In spite of all!
Hey, I am that 50 year old white middle-class suburban sometimes votes Democrat sometimes votes Republican voter. So basically this whole post his subtweeting me.
I actually sort of like Harris. The fact that she was a prosecutor, was one of the things I dug. She seems smart, sharp. Unfortunately, what she lacks is charisma. Or more specifically that type of charisma that is effective on TV. But even though she might not be a natural, I think she definitely has the bones to improve.
Matt is especially right about her leaning into Patriotism. What I look for in a President is that feeling that the person really loves America. And I’m a way that is greater than it’s flaws. One of the hypothetical questions I ask about a President is whether this person would sacrifice their life for our country, or at least get a fist fight for us. Now I know this can be faked, but I want to at least believe it might be true.
This is one of those reasons I didn’t vote for Trump. To me it was pretty obvious he was a narcissist that only cared about himself.
Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush St all had that. Democrats lately though are in danger of losing on an institutional level. Kamala hasn’t done anything to say that she has fallen into this trap, but by not actively cultivating American positivism she runs getting sucked into this trap.
Note: I don’t follow her very much so if someone replies with some quote or illustration of how she has done it… it wasn’t enough because it didn’t break through.
On another semi-related note. I sort of dig AOC. She has that charisma. I am really hoping that she can separate herself from the socialist label enough to be a viable candidate. She has that common sense, I lived in the real world thing about her. If she has spent 4-years in the Military after college, I’d bet pretty big on her Presidential odds. As it is now… she has that… I’m for working people thing going. Hopefully she can get that I love America thing as well.
>>>Lying is bad, morally speaking. But nobody says every single thing that they believe, and certainly nobody does so in public. <<<
Moreover, so much of what appealing to swing voters is about involves choosing certain areas of emphasis over others. Lying or truthfulness doesn’t really even come into it (at least not most of the time).
“I think successful politicians manage to work themselves to a point where they are beyond these kinds of petty questions of sincerity“ is the peak of this blog. This is why Matt makes the big bucks
Today's essay was another excellent public service. As you note, you have signed yourself up for the emotional labor of arguing with your allies. Thank you.
Woo first! Anyhow, I can tell you why I, personally, dislike her.
I don’t think she has any scruples. I consider her an authoritarian in waiting, who has explicitly proposed completely ignoring the constitution (see her proposal to have the executive branch legislate on guns if Congress didn’t give her what she looked for - no matter the fact that I am against guns, unconstitutional power grabs are a problem) a tendency that’s especially dangerous when we consider how censorship (in the form of ginning up spurious violations against facebook and other companies whose moderation has displeased us) has become normalized in Democratic party discourse.
It ain’t cause she’s a woman, or cause of her race - it’s that she’s never shown any principle greater than her ambition.
I am gay so I should have been offended but my favorite Obama pander was when they asked him how his religion informed his opposition to gay marriage and he said "God is in the mix."
1) She will never, ever do this.
2) She couldn't get away with it because of her past public statements
3) She has terrible political instincts and it shows.
4) She is a completely unscrupulous and it shows.
Cue up someone else. Almost any other Democrat.
We know that white women can win Midwestern Congressional elections. We know Barrack Obama could win Midwestern swing states in presidential elections. It does not follow that a biracial woman from California can win Midwestern swing states in a Presidential election. The gist of MY’s analysis is “don’t be too weird.” Embrace hokey patriotism and saccharine optimism to act normal. That’s fine advice. It worked for Obama. However, Obama was male and lived in the Midwest. He chose Chicago when most people with his credentials wind up on the coasts. This made him seem normal enough to win an election in held when the economy seemed to be imploding.
Harris can’t change her race and can’t take back the 25 years she spent as a California politician, and a gender change would be unlikely to improve her political prospects. She checks too many “not like us” boxes to play well in Wisconsin.
The best metric of her fitness for the nomination is her approval ratings. Democrats were idiots to ignore Hillary’s wretched numbers. I hope they don’t make that mistake twice.
ps— it will be really interesting to see how Abrams performs relative to Warnock. That will give us some data on the electability of women of color in tough states. I suspect they will both lose. A lot of suburban whites will go R if the party puts two blacks at the top of the ticket. Electing a black senator in the Deep South is inclusive and historic. Having a black senator and a black governor triggers a they’re taking over” vibe.
Here's a take for ya: There is the option of dropping Harris from the ticket, of course, in 2024. Not likely, no, but politics ain't beanbag. And there's a certain non-woke Black dude who might be running New York City by then. If his Twitter feed's anything to go by, Eric Adams seems ready for the big leagues.
