Race, healthcare, and everything wrong with Kamala Harris’ campaign for president

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Race, healthcare, and everything wrong with Kamala Harris’ campaign for president

LaMonte Patterson, Staff Reporter/Writer

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At first, I liked Kamala Harris. She seemed charismatic, easy to relate to, and although her record as a prosecutor hinted at shortcomings, I could not find a reason to dislike her wholeheartedly.

That has since changed.

My positive feelings about her candidacy began to wane after watching her on The Breakfast Club morning show. In less than 45 minutes, Sen. Harris managed to joke about smoking weed, listening to Tupac, and cooking collard greens. For some reason, she felt it was necessary to trot out almost every known black stereotype on the widely syndicated morning show. Had I not known Sen. Harris was a presidential candidate, I would have assumed she was trying out for the Black Olympics. On social media, she portrays herself similarly just a bit stiffer. In one video published on her official Twitter, she can be seen awkwardly dancing as she lists songs in her “mood mix” playlist. In another video, she eats a pork chop and gleefully raves about its deliciousness.

Sen. Harris’s campaign announcement on Martin Luther King Jr. day should have told me her candidacy would be marred by racial pandering. In late February, she sat down for an interview with theGrio to discuss her campaign. theGrio is a news site that works to provide African-Americans with stories and perspectives that are underreported in national news media. When they asked her if she supported reparations, Sen. Harris began her answer by explaining that 200 years of slavery and a century of Jim Crow fostered the racial wealth gap. However, she concluded her response with a shrill but definitive “no.” She explained that she would not advocate for a policy that would specifically benefit black people and that she would instead pursue a tax credit for the middle class. This answer combined with her previous embarrassing attempts at showcasing her personality and her track record as a prosecutor has caused many to question her authenticity.

For Sen. Harris, her identity problems are not exclusively racial; they’re also political. She touts herself as a progressive candidate advocating for social reform and liberal ideas, but her policy proposals say otherwise. Consider her cleverly named “Medicare for All” healthcare plan: her project would expand the number of private insurance companies actively operating in the Medicare system, line the pockets of insurance executives, and change as little as possible about our healthcare system.

Sen. Harris’s student debt forgiveness plan is even more baffling. To qualify for her debt forgiveness program, you must be a Pell Grant recipient that has started a small business in a disadvantaged community that has been running for at least three years. Requiring that former students become Nipsey Hussle to get loan forgiveness isn’t just bad policy; it’s degrading. It is easy enough to see that Sen. Harris is not a progressive. She has gotten this far in the race by cloaking herself in the popularity of leftist policy ideas.

Her willingness to capitalize off the pain of real people victimized by our broken healthcare and student loan systems reveal that she is yet another bought-and-sold politician. She is charismatic, a good debater, malleable, and because of this very popular among the wealthy elite. Her campaign is one of the five best funded in a field of more than 20 with the bulk of the contributions coming from large donors. Six months into her stint as a senator, she had already begun hosting kickbacks in resort towns for Hilary Clinton’s top corporate donors Harvey Weinstien and Citigroup banker Ray McGuire. Before announcing her campaign, she sought the approval of several Wall Street executives to gauge their interest in her presidential run. One of the executives was reportedly 32 Advisors’ founder Robert Wolf.  He had previously been a significant contributor to the 2008 Obama campaign and was rewarded with three presidential appointments after Obama was elected. In public she embraces populism while privately doing the bidding of the wealthy. In the post-Citizens United campaign finance era, a candidate like Sen. Harris is a dream come true for the rich and influential.

Sen. Harris’s biggest strengths could ultimately be her greatest weaknesses. She is becoming an opportunist willing to do whatever is necessary to further her career. She is happy accepting money from the likes of Harvey Weinstein. She is not above crafting ambiguous and deceptive policies to trick voters. She is eager to shamelessly pander to a group she is supposed to already belong to with tasteless stereotypes. All of this is done to craft an identity that is not representative of who she actually is. She has the skills and establishment backing needed to win, but those assets may very well be everything wrong with Kamala Harris’s campaign for President.