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Solomon writes: "Among the Democratic presidential candidates, the viable alternatives to the Biden and Harris corporatist duo are the progressive candidate Elizabeth Warren and the more progressive candidate Bernie Sanders."

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaking at a press conference in New Castle, DE on May 30, 2019. (photo: Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto/Getty Images)
Former Vice President Joe Biden speaking at a press conference in New Castle, DE on May 30, 2019. (photo: Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto/Getty Images)

Corporate Team of Rivals: Harris Now in Top Tier With Biden to Prevent a Progressive Nominee

By Norman Solomon, Reader Supported News

08 July 19


he odds are now very strong that Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, or Bernie Sanders will be the Democratic presidential nominee. New polling averages say they account for almost 70 percent of support nationwide, while no other candidate is anywhere near. For progressives who want to affect the news instead of just consume it, active engagement will be essential.

Biden is the most regressive Democrat with a real chance to head the ticket. After amassing a five-decade record littered with odious actions and statements, he now insists that the 2020 campaign “shouldn’t be about the past” — an evasive and ridiculous plea, coming from someone who proclaims himself to be “an Obama-Biden Democrat” and goes to absurd lengths to fasten himself onto Obama’s coattails, while also boasting of his past ability to get legislation through Congress.

As he campaigns, Biden persists with disingenuous denials. During the June 27 debate, he flatly — and falsely — declared: “I did not oppose busing in America.” On July 6, speaking to a mostly black audience in South Carolina, he said: “I didn’t support more money to build state prisons. I was against it.” But under the headline “Fact Check: Joe Biden Falsely Claims He Opposed Spending More Money to Build State Prisons,” CNN reported that “he was misrepresenting his own record.”

Biden used the Fourth of July weekend to dig himself deeper into a centrist, status-quo trench for his war on the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. During a repeatedly cringeworthy interview, Biden told CNN that what can’t be done includes Medicare for All, tuition-free public college, and student debt cancelation. Bernie Sanders quickly responded with a tweet calling Medicare for All, debt-free college, and a Green New Deal “the agenda American needs — and that will energize voters to defeat Donald Trump.”

No one has summed up Biden’s political stance better than Elizabeth Warren, who told the California Democratic Party convention five weeks ago: “Some Democrats in Washington believe the only changes we can get are tweaks and nudges. If they dream, they dream small. Some say if we all just calm down, the Republicans will come to their senses.” She added: “When a candidate tells you about all the things that aren't possible, about how political calculations come first … they’re telling you something very important — they are telling you that they will not fight for you.”

Being preferable to Joe Biden is a low bar, and Kamala Harris clears it. But, like Biden, she stands to lose potential support from many self-described liberals and progressives to the extent they learn more about her actual record.

Overall, Harris’s work as San Francisco’s DA and the California attorney general was not progressive. Lara Bazelon, former director of the LA-based Loyola Law School Project for the Innocent, wrote in a New York Times column early this year: “Time after time, when progressives urged her to embrace criminal justice reforms as a district attorney and then the state’s attorney general, Ms. Harris opposed them or stayed silent. Most troubling, Ms. Harris fought tooth and nail to uphold wrongful convictions that had been secured through official misconduct that included evidence tampering, false testimony and the suppression of crucial information by prosecutors.”

Last week, Bazelon said: “Kamala Harris claims to be a champion of criminal justice reform. But as a prosecutor … she was anything but. She needs to make the case to the voters that her change of heart is genuine. Crucial to that case is reckoning with her past.”

That past needs scrutiny, especially since Harris has refused to acknowledge there was anything wrong with it.

“As the top law enforcement official” of San Francisco and then California, The New York Times reported in a February news article, “she developed a reputation for caution, protecting the status quo and shrinking from decisions on contentious issues.” Reporter Kate Zernike wrote:

  • “Years before ending mass incarceration became a bipartisan cause, she started programs to steer low-level drug offenders away from prison and into school and jobs. At the same time, she touted her success in increasing conviction rates, and as attorney general remained largely on the sidelines as California scrambled to meet a federal court order to reduce its swollen prison populations. She also repeatedly sided with prosecutors accused of misconduct, challenging judges who ruled against them.”