I think we're seeing here that the Slow Boring subscriber base is just as unrepresentative of the American electorate as the Very Online wokesters are. Lots of libertarian-ish distaste here for Harris's past tough-on-crime stances, when those are in fact the strongest parts of her electoral profile. IRL there are close to zero libertarian swing voters (or voters of any kind, really).
I hope Harris and her team listen to this post, but I don't have high hopes. After a certain point in their careers people tend to just get set in their ways. Think of all the coaches in pro sports who achieve success with a particular style with predictable strengths and weaknesses. How many of them plateau there, and how many are able to evolve? I'd say it's like a 10-to-1 ratio. Coaches who are creative and able to make adjustments are *usually* creative and able to make adjustments from the beginning.
Do we know who Harris's political brain is? Who is her Ted Kaufman, and what do we know about him/her? If that person is capable of shifting gears, then Harris will be too. If not, she won't.
I think this is both rather cynical and more or less correct. One way or another the Republicans are likely to nominate a (semi-)lunatic, therefore the rep you want is 'the sensible one', which is how Biden won. And rightly or wrongly, a large and critical group of Americans define 'sensible' as 'centrist, annoying left and right'. The increasing focus on identity issues in the Democratic activist base means that as a black woman Harris has a lot of room to annoy left. Especially if she's up in 2024, against Trump...
I feel attacked, while at the same time I know you’re right. I feel devastatingly sad, as one does when faced with a truth they have not seen, nor do they want to. The word “pandering” makes me a little bit nauseous. It carries with it a sense of deceit and insincerity. I want the leaders of this great country to be above it. But reality bites.
The hardest pill to swallow is the phrase “The greatest country in the world.” A clip from the TV series “Newsroom” plays in my mind every time I hear it, yet I know that the vast majority of my peers have never seen it, nor would they agree. America is not the greatest country in the world. But that would definitely not sit well with an even more vast majority of not only my peers, but the citizens of this country.
In order to create great change, one must be in a position to make that change possible. Having the opportunity to orchestrate great things brings with it the responsibility of retaining that position. I want to say, “But at what cost?” The answer is, unfortunately, at a greater cost than it should be… the cost of changing the rhetoric. Pandering. Definitely a punch to the gut for me this morning.
I think people give legislators a lot of space for being impure, due to the need to court votes, among both voters and other legislators. There are things in her record as a prosecutor that make me worry about her character.
I don’t have time to demonstrate at the moment, may come back later, but she did things that I might overlook from a former Mississippi AG. But California? She didn’t do those things because they were politically necessary or even advantageous. It feels to me like she did those things because that’s who she is. And I hate it, I really do. I’ll be looking for a different candidate.
And yes, for Pete’s sake, get away from Twitter. That goes for every candidate and journalist (sorry Matt!).
A phenomenal article as always, Matt.
As you reference in the opening sentence I am deeply, deeply worried about her chances if she's the nominee. Perhaps even more worrying to me is I don't think the current iteration of the Democratic Party would even dare to challenge her for the nomination if Biden retires.
Of the most-likely GOP candidates I think she loses to every single one. A large part of this is not her fault: our country is polarized, EC puts Dems at disadvantage, a significant number of voters that are openly/closeted racists and sexists, etc., etc. All those aside, she seems to have a real issue connecting on the stump, especially with more moderate voters who would (obviously) be needed to carry her over the finish line.
To summarize: I do like Kamala the person and the public official - but I am DEEPLY worried about Kamala's chances as the anointed candidate.
If I was the Biden and/or DNC team I'd have Kamala on a tour of the rural parts of this country 75% of the time. If she could build up trust and become a familiar face in the rural areas of the country (thus tying her name to broadband expansion, farm bills, etc.) then I think she could turn the ship around in no time. But as of right now? Democrats seem doomed if she's top of ticket.
Just my two-cents, and looking forward to hearing where I'm way wrong :)
For what it's worth: there's totally a large probability this piece gets in front of the Vice President's eyeballs (and definitely her staff's). From what I hear Matt Y is a very regular read in (very) high Democratic Party circles.
Fascinating and convincing analysis but... (pause for a Jon Snow flashback) - I think this next bit is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG:
"And on some level, I don’t think there’s any problem with Harris that can’t be solved by her wanting to solve problems.".
Her campaign was a train wreck of muddled messaging and confused staffers and we are getting similar stories out of the White House. I think this is who she is and she either can't or won't change.