Senator Harris and the no good, terrible … yeah, whatever.

There are a lot of articles and even lists (and, yes, listicles) about Senator Kamala Harris’ worst actions and decisions, primarily as a prosecutor in San Francisco and the Attorney General of California. Let me be quite clear: I hate a number of things that Harris has done and a number of positions she’s taken in the past.

THAT SAID: when you’re considering all the bad crap in one of those lists, consider that it is, quite literally, harder for women of color to get elected in the USA than for a white man with the exact same resume and political positions. A LOT harder. You can only rock the boat so much and still be electable because of the way the USA’s plutocratic electoral system operates. Black skin rocks the boat. Being female rocks the boat. Being a woman rocks the boat. That leaves Harris dramatically less leeway to rock the boat with her actions or positions and still get elected. She has to take conventional positions on a number of issues to get to the position where she might be considered as a VP candidate.

In other words, white men are allowed to be more liberal and still get elected than black women are.In other, other words, you would never have gotten a VP-candidate Harris if Harris had not taken those positions that we progressives so roundly criticize.

This does not excuse those positions in any way…

HOWEVER: the only way to normalize the election of women of color is to elect women of color. The more Black women and Asian women and mixed-race women we have as POTUS or VPOTUS or SCOTUS Justice or Senate Majority Leader or Speaker of the House or SecState or SecDefense, the less merely being Black, merely being Asian, merely being mixed-race, or merely being a woman rock the damn boat.

Every woman of color we elect makes it easier to elect the next woman of color. Every woman the senate confirms to those precious few high offices makes it easier to confirm the next woman of color. Every single woman of color who takes up one of these offices makes the next woman of color a little bit more free to take up left-wing causes of justice that would otherwise be represented in the halls of power only by white men.

I’ve fought for trans* rights for more than 25 years now. I’m appalled at her positions on trans* health care and on prisoner health care more generally. (As AG she wasn’t responsible for the prisons directly, but she was responsible for California’s responses to prisoner lawsuits.) I’m disgusted that she has sought to imprison innocent people to save face for the flawed human beings who work within the justice system rather than openly embracing the ideal that embarrassing justice is so much better than face-saving injustice that there should be no difficulty choosing what’s best for our country and our community.

But I’m also not naive enough to think that her anti-health care, anti-prisoner, anti-justice, pro-punishment positions are somehow right wing. They are the status quo we’re trying to fight, but they are the status quo. They are conventional positions in the contemporary United States. I feel the wounds acutely because she has targeted me and people I care about, but even in my pain I am sufficiently clear-headed to say this:

If we ever want a multi-cultural democracy where a woman of color, maybe even a queer or trans woman of color, can hold one of our highest offices while advocating justice over punishment, health care over tax cuts, prisoners over profits, then we sure as fuck need to elect Kamala Harris. We need to elect so many goddamned Kamala Harrises that they seem positively boring. We want to elect so many that conservatives whine about the good old days when the President exempted all assets under USD$100,000,000 from the wealth tax instead of just $50,000,000, subsidized rural electrical self-sufficiency, compensated for-profit prison companies when drug law reform caused their prisons to run unprofitably below capacity, and even wore a flag pin proudly on her lapel. We want them to forget that they used to oppose any wealth tax, that they thought solar panels were tyranny until the feds helped rural homes run electric-bill free and immune to black outs, that our federal prison population in 2040 is less than 1/3 of what it was in 2020, and that flag pins are just symbols.

When we accomplish that, then we can get the 85 million votes we’ll then need to elect a Black woman POTUS whose policies are to the left of Sherrod Brown and whose passion is more powerful than Bernie Sanders and whose voice, when crying out against miscarriages of justice, is more shrill than Hillary fucking Clinton’s.

We need Kamala Harris desperately; the fact that she’s a conventional politician only proves how much.

And this is the perfect year for her as well. You can’t put Bernie on the ticket with Biden and get a left-wing White House. Biden is still gonna Biden. You sure as hell can’t reelect Trump. But you can put a Black woman’s skin in front of the country as the every day appearance of one of the USA’s leading political figures. You can send the message, repeatedly for at least 4 years, that Vice President Kamala Harris is what power looks like. You can help normalize the exercise of power by women of color to the point where our media, our Senate, our democracy, our metaphorical-fucking-boat is not rocked off balance by the few hectograms of mass found in two black tits.

You may hate it. I don’t like it, but the USA is so fucked up that electing this Black/Indian Californian prosecutor who defended bad crime labs and opposed basic health care is actually a really, really, really good fucking thing for the country.

Even I’m not white enough to miss that.




  1. brucegee1962 says

    I agree with most of what you say here, with one caveat — I don’t think you need to be quite as mainstream as you say to get elected. The counterexample is Stacy Abrams, who almost certainly would be Georgia governor right now if she hadn’t drawn an opponent who happened to be allowed to rig the election. And since the main strike against her in the VP-stakes was her inexperience, if she’d won that race there’s a good chance she’d be under Biden on the ticket right now. If someone like her can get as close as she got in Georgia, of all places, then there’s plenty of hope for WoC in the rest of the country.

