Saturday, August 15, 2020

Race for the White House # 85

 80 Days Until Election Day

This year, since March, has felt like none other before it, but we are now entering a phase of the campaign where the action always heats up. It will just look and sound very differently in 2020 though. Conventions without throngs. Speeches via Zoom? It will be interesting to see how it all looks and sounds. I am not quite sure myself. I just know that Democrats will have a four day convention starting Monday and just a week later, Republicans will also "meet" for four days. Some past recent GOP conventions have lost a day or been slightly curtailed due to natural disasters. This might be more of a political disaster.

Conventions are like crack to a political junkie, even in an era where the results are a foregone conclusion, and I used to consume them thoroughly. Of course, I was pretty disillusioned last cycle and it was hard to watch either of them. That will largely be the case this summer, although I am more sanguine about it all. 

Next Saturday, I will discuss the events for the Democrats and how Donald Trump tried to steal attention away from it, and then I will talk about the other party the next week. Much happened though in the past seven days, including the selection of California Senator Kamala Harris as Joe Biden's running-mate. I was not too surprised. I thought a couple months ago, she was almost a lock for the gig, but perhaps she did have strong competition. Over a year ago, I envisioned her as the number two person on the ticket, although I imagined it might be Elizabeth Warren as the Presidential nominee.

Last Sunday, professional wrestling luminary James "Kamala the Ugandan Giant" Harris, passed away. I remember him very well from my childhood but must have forgotten that his last name was Harris. I did not know how to correctly pronounce the politician's name at first because of Kamala the wrestler, and still many seem not to. What an ironic event of timing though, with this being the big week for Kamala Harris.

Whenever barriers are broken in America, I think it is a good thing and a reminder of what is possible in this great country. The Harris selection has broken a few of those, among them, most obviously her being the first woman of color on a major party ticket, and the first Asian-American (and Caribbean-American) on either. Her husband, Doug Emhoff, would also be the first Jewish person to be married to a President or Vice President.

Ever since her election to the U.S. Senate in 2016, Harris has been viewed as a very likely participant on a Presidential ticket. Her bid for the top job this cycle was surprisingly unsuccessful leading to doubts about her political appeal in a crowded field. I would mostly chalk it up to the fact that as a very liberal Democrat, who would obviously not much appeal to a shrinking number of old school Democrats) she was not liberal enough for the activist types. People either wanted ideological consistency or electability above all else, and others, including Biden on the latter, looked like better options. She clashed fairly bitterly with Biden in an early debate, and that apparently led to some severely hard feelings, but of course all that is put aside now, and the team is united and for the most party, the entire party is quite pleased with this selection.

The fact of the matter is that Kamala Harris is an extremely good position to become the first woman Vice President. Geraldine Ferraro and Sarah Palin were both picked by underdog candidates.While it looked, perhaps very much up to Election Day that Hillary Clinton would become the first female President, that did not happen. Now, it looks like Harris will, sooner or later, have a very good shot at breaking that glass ceiling.

To be clear, I agree with Harris and Biden very little on issues and if they win, as I think they probably will, I expect to be opposed to very much of their agenda. For those reasons, I cannot bring myself to vote for them. However, I can "root" for them and I find myself doing so, with mixed emotions. Donald Trump is just so unworthy and dangerous, both as a President and as a human, I feel like he must lose beyond all else. He will spend the rest of this campaign, as he has this past week, trying to mess with the Post Office or sow doubt about the democratic process itself.

Obviously, Harris and Biden are both worthy of criticism. It would be un-American for them to not be scrutinized during a Presidential campaign. It should be worth nothing, with disapproval, that Joe Biden is not even doing interviews in this campaign. As for Harris, I believe she has views that are too far to the left for the American mainstream and that she has been guilty of political and personal hypocrisy. Allies of Trump and the incumbent himself are unable to successfully counter this move by Biden though. Instead, we get attacks that sure sound more sexist or racist than substantive. (Of course, the reaction to the left and many in the media to Sarah Palin was beyond shameful.)

Few would have expected Trump to be magnanimous enough to congratulate Harris and welcome her to the race, but his particular rhetoric has been very telling in calling her such things as a "madwoman", etc. There is also the pathetic effort which he has played into to question her eligibility to serve in the highest offices of the land. Trump of course was once the nation's most prominent "birther" in regards to Barack Obama. He went on similar rants about Ted Cruz, back when the Texas Senator was a rival and not a sycophant and course he would have done the exact same thing to Marco Rubio, had Rubio not imploded on his own.

To be clear, Harris, born in Oakland, California is eligible Period. She was an American citizen at birth. It matters not that her parents were immigrants from Jamaica and India. Donald Trump's mother was an immigrant from Scotland after all and most of his children were born to immigrants as well.This just makes those in the Republican Party who try to use this as a wedge look pathetic. The entire effort to counter the Harris rollout has been a embodiment of political floundering above all else.

This week, Trump also congratulated a Congressional runoff winner in Georgia who is almost certainly headed to Congress and who is part of the ridiculous QAnon online cult. The party should have taken much bigger steps to prevent this from happening, but did not, and Trump seemed more than willing to express approval by sending a congratulatory Tweet. When asked at a press conference, he refused an opportunity to express any disapproval of QAnon, a collection of conspiracy theorists, who basically worship Trump, but have been described as a potential domestic terrorist threat. All of this shows that there will be some hard choices for the Republican Party even after Donald Trump leaves the political scene.


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