  • When Harris first ran statewide, for California attorney general in 2010, “she had campaigned to the right of her Republican opponent on the question of easing the state’s tough three-strikes law. Once in office, she declined to take positions on ultimately successful ballot initiatives intended to reduce prison populations — one expanding opportunities for parole, the other reducing many nonviolent felonies to misdemeanors.”

  • “After the Supreme Court upheld the judges’ overcrowding order, the state promised to ‘promptly’ release a significant number of nonviolent prisoners, giving credit for time served. A delay in meeting that promise drew a judicial scolding in 2014. The state’s response proved embarrassing, and unsuccessful: Reducing the prison population, Ms. Harris’s office maintained, would hurt California’s ability to fight wildfires by shrinking the pool of forced labor.”

  • “Ms. Harris won praise for releasing statewide data in a way that informed rather than inflamed the brutality debate: It included numbers on the use of police force but also on use of force against officers. She instituted body cameras for police agents who worked in her office, and offered implicit-bias training for police statewide. But she declined to support statewide regulations for the use of body cameras, agreeing with local departments that they should set their own standards. And she did not support a bill that would have required the attorney general to investigate police shootings.”

  • Early in this decade, responding to the house foreclosure crisis, “the banks agreed to $18 billion in debt reduction that Ms. Harris said would allow California homeowners to stay in their homes, and the national agreement included $2.5 billion for a fund to provide educational counseling and other services for those in danger of foreclosure. But critics, especially on the left, have long said that the settlement was no grand bargain. It did not require banks to pay much out of pocket; $4.7 billion of the $18 billion in relief came from forgiving second mortgages, many of which the banks would have written off anyway because they were so severely underwater, and $9 billion came from homeowners selling their homes for less than the value of their mortgages, meaning that homeowners did not stay in their homes.”

The New Republic recently summed up: “From her role in a California prison labor debate to her prosecutions of sex workers,” Kamala Harris “has a past of her own to defend.”

It's sometimes difficult to gauge what Harris really believes in, especially in light of her tactical backsliding and flip-flops. Longtime observers had no reason to be surprised last week when she walked back her forceful debate position that the federal government shouldn’t leave it to localities to assist school desegregation with busing. “Harris muddied the waters,” the Associated Press reported, when “she told reporters she too did not support federally mandated busing and supported it only as an option for local governments.”

On foreign policy, the little that Harris has to say is often hazy while conforming with mainstream Democratic Party militarism. In the Senate, she has voted for six of eight major military spending bills.

Harris — who co-sponsored a bill to withhold U.S. dues to the United Nations because of a UN Security Council resolution that condemned illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank — pandered to AIPAC while delivering 2017 and 2018 speeches to the Israel-can-do-no-wrong organization. While acquiescing to requests from MoveOn and other groups that presidential candidates not speak to AIPAC’s 2019 conference in late March, she pulled off a smooth maneuver, as Mondoweiss pointed out: “Harris is a very pragmatic politician, and the conference came to her yesterday! She met leading AIPAC officials at her office and then tweeted her devoted support to Israel.”

Harris’s tweet shared the news: “Great to meet today in my office with California AIPAC leaders to discuss the need for a strong U.S.-Israel alliance, the right of Israel to defend itself, and my commitment to combat anti-Semitism in our country and around the world.” But progressive journalist Ben Norton did not share in the upbeat mood as he tweeted: “Far-right Israeli PM Netanyahu just formed an alliance with a literal fascist party, and is bombing people trapped in the Gaza concentration camp right now, but fake ‘progressive’ Kamala Harris is meeting with AIPAC and praising the apartheid regime.”

Yet Harris does not adhere completely to AIPAC positions. She co-sponsored the Yemen war powers bill introduced by Bernie Sanders. And she has expressed support for the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by President Obama that was canceled by President Trump.

The military-industrial complex might prefer Biden to Harris. But from all indications, that complex would be quite comfortable with a President Harris, and vice versa. The same goes for Wall Street and other big corporate sectors. No wonder they’re pouring many millions of dollars into the Biden and Harris campaign coffers.

