One thing we have learned during the interminable 2020 Democratic presidential primary process is that individual players lack independent agency. Various candidates have displayed a marked subservience that, in hindsight, explains the lockstep uniformity in getting behind establishment candidate Joe Biden.
Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) made her most notable surge during her run for the White House by harshly attacking the former vice president on his record on busing during the 1970s. She hit what can be termed the nuclear button in the identity politics-obsessed blue ranks by saying to Biden’s face at the first Dem debate in Miami in June 2019, “I do not believe you are a racist… But.” In Democrat circles, the dreaded R word is, of course, the biggest anvil you can drop on another’s head.
On March 8, 2020, Harris announced her enthusiastic endorsement of Biden, two days before a set of crucial state primaries in which the longtime Delaware senator hopes to pull decisively ahead of his last serious challenger, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Her move came about a week after aspirants Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) suddenly pulled out of the race and endorsed Biden just in time to boost him into Super Tuesday.
“He is kind and endlessly caring, and he truly listens to the American people,” Harris said of Biden. My, how things change. Not only did the vanquished Harris back the establishment favorite, but also did so at a time perfectly coinciding with the needs of a candidate whom she accused of sucking up to segregationists just last summer. You might dismiss this as just “playing ball,” but the fact is, Harris has shown she can be a very good foot soldier indeed. This was never more evident than in a gesture she made while still in the 2020 field, a relatively unheralded event that deserved far more attention for what it revealed about Harris.
On Oct. 27, 2019, as Harris was in the midst of campaigning as a “unifier,” she made the decision to travel to Virginia to endorse and rally with a state delegate up for re-election who should have been regarded as pure political poison to anyone seriously hoping to be the next president of the United States. Never mind personal opinion. For practical reasons, publicly backing Kathy Tran, who horrified the nation with a callous defense of her bill to allow abortion right up to the moment of birth, is not something a person seeking to win a national election would do. But there is strong reason to believe that powerful progressive forces were the drivers of Tran’s bill. It mirrored model legislation on the issue written by moneyed leftist groups. Tran did not appear to understand the details of her proposed legislation, even as she defended it on the Virginia House of Delegates’ floor. She seemed to be a mere cog in a larger machine. By dispatching Harris to rally for Tran’s re-election, the larger forces involved in this effort let the senator and other legislators know they would not be abandoned for going out on a limb. In filling this role, Harris looked for all the world like an errand girl completing a transaction.
Profiles in Servility
But that was only one of several peculiarities that dotted the extended Dem primary pre-voting calendar. So often it appeared that the candidates were dancing to a tune set by others. La Raza partisan Jorge Ramos moderated and dominated a September debate, grilling and, yes, bullying the candidates to determine whether or not they satisfied his desire for an open-borders policy on immigration.
The 2020 Dems on stage knew full well that they could not disagree with Ramos in any meaningful way, and so they hastened either to gain his favor or at the very least to not draw his personal disapproval. The appearance of weak submission was inescapable.
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who entered the race touting a fiery brand of economic populism, saw her campaign frequently sidetracked into exotic radical social positions that eventually proved disastrous. In the most ludicrous incident, Warren was gravely wounded by the agenda of the LGBTQ lobby Human Rights Campaign, which co-hosted a town hall with CNN in October 2019. During this event, Warren’s staffers, in an optics nightmare, allowed her to field a question from a 9-year-old transgender child on national television. To make matters worse, Warren doubled down on the politically loaded moment three months later by vowing that, if elected president, this child would personally vet her nominee to be secretary of education.
Politically savvy campaigns do not let such things happen. But those beholden to the will of outsiders do.
One more example may suffice. On the second night of the first debate in Miami, when Harris attacked Biden, all ten candidates on stage were asked to raise their hands, like schoolchildren, if they supported providing free health care for illegal aliens. All dutifully put up their hands. Included were Harris and Buttigieg. No doubt Klobuchar would have raised her hand, too, but she was in the first-night debate grouping. She confirmed her conformity on the issue shortly afterward.
So it is no surprise that Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and Harris allowed themselves to be bent and molded to serve Dem establishment needs in the fight to propel Biden over Sanders. After all, they and their fellow 2020 Dem hopefuls have proved repeatedly just how pliable they could be during the crazy slog of the Dem primary process.
Read more from Joe Schaeffer.