California Senator Kamala Harris scares the hell out of me … because she’s so electrifying, competent and photogenic. Her solid performance in the first Democratic Debates — where she went straight at frontrunner Joe Biden and caused him to look old and ineffectual — was no fluke. She’s the real deal.
Once an acolyte of Willie Brown, perhaps one of the sharpest California politicians of his (or any other) generation, Harris learned retail politics at the feet of this master politico from the ground up. The other contenders for the Democratic nomination will soon learn — if they haven’t already — that the tough, seasoned and adroit senator and former prosecutor from California can do more than hold her own; she’s always going to figure out a way to outshine the rest of the field.
Conventional wisdom at this juncture of the contest to determine who will take on tRump in 2020 favors Joe Biden, but the more the American electorate sees and hears Harris the more they are going to like — indeed fall in love with — her. And there’s the rub.
There is no doubt that Kamala Harris would make a great president — by now that should be a point most observers would, as lawyers are wont to say, be willing to stipulate. Her credentials are impeccable and it’s extremely doubtful there are any pesky skeletons in her closet that are going to tumble out and derail her momentum. She’s as clean as a whistle, and is not burdened by embarrassing votes or stands she took on issues years ago. Whereas Biden’s authorship of the now-much hated 1994 Crime Bill that unfairly criminalized a large percentage of young blacks and browns for decades is going to prove to be a monumental stumbling block for the former vice president when voters are reminded of it.
All things being equal, Harris has better than a puncher’s chance of wresting the nomination from Biden. And she really, really knows how to punch — as demonstrated during the second night of the debate. But here’s what frightens me about Kamala Harris: It’s that she’s so skilled and driven she will become the Democratic Party nominee, and that could prove the undoing of those of us aligned against tRump and want to see him out of office.
The frightening part of all of this, for me at least, is that too much of the electorate is still far, far too misogynic and racist to elect a black female president — no matter how qualified she happens to be. tRump is beatable, but can Harris overcome our nation’s ugly history?
I dialogue with white progressives and moderates on a regular basis, and the blinders they wear on matters racial are evident. They don’t care to admit just how backward many white American voters actually are. It’s embarrassing for them to admit that we still have such a high percentage of white voters who would simply not cast their ballot for Harris based on her race or on her gender, in spite of knowing that she would best serve our national interests and restore dignity to the office of the Presidency.
I get it, I’m embarrassed by this reality also, but my (or anyone else’s embarrassment) still doesn’t change the fact that when it comes down to it, many white males are going to retreat into their sense of privilege and will berate, cajole and dominate their wives, girlfriends, mothers, and daughters — essentially bully them into voting for tRump.
In the end, I just don’t trust some white folks to do the right thing — and I come to this conclusion with ample historical and personal evidence. Maybe it’s just my blackness showing, but all too often I’ve seen white folks — given the option of doing the right or wrong of a thing — elect to do the latter when it comes down to matters of race or gender.
From CoolCleveland correspondent Mansfield B. Frazier mansfieldfATgmail.com. Frazier’s From Behind The Wall: Commentary on Crime, Punishment, Race and the Underclass by a Prison Inmate is available in hardback. Snag your copy and have it signed by the author at http://NeighborhoodSolutionsInc.