Bernie Sanders plays party man in defense of Kamala Harris as VP



Senator Bernie Sanders seems confident likely Democratic vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris brushes away concerns about Joe Biden in the White House. The “Independent” Vermont senator believes Harris cinches the deal for Biden.

“Well, I believe that Kamala is somebody who is — known for a number of years — incredibly smart, incredibly tough,” He said today on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos. “And I would not like to be Vice President Pence in a debate with her. I think she’s an asset for the Biden campaign, and I think she’s going to do great on the campaign trail.”

Stephanopoulos pressed Sanders to answer whether or not Harris’ record as California Attorney General, just three years ago, causes pause amongst progressives and democratic socialist voters before selecting Biden/Harris this November. Sanders, instead, turned the question into a referendum on President Donald Trump.

“Well, I would say that the overwhelming majority of progressives understand that it is absolutely imperative that Donald Trump be defeated, that we have a president who is trying to undermine American democracy, a president who has turned his back on the working families of this country, a president who has done a horrible job in terms of the pandemic, does not believe in science, is not dealing with the existential threat of climate change,” Sanders said his appeal. “So obviously there may be disagreements. A lot of my supporters are not enthusiastic about Joe Biden, you know why? I ran against Joe Biden. But I think there is overwhelming understanding that Donald Trump must be defeated, Biden must be elected, and that the day after he is elected we’re going to do everything we can to create a government that works for all of us and not just the 1 percent and wealthy campaign contributors.”

Bernie Sanders, ever the Democratic Party man despite his claims of otherwise and the occasional bucking of the party on foreign policy issues.

How do fellow progressives and Democratic Socialists feel about Harris as VP? It depends on the website.

DailyKos is chock full of people completely bought into the Biden-Harris ticket and defending Harris’ record as a prosecutor in San Francisco and California. One commentator focused on the plea bargain mill claim Harris used in her run for district attorney with the summation, “We must defeat Trump.”

Other DailyKos authors see Harris as a catalyst towards victory.

“Putting Harris front and center, in battleground states and cities with large Black populations like Detroit, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia, is important for all those communities,” Joan McCarter wrote Friday in a piece calling Harris the right fit for Biden and the one to bring in voters who skipped 2016. “The campaign is also hoping that her first generation immigrant background will motivate voters in immigrant-rich communities in red states that are poised to flip, like Arizona, Florida, and Texas.”

The socialists, and Sanders fans, over at Jacobin magazine also see Harris as the perfect fit for Biden, but not as a positive.

“Harris’s possible ascension to the White House solidifies what Biden’s nomination already represented: the defeat, at least temporarily, of the left of the Democratic Party by the party’s corporate faction, and the determination of its elites to barrel ahead with the shallow, corporate politics of the Obama era, a politics mainly concerned with lowering the expectations of ordinary people,” Branko Marcetic intoned in a piece calling Biden and Harris neo-liberal soul mates. “Indeed, one of the reasons it was hard to imagine anyone else but Harris ending up on the ticket is that she so snugly embodies the modern Democratic Party — which also means almost everything you’re about to hear about her has little to do with who she actually is.”

Marcetic also gripes, correctly, about Harris’ role as a prosecutor. “Even in a party that embraced Biden- and Clinton-style tough-on-crime policies, Harris stands out for her cruelty: she fought to keep innocent people in jail, blocked payouts to the wrongfully convicted, argued for keeping non-violent offenders in jail as a source of cheap labor, withheld evidence that could have freed numerous prisoners, tried to dismiss a suit to end solitary confinement in California, and denied gender reassignment surgery to trans inmates. A recent report detailed how Harris risked being held in contempt of court for resisting a court order to release non-violent prisoners, which one law professor compared to Southern resistance to 1950s desegregation orders.”

Not exactly the ringing endorsement the Democratic Party likely hopes to get from the Sanders faction. Nor was Sanders’ own endorsement which completely eschewed policy for the desire to see Trump booted from the White House.

The question for Democrats is whether this “Anybody but Trump,” strategy works. Democrats are doing all they can to bring in Sanders voters with their unity plan, although Harris as VP isn’t exactly progressive from a policy standpoint. It’s possible Democrats are hoping a non-Sanders acolyte will solidify centrist support among Republicans disgusted with Trump’s tenure. Their theory may be whoever voted for Evan McMullin in 2016 will side with Biden in 2020 and, maybe, some people who picked Gary Johnson.

It might work, however, this ignores the important role of policy within certain voting blocs. The more fervent socialists are not likely to support Biden or Harris, nor are the most fervent libertarians. It’s more likely those who see policy more important than politics will either skip the 2020 election or vote for a third-party candidate more amiable to their positions.

Another reason for the two-party system to die.





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