Updated: Dec 18, 2019
Kamala Harris is a cop!
Kamala Harris is a cop who has sent zero bankers to jail.
Kamala Harris, an Asian Indian African American, is the “female Obama”.
Are such descriptions of career prosecutor and first-term Senator Ms. Harris more damning or reassuring?
Perhaps the answer depends on your stance toward establishment liberalism, and whether you suspect any such thing might be moving somehow closer to democratic socialism.
Kamala Harris takes the heat for Joe Biden and other corporate Dems!
So far Ms. Harris, whose website is remarkably light on policy, is forgivably reliant on her biography and demographic affiliations in her early efforts to build name recognition and to differentiate herself from announced and potential rivals in her party’s primary race. Given her MLK Day announcement it would be (cruelly?) ironic if her candidacy became emblematic of the type of liberalism decried by Dr. King:
I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
Martin Luther King (Letter from a Birmingham Jail)
On a rhetorical level at least, the upcoming (ongoing?) Democratic Presidential Primaries will be (are!) a plebiscite on establishment liberalism. This will, no doubt, be the case whatever the fate of the candidacy of Ms. Harris.
I mean the term “establishment” here it’s broadest possible sense so that the term includes corporate democratic lobbyists and officeholders as well as Democratic Socialists (New Dealers) like Bernie and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez. This is because, like it or not, all Mayors, Attorneys General, Governors, Senators, and Congresscritters are part of the “establishment” almost as much as are all major bankers, corporate executives, and those who own enough stock in major corporations to get their calls answered.
But if the “establishment” means “what is”, it can also be used to incorporate the responsibly held belief systems of those who do not hold office or wield power. The term “establishment” can, in this sense, be applied to almost anyone who might hesitate before supporting a bullying, lying, chiseling, cheating, money laundering, racist stooge of the Madison Avenue Kremlin to “shake things up” by becoming the actual President of the United States of Atomic America. In this sense, the term “establishment” includes all of us who have ever anguished when forced to select some balance point between “justice” and “order”.
Ms. Harris is right to reject being boxed in by ideologically contrived “false choices” such as any notion our only options are the abysmal wastelands created by stark unregulated Capitalism vs the hellholes of Stalinist dictatorships. But whether we own up to it or not, we are all inescapably confronted with frequent decisions where we must weigh idealism v pragmatism or order v justice - and in the immediate clutch of circumstance it avails us little to recognize such choices have been fabricated for us as much by deceptive ideological interests as by the harshness of historical circumstances. Of course we, who do not control significant swathes of resources or who do not hold offices of trust, can indulge ourselves in opinionated fantasies about our clear-eyed realism or in vague whimsies involving Dumbledore’s Hogwarts politics.
Although only a few may originate a policy, we are all able to judge it.
Pericles of Athens.
In my course I have known and, according to my measure, have co-operated with great men; and I have never yet seen any plan which has not been mended by the observations of those who were much inferior in understanding to the persons who took the lead in the business.
Whatever happens regarding the current abomination of a presidential* administration, we will all be called upon to make grave choices regarding whatever is to replace it. With looming threats of climate change, nuclear war, rising inequality, and crumbling legitimacy of institutions, we can only try to fortify our understanding and judgment for the choices sure to follow.