The Left Needs to Acknowledge Its Sexism, Part Two: Kamala Harris Edition

Note: the following is the second in an ongoing series about the sexism problem on the left. To read the first of these pieces, click here

I’ve been dissatisfied with Bernie Sanders’ supporters since he announced his campaign back in June of 2015, not because I was angry that they didn’t support my preferred candidate, Hillary Clinton, but because of their inability to see how their criticisms of her were, more often than not, rooted in a fear of powerful women. Since she “lost” to Donald Trump, the most die-hard Sandernistas have developed a complete loathing of anyone who represents the “Democratic establishment” like Corey Booker and Kristen Gillibrand. With yesterday’s hit piece in Mic, we’re now seeing it happen to the Democrats’ brightest rising star, California Senator Kamala Harris.

The article, by Andrew Joyce, is an insidious collection of lies meant to take Harris’s strengths and turn them into weaknesses, just as Republicans did to Kerry with his Vietnam record, and Hillary with the Clinton Foundation. Harris can be called progressive by all standards of the word, as this Los Angeles Times article does a good job pointing out. As California’s Attorney General, she brokered a deal to give struggling California homeowners $18.4 billion in mortgage, refused to defend Proposition 8, the amendment banning gay marriage, and going after for-profit colleges. Her record isn’t perfect – under her, California’s DOJ was weak in determining whether or not dangerous people owned guns – but no politician’s track record is perfect, and this one demerit isn’t enough for me to waver in my support for her.

You wouldn’t get a lot of this from the Mic article, however, which obsesses over Kamala’s connections to Steve Mnuchin. These connections, such as they are, are pretty minuscule: briefly, after an investigation came out exposing Mnuchin’s OneWest for the foreclosure machine that it was, the researchers handed their evidence over to then-Attorney General Harris with the recommendation that her office file a civil suit against OneWest and Mnuchin. Ultimately, the suit never went through, since there was not enough evidence to indict Mnuchin specifically, and the prosecutors could only uncover 8 specific cases where they could prove that the homeowners were defrauded. (For a more in-depth look at this, which I’ve pulled information in the above paragraph from, click the link below for a thread from Democratic activist Matthew Chapman:)

But even more damning to the alt-left’s eyes is that, although Harris voted against Mnuchin’s confirmation, reports later revealed that he donated to her Senate campaign. Why he did is a mystery, but since this was revealed this past winter, she’s already being painted as a tool of Wall Street. Here are just a few quotes Joyce gathers from the alt-lefties in his article:

“The Democrats will not win unless they address income inequality, no matter how they dress up their next candidate…If that candidate is in bed with Wall Street, you may as well lay a tombstone out for the Democratic party now.”

– Nomiki Konst, TYT correspondent

“She’s not on our radar…She’s one of the people the Democratic party is putting up. In terms of where the progressives live, I don’t think there’s any ‘there’ there.”

– RoseAnn DeMOro, Executive Director of National Nurses United

“She is the preferred candidate of extremely wealthy and out-of-touch Democratic party donors…If she wants to advance her political career, she will have to come out authentically and honestly in support of universal healthcare, free college, a federal $15 [an] hour minimum wage, criminal justice reform, and the expansion of social security programs. Anything less than this will mean the party will continue to bleed voters.”

– Winnie Wong, co-founder of People for Bernie

– Winnie Wong, co-founder of People for Bernie

(Susan’s not quoted in the article, but man, with friends like these…)

There’s a lot of disingenuousness in the remarks of these three women, especially given the track record each of them hasin peddling misinformation about the Democratic party. Konst has called the Democratic primary system “racist,” ignoring the fact that caucuses disenfranchise far more people of color than primaries do; DeMoro organized a useless protest at the California Democratic Party Chair election encouraging her fellow progressives that “There are a lot of good people to boo”; and Wong, the head of People for Bernie, is a sophist who does not realize or has deliberately ignored Harris’s support for all those positions – here, here, here annnnnnnnd here.) So all three stand on shaky ideological ground when they lob their rhetorical grenades at Mrs. Harris. Konst herself, a member of Daily Banter punching bag TYT, apparently cannot differentiate good Republican money vs. bad, since I have seen no missives from her against the fact that Buddy Roemer, the former Republican governor of Louisiana, is one of the largest shareholders of TYT

Their reasons for not supporting Harris are based on – well, let’s be nice and call them “alternate facts” – from outlets and reporters who flirt dangerously with misleading their readers. The Intercept ran a story on the Harris/Mnuchin connection the day she was sworn into the Senate, January 3, once again making it clear where their priorities lie in the debate over how best to move forward. And of course, Australian “rogue journalist” Caitlin Johnstone provided a hilarious example of anti-Harris fervor, in an article called “WE. DON’T. HAVE. TIME. FOR. THIS. SHIT.” (caps hers.) Like all of her other writing, it is so detached from reality that it doesn’t even present any realistic reasons not to support her, except that she’s the Democratic Establishment, will take us to war with Russia etc, etc, etc.

The truth is, the alt-left does not have the power to decide who the next Democratic nominee will be. Bernie Sanders may have his sights set on 2020, but if he cannot receive a majority of the black/POC vote, he will lose, and if Harris does decide to run, it would not surprise me if she received the same share of that vote which Hillary Clinton did. And in spite of Bernie’s attempts at bringing women of color into his fold, such as Our Revolution chair Nina Turner, he still has yet to make a dent in the de facto base of the Democratic party, who voted for Clinton in overwhelming numbers. I’m not saying that he’s directing these women to do this, but it is disappointing that he (and they) have decided to double down on the white working class angle, betting on the support of voters whose support for liberalism cannot be relied on rather than the enthusiastic backers of an inspiring politician like Mrs. Harris. She would be a great Democratic nominee, and the left cannot get bogged down in a replay of what happened to Hillary Clinton in 2016.

PS – I am fully aware that that I’m accusing women of engaging in a gendered attack on one of their own. There’s a great essay to be written in these dynamics, as well as the way women are complicit in furthering misogynistic stereotypes, but it’s not mine to write. If anyone wants to take a crack at it, I’ll gladly read and share it.

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Jeremy Fassler is a writer and journalist living in Brooklyn, New York.

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