However tense and testy the current relations between Biden and Harris might be, their falling out is likely to be temporary. “I adore Joe Biden,” she proclaimed in mid-spring when he was on the verge of announcing his campaign. Anyone who doubts the prospect of a rapprochement — and even a shared ticket — is forgetting how easily campaign-trail conflicts can be jettisoned a little bit down the road. In 1980, George H.W. Bush fought Ronald Reagan for the GOP presidential nomination all the way to the convention, even after losing the vast majority of primaries, and tensions were raw; then came the Reagan-Bush ticket.

Among the Democratic presidential candidates, the viable alternatives to the Biden and Harris corporatist duo are the progressive candidate Elizabeth Warren and the more progressive candidate Bernie Sanders. While Warren is impressive in many ways, I continue to actively support Sanders. As an eloquent essay by Shaun King recently underscored, Sanders — like no other member of the Senate or candidate for president — has boldly participated in progressive movements for his entire adult life. That orientation toward social movements is crucial in a time of profound needs for fundamental change, in an era of multiple and concentric crises — from record-breaking economic inequality to extreme corporate greed to racist xenophobia to the climate emergency to rampant militarism and so much more. No matter how distasteful or repugnant, the electoral process is an opening for progressive forces to be influential and potentially decisive.

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Norman Solomon is co-founder and national coordinator of He was a Bernie Sanders delegate from California to the 2016 Democratic National Convention and is currently a coordinator of the relaunched independent Bernie Delegates Network. Solomon is the author of a dozen books including War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.

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+32 # chapdrum 2019-07-08 11:06
Biden and Harris should join another party. The former is hardly a Democrat, the latter is almost entirely responsible for not reigning in the toxic "Secretary of the Treasury" when she had the chance.
+4 # John Cosmo 2019-07-08 13:47
Yes, Biden and Harris could both run as moderate Republicans and be successful.
+12 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-07-08 16:15
chap -- yes, she took campaign contributions from Steve Mnuchin and so she is now part of his protection team. Harris seems to be cultivating some very corrupt backers. She's hired Mark Elias head of the political law group at Perkins Coie. He was also the Clinton campaign general counsel. He hired Fusion GPS. His law firm is now under two federal campaign finance violations for money laundering in the Fusion case and in the case of contributions to Clinton from Ukrainian oligarchs. It appears that Harris wants him to do the same for her.

She does not seem to have any sort of sensitivity to corruption in politics. She seems to think that is how it is played. This is from Bloomberg:

"Mnuchin’s Bank Accused of Redlining Black, Latino Home Buyers"

Mnuchin's bank, OneWest, seems to have gone out of its way to defraud poor people, African Americans and Latinos. As Calif Attorney General, Harris did nothing to defend these people but became good friends with Steve Mnuchin. Mnuchin is Trump's kind of guy. He also seems to Harris' kind of guy.
+7 # carp 2019-07-09 11:06
That party should be the C party. C for corporate open to republicans and democrats that work for their corporate donors.
+12 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-07-08 13:11
Biden and Harris will drive a lot of progressive democrats into third parties, especially the Greens. The may be the lesser of two evils against Trump but many people are tired of voting for the lesser of two evils. They'll vote Green or just stay home. Then Trump goes back for a second term.

A vote for Biden or Harris is really a vote for Trump.

But I think both will implode and self-deconstruc t. Biden is a lot like a re-run of Bill Clinton. Harris is like voting for a rattlesnake. She's always on the offensive. She goes after people personally. And she seems to have no shame in doing it. I guess it is her prosecutor's experience.

I think Solomon is right. The sheep have begun to separate from the goats. I think Tulsi Gabbard may belong in the group of four that Solomon lists. She's got the popular appeal and intellectual honesty that Biden and Harris totally lack. She was the winner fo the last debate according to popular respons. The elite media loved Harris but that is because she is as Caitlin Johnson has called he "The oligarch's wet dream."
-3 # JCM 2019-07-09 18:28
"They'll vote Green or just stay home." I can only hope that we have all learned a lesson from the 2016 election. If you vote third party or stay home - we get rump.
On the other hand in 2018 we stayed together and made significant gains. Easy choice.
+15 # librarian1984 2019-07-09 20:50
Yes, it's an easy choice but you just won't make it.

The lessons neoliberals should have learned are: 1) keep the primaries honest and let the PEOPLE choose their candidate, 2) pay attention to polling, and 3) unite behind the progressive candidate .... but somehow I think what you really mean is that progressives should sit down, shut up, hold their nose and vote for the establishment, lesser-of-two-e vils candidate .... again.


