Election 2020

The Real Reasons Kamala's Campaign Fizzled Had Nothing to Do With Race

Kicking off her book tour, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) speaks at George Washington University on Jan. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Sait Serkan Gurbuz)

The Democrats’ Great Intersectional Black-Asian Female Hope finally fizzled out this week. As it turns out, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-KGB) was a horrible candidate, and not just because she used her authority as California attorney general to prosecute pro-life activists at Planned Parenthood’s behest. Also, running her campaign into the dirt didn’t help.

All the same, the familiar chorus of voices has shouted “Racism!” and “Sexism!” over Kamala’s sad demise, so it’s worth explaining the real reasons her presidential bid fizzled.

First, Kamala Harris constantly touted her history as a prosecutor, but she also wanted to appear hip and court Black Lives Matter. The thing is, Harris was a “law and order” candidate in California, and that doesn’t play very well with pro-pot criminal justice reform advocates.

So the senator decided to pander — and hard. She claimed to have smoked marijuana in college while listening to Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur. The only problem? Harris graduated Howard University in 1986, and she got her law degree in 1989. Snoop and Tupac didn’t hit the music scene until the 1990s. Voluntary mistakes like this made her actual record a liability, and decreased her credibility, to boot.

Harris’s big stand-out moment came in the first Democratic debate. In an orchestrated moment, she attacked frontrunner Joe Biden for opposing forced busing for racial integration. Not only did Kamala exaggerate her history, but she seized on a rather unpopular issue. School choice is a far better and more popular solution to educational disparities. While Kamala enjoyed a short-lived bump in the polls, her standout moment faded quickly.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Somewhat Sane) attacked Kamala before, during, and after the second round of Democratic debates, and her attacks stuck. She said Harris was “not qualified” to serve as president because she had no military experience. During the debate, she hit Kamala for laughing about weed while jailing people for it. Ouch!

Harris stood at a distant third in the polls — behind only Joe Biden (D-Nostalgia) and Bernie Sanders (S-USSR) — at the beginning of this year, but in May, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Left of Karl Marx) surpassed her. Then Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-Church of Social Justice) surpassed her in September. Also in September, she started to lose big Democratic donors.

In early November, Kamala’s campaign announced a round of layoffs and pay cuts. At the end of last month, state operations director Kelly Mehlenbacher resigned, leaking a damning letter to The New York Times.

“This is my third presidential campaign and I have never seen an organization treat its staff so poorly,” Mehlenbacher wrote. “With less than 90 days until Iowa we still do not have a real plan to win.”

Shortly before Harris finally dropped out, the Times painted a damning picture of her campaign. America’s newspaper of record interviewed “50 current and former campaign staff members and allies, most of whom spoke on condition of anonymity.” Those former allies did not describe a campaign doomed by the Democratic Party’s racism and sexism, but avoidable mistakes in the running of the campaign.

“Many of her own advisers are now pointing a finger directly at Ms. Harris,” the Times reported. “In interviews several of them criticized her for going on the offensive against rivals, only to retreat, and for not firmly choosing a side in the party’s ideological feud between liberals and moderates. She also created an organization with a campaign chairwoman, Maya Harris, who goes unchallenged in part because she is Ms. Harris’s sister, and a manager, Mr. [Juan] Rodriguez, who could not be replaced without likely triggering the resignations of the candidate’s consulting team.”

“Even at this late date, aides said it’s unclear who’s in charge of the campaign.” Ouch.

Democrats should just face it: Kamala wasn’t a good candidate and ran a bad campaign. But hey, blame racism and sexism if you want to. It’s no skin off my back if Democrats don’t actually learn how to run a better political campaign.

Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.