Last Friday, former Vice President Joe Biden finished off a rocky week with a raucous rally in the “First in the West” caucus state. Last night, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) came to the “scene of the crime” to make her own case that she’s the one best suited to defeat President Donald Trump next year.
According to Harris, “To prevent another four years of Donald Trump, we’ve got to prosecute the case against Donald Trump. To prosecute the case against Donald Trump, you need a prosecutor to do it!”
“The President of the United States is the Commander-in-Chief, and has herself one of the most important responsibilities the security of our homeland. […] We need a new Commander-in-Chief.”
– Kamala Harris
So how exactly does Kamala Harris plan to prosecute Trump on the campaign trail? According to Harris, “He sold a lot of people out. He told working people, ‘I got you. I see you. I’ll take care of you.’ Then, what did he do?”
Harris then answered that question: “He sold people out. He sold out our values.” She proceeded to explain why she views Trump’s 2017 tax plan, his ongoing effort to destroy the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare), and his ongoing trade war against much of the rest of the world as “selling out” the American people.
And she didn’t stop there. Harris also condemned Trump’s anti-immigrant regime as a “human rights abuse being committed by the United States government,” and she denounced Trump’s love for dictators like Russia’s Vladimir Putin and the Saudi royal family as a threat to national security. According to Harris, “The President of the United States is the Commander-in-Chief, and has herself one of the most important responsibilities the security of our homeland. […] We need a new Commander-in-Chief.”
“Dude gotta go!”
– Kamala Harris (and her crowd of supporters)
Even though the Giffords/March for Our Lives #2020GunSafety Forum was developed to focus on gun safety, a few in the press filing room kept asking the other candidates about Joe Biden, Ukraine, and impeaching Trump. Echoing Senator Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Massachusetts) earlier declaration that “our constitutional duty rises above politics”, Harris explained to reporters at the forum, “I am deeply troubled and saddened that we are going to have to spend our time holding accountable a president who is lawless, and who has no respect for the oath of office that he’s taken. Oh that it didn’t have to happen, but it does in the defense of our democracy.”
Harris kept this line of argument at the East Las Vegas Community Center last night. At her rally, Harris declared, “[Trump] starts bargaining away and holding hostage American taxpayer dollars for the sake of his own political survival. […] It is a violation of trust and duty, is a violation of the highest responsibilities of the office.” Harris continued, “It’s leading him to the very clear and very righteous path of impeachment.”
As the night continued, the crowd shouted out a chant that we also heard during Harris’ rally in Henderson two months ago. Eventually, Harris said it again herself: “Dude gotta go!” And from there, Harris explained why she’s convinced she’s the one who will make that happen.
“We need to heal, and we need a candidate who can unify the people around what we know to be true, which is there is far more that brings us together than keeps us apart.”
– Kamala Harris
As Harris continued her presentation in East Las Vegas, she warned, “We can not afford to approach this campaign as a way of dividing this country.” From there, she waded into the Democratic Party’s internal argument over whether “big, structural change” or “return to normalcy” is the ideal winning message for the party in 2020.
According to Harris, “I haven’t found one person on the campaign trail who tells me, ‘You know, the thing that keeps me up at night is the whole debate over socialism vs. capitalism.’ It’s not addressing what keeps people up tonight, and what will make people’s lives better tomorrow morning.”
From there, Harris seemed to echo Biden’s frequent calls for unity as she declared, “We need to heal, and we need a candidate who can unify the people around what we know to be true, which is there is far more that brings us together than keeps us apart.”
“People are working, they’re working two or three jobs just to get by. In the America we believe in, people should only need one job to keep a roof over their head.”
– Kamala Harris
Early yesterday morning, we learned that Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) was hospitalized and treated for an artery blockage. Harris and the other candidates mostly sent Sanders their well wishes during the Giffords/March for Our Lives Forum, which Sanders had been scheduled to attend but had to miss.
At East Las Vegas last night, Harris touched upon the kinds of economic justice issues that have formed the centerpiece of Sanders’ platform, yet she did so with her own unique twist: “In America today, this economy is not working for working people.” She continued, “People are working, they’re working two or three jobs just to get by. In the America we believe in, people should only need one job to keep a roof over their head.”
Harris then touted programs like her LIFT Act (up to $500 in monthly tax credits targeted for working-class families) and Rent Relief Act as real bills to offer real help for real people. While Harris has been praised by some progressive thought leaders for such legislation to address America’s growing poverty crisis, she hasn’t enjoyed as much praise for her other big social safety net expansion proposal.
“In my Medicare-for-All plan, I’m not going to take away your choice. If you want a private plan, you can have a private plan. If you want a public plan, you can have a public plan.”
– Kamala Harris
Remember when Kamala Harris touted her support for “Medicare for All”? She still does, yet her definition of “Medicare for All” has since changed from the single-payer health care plan that Sanders and Warren continue to promote, and it’s now a public-private hybrid plan where the nation will have ten years to essentially transition to a system where Americans can choose public Medicare insurance or an expanded version of Medicare Advantage.
As Harris explained her “Medicare for All” hybrid plan, “We’re going to tell the insurance companies, ‘If you want to enter our market, you have to play by our rules.’ We will limit co-pays and deductions, and cap out-of-pocket costs [at $200].”
Considering how the additional patient protections included in the Affordable Care Act resulted in consumers having to relinquish their “junk insurance” plans that didn’t include such protections (at least until Trump began allowing more of them back into the market), it seems highly unlikely that even Harris’ plan will avoid another round of such disruption. However, Harris still pledged, “In my Medicare-for-All plan, I’m not going to take away your choice. If you want a private plan, you can have a private plan. If you want a public plan, you can have a public plan.”
“Let us remember that one of the greatest strengths of who we are as a nation is by our very nature, we are aspirational. We are a nation founded upon noble ideals.”
– Kamala Harris
While Harris’ message has sometimes gotten muddied on issues like health care, her message sounds clearer on other issues, like gun violence. Despite the occasional concern trolling from rival candidates like Joe Biden and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg that Harris’ threat to use executive action on policies like background checks is counterproductive, Harris stands by her plan as a realistic way to actually make change happen.
For Harris, “The failure to act is not because we’ve been waiting for tragedy. It’s that we’ve failed to have the courage to act.” She continued, “It is time to act. Our babies’ lives are at stake. These bullets do not care if their babies are Democrats or Republicans. It is time to act!”
Harris kept that theme going all the way to the end of the night. In closing, she evoked the founding of the nation and contrasted her valuing of American ideals with Trump’s amorality. As Harris proclaimed, “Let us remember that one of the greatest strengths of who we are as a nation is by our very nature, we are aspirational. We are a nation founded upon noble ideals.”
She then concluded, “This is a fight born out of love for our country, and this is a fight we will win.” It’s definitely a fight Democrats want to win, yet it’s also a fight Democrats are still figuring out how to win. The next four months will determine whether Harris can convince the party she’s the one who can win this fight.