It was letting the establishment make all the decisions that got us Trump ... and they are doing the exact same thing again. How do you not see that it's the Democratic Party and DNC that got us here?

You always want US to unite behind YOUR candidate. It never seems to occur to you to compromise with us, even though polling consistently shows it's a progressive agenda that voters want.

Why should we help put in yet another corrupt corporate warmonger just because they have better table manners than Trump?

YOU unite behind OUR candidate for a change. Or, at the very least, let's have a non-rigged primary.
+2 # DongiC 2019-07-10 16:17
Very well said, librarian. I see we are on the same side once again. Fun to fight with you and for you.
-4 # JCM 2019-07-11 07:46
BlahBlah1984: Apparently you haven't stop putting words in other people’s mouths.
It was your mindset that helped rump (who you thought was "at least honest") win.
If after the primaries our best progressive candidate loses then we must support the winner. Any Democratic candidate would be better than rump. But you didn't learn that lesson, telling people to punish the Dems. You only helped rump win. Now the repubs have the supreme court, they can gerrymander to their heart's delight and might soon destroy the ACA. That's what voting for a third party or staying home did.
Now is the time to support the best progressive candidate. I worry that the progressive votes will splinter between Sanders and Warren during the primaries and will bring a win to a more establishment candidate. But whoever wins we must support him or we lose.
+4 # librarian1984 2019-07-12 17:50
As I thought, you haven't learned a thing. Keep supporting the corrupt establishment Democrats as they give US another four years of Trump.

You're so ready to blame everyone else, so unwilling to look in the mirror.

Ref Einstein's definition of insanity.
-3 # JCM 2019-07-14 08:28
BlahBlah: Tell us what in my words show any support for establishment candidates during the primaries. I am for Bernie and I have told everyone that many times. But if my candidate fails to win in the primaries I will support any Dem that wins in the primary. Any Dem is better than a republican but it is you who fail to realize that and now we have lost the supreme court. It is you who continue to promote punishing the Dems that inevitably helps the republicans to win. I’d call that insanity. We want to beat trump, staying home or voting third party won’t do it.
+6 # davehaze 2019-07-09 23:04
If we just vote for the republican democrat the world will rapidly continue down the toliet climare-crisis- wise. We need radical non-corporate-o ligarch change or we may as well be stuck with Trump.
-2 # JCM 2019-07-11 08:04
davehaze: You think voting for a third party is going to make a difference, “or we may as well be stuck with Trump." Seriously, do you think that even if Hillary had won (I had plenty of issues with her i.e. neocon) we would be in this extreme loss of democracy. I agree with you about the change but you won’t get it if you vote third party. You will only help the repubs win.
+6 # laborequalswealth 2019-07-12 10:33
After voting for the lesser of two evils for the better part of the last 50 years, all that remains is...evil.
+2 # chapdrum 2019-07-18 15:28
-2 # Old Liberal 2019-07-08 13:40
I want candidate who will not simply represent my own views and aspirations, but who can speak effectively to honest, concerned people (often from other class and regional backgrounds) who hold other views and how can draw in enough of these other people to put together a governing majority in the presidential race and in congress. I suspect this means an incremental approach to radical goals, but will happily settle for whatever seems likely to attain the goals !
+11 # Lgfoot 2019-07-10 09:45
We don't have time for incremental goals. When the permafrost melts and comes out of the oceans it will be game over. This is a one time opportunity to take government back from the oligarchs who are killing the planet, and its inhabitants, for profit.
+8 # DongiC 2019-07-08 14:51
Biden and Harris are both establishment candidates . Few, if any, progressive reforms will be implemented on their watch and as for global warming and plastic abundance and species disappearing, kiss those issues good-bye. The power elites are conspicuous on these matters by their silence. Good-bye Earth, it was great to know you.
+11 # Inspired Citizen 2019-07-08 19:06
Let them unite. Progressives should NOT divide and split between neo-liberal (Clintonian) Senator Warren and social democrat Senator Sanders.