    Other than that, though, I’m completely on board with everything you say — Harris all the way. It’s also funny watching the Fox machine trying to paint her as a flaming left-wing radical. Maybe the spectacle of the left calling her a right-winger and the right calling her a left-winger might recreate a bit of centrist ground in the electorate that has practically eroded away to nothing over the last decade? We’ll see.

  2. sonofrojblake says

    Let’s see, what can I disagree with here…

    Well, there’s the use of the word “hectograms”. I mean…?

    And that’s it. Clear-eyed, well put, pragmatic. I’m not going to go on, it would be embarassing. Full agreement, that is all.

    If I’d had a vote in 2016, it would have been Clinton (I hope that’s obvious). I’d have been holding my nose extremely hard, but there it is. If I had a vote this year, it would be Biden, and I’d be holding my nose less tightly than in 2016. Who knows, one day there may be a Dem candidate who wouldn’t require me to sound like Frank Sidebottom at all. We can but hope. Oh, and, y’know, vote. Everyone in the US, please… vote.

  3. KG says

    If I’d had a vote in 2016, it would have been Clinton (I hope that’s obvious) – sonofrojblake

    Er… no, it’s not. Some of us remember your 2016 enthusiastic relaying of Scott Adams’ worshipping description of Trump as a “master persuader” who would win a landslide victory*. IIRC you never actually said you’d vote for Trump if you had a vote, but I don’t recall you saying you’d vote for Clinton either (I’m open to being proved wrong of course).

    *Retro-spoiler: He didn’t.

  4. says


    I am NOT saying you’re wrong, but I’ve snapped hard at sonofrojblake for one thing that seemed like the straw that broke the camel’s back when in fact “rojblake” was the person who had been causing me to be increasingly irritated.

    Sonofrojblake recently informed us that there’s no relation between the two and that the attachment to the name “rojblake” (as person or son-of) is about some old UK TV show. (I know not which. I was in diapers for a good portion of the 70s and in the United States all but a short visit to Canada for the rest, with no UK television watched.)

    My memories of what was said by which person have thus, until quite recently, been thoroughly unreliable, in part because I really thought that they were père & fils, so I expected a lot of viewpoint overlap and thought I could use the views of one to reliably understand the other.

    I’m being much more careful now, and have effectively given sonofrojblake a complete reset – even if there have been things that were actually said by SORB, I’m just going to give them a pass since I can’t know that they were said by SORB and not RB.

    So, again, I’m not saying you’re wrong, but since I’ve been so thoroughly wrong in what I’ve ascribed to SORB I hope you don’t mind if I take your comment with a bit of caution for the possibility that perhaps the Scott Adams statement was made by RB, faux-père.

    ——–and then, secondly…

    I do love the Onion profile of Harris. The concluding line is the best of all:

    Contribution To Ticket: Centrist counterbalance to Biden’s centrism.

  5. KG says

    Crip Dyke@5,

    Unless my memory is considerably worse than I realise, it was sonofrojblake – although I suppose it’s possible there are two of them using the same nym. It was on Mano’s blog I think, through I’m less sure of that. (I’m British, but never watched “Blake’s Seven”, the SF TV series in which Roj Blake was the central character. I only recently came across the commenter with the nym “rojblake”. )

  6. Rob Grigjanis says

    KG @3: It was pretty easy to google the thread(s) I think you’re referring to.

    sonofrojblake writes, in the second thread;

    That a candidate [Clinton] with such great qualifications and experience can be in such a narrow lead at this point over a blowhard buffoon is deeply depressing.

    I’d call that obvious.

    In the first thread, he is merely pointing out that Adams, contrary to received wisdom, was predicting a Trump win.

  7. KG says

    Rob Grigjanis@7

    Thanks for those links, but I don’t think they tell the whole story – my comments on that second thread are referring to things sonofrojblake said between the dates of your two links, IIRC. I’ll see what else I can find, but what search terms did you use? I tried “sonofrojblake Adams Trump”, “sonofrojblake Adams”, “sonofrojblake Trump” “Adams Trump”, and ” “Scott Adams” “, using Mano’s blog’s search engine and each time got “Sorry, no content matched your criteria” or in the last case “Not found, error 404”. Using general Google search with similar terms did no better.

    By dint of brute-force searching through Mano’s 2016 posts (I haven’t yet finished), I did find this:

    If I could vote, I’d hold my nose and vote Clinton, but that may be because I’m misunderstanding just how powerless a President Trump might be.

    So at least by October, sonofrojblake was saying he’d vote for Clinton if he had a vote – but why the qualification? And others apart from me had certainly regarded him as an apologist for Trump.

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