ONLY Bernie can defeat Trump. In fact, like it or not, #BernieOrBust is a foregone conclusion for 2020. That probably was true in 2016, but the research on 70 years of voter behavior did not get published by Thomas Piketty until 2018.

Unless the economy collapses before Nov. 2020, ONLY Sanders can beat Trump. #math
+4 # davehaze 2019-07-09 23:12

Im still under the impression that any of the 20-some would beat trump excepting Biden but Biden's chances are as doomed as his last two runs for the presidency. He is a disgrace thats why the disgraceful democratic party loves him. They hilariously think its his turn!
+3 # goodsensecynic 2019-07-09 05:42
Good so far ... now, what about Sanders and Warren on foreign policy?

It's not that I oppose either "progressive" candidate or that I even know much about either one's views on military matters or global economic and political issues. It's just that neither has been particularly vocal on such matters and it might be nice to know where they stand.

(Of course, if their views are like my own, maybe they'd better keep quiet lest they be denounced as too far "left" for most Americans to accept. And, as Mr. O'Neill nicely put it: "All politics is local.")
+3 # librarian1984 2019-07-09 20:34
Warren is much less progressive on foreign policy and much kinder to Israel.

Here is Sanders discussing foreign policy at Westminster College, where he received an honorary doctorate in political science. He begins speaking 9:50 in:
+6 # dbrize 2019-07-10 13:40
Quoting goodsensecynic:
Good so far ... now, what about Sanders and Warren on foreign policy?

It's not that I oppose either "progressive" candidate or that I even know much about either one's views on military matters or global economic and political issues. It's just that neither has been particularly vocal on such matters and it might be nice to know where they stand.

(Of course, if their views are like my own, maybe they'd better keep quiet lest they be denounced as too far "left" for most Americans to accept. And, as Mr. O'Neill nicely put it: "All politics is local.")


• Says we need to "stand up to Assad"
• Supports the Venezuelan opposition
• Voted for and supports sanctions on Iran
• Voted to increase Trump's military budget
• Says we need to "hold Assange accountable"
• Says supporting Israel is a "moral imperative"

Probably a good idea to ask her a few questions?
+3 # laborequalswealth 2019-07-12 10:36
Ugh. I need to look further into Warren. This is sickening.

Tulsi Gabbard seems to be the only one who is firmly talking about reigning in the MIC.
+3 # librarian1984 2019-07-12 14:45
Sanders explicitly talks about the oligarchs and billionaire class.

His campaign has just put up an 'Anti-endorseme nt' web page that lists many b/millionaires, people like Jamie Diamon and Alan Greenspan, who are against Sanders.
+3 # dbrize 2019-07-09 22:21
The always readable James Howard Kunstler excerpt from his latest clusterfluck nation column gives a heads up how the GOP will frame their 2020 opponents:

‘There is reason to believe that a majority of voters are good and goddam sick of identity hustling and the tiresome racket of political correctness that spawned it. They see its bottomless appetite for grievance and complaint — against a reality in which life is difficult for everybody, not just self-proclaimed victims of oppression. They smell the odor of bad faith in the party’s campaign for an open border with Mexico and its abject refusal to legislate immigration law reform — while grandstanding about the alleged mistreatment of people who cross the border illegally. Most of all, they are sick of the endless moral instruction and coercion, especially over “gender” issues and sexual boundary-stretc hing, the parades of freaks in dog masks, ball gags, and S & M get-ups, not to mention the utter insanity of the drag queen story hour, in which men perform as monstrous caricatures of women for impressionable six-year-olds. That is what it’s come to for the party of Franklin Roosevelt and Jack Kennedy.’

For those interested the entire column is worth the read. Those with faith that TDS will be enough for the Dems in 2020 might want to pay more attention to getting their own house in order.
+3 # laborequalswealth 2019-07-12 10:39
In other words, the New Yorker and its neoliberal/neoc on staff will do ANYTHING to try to destroy progressive candidates. Harping on these "you don't act nice!!!" issues is nothing more than pandering to the even more insane right wing fundamentalist nut cases.

Stop listening to these NY neocons pretending to give a shit about the rest of us.
+4 # laborequalswealth 2019-07-12 10:30
The corporate DNC is absolutely committed to insuring Trump's second term. Why not? They both feed at the same trough and have the same mega-rich sponsors corrupting them.

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