One of the firmest rules in modern American politics these days is that candidates need to get out there and define themselves before somebody else gets a chance to do it for them. That seems to be a lesson that hasn’t been lost on California Senator and presidential hopeful Kamala Harris (D). Her greatest fear clearly appears to be the risk of being seen as part of the old Democratic establishment in an era of aggressive young socialists influencing their party. She made that point clear when she showed up for church services in Atlanta this weekend, talking about the “end of an era” for the Democratic Party and how people should know when it’s time to “pass the baton.” (Associated Press)
California Sen. Kamala Harris sent a signal to the old guard of Democratic politics that every era has its end.
At an Atlanta church service Sunday, the presidential candidate compared leadership to a relay race in which each generation must ask themselves “what do we do during that period of time when we carry that baton.”
Then she added with a smile that for “the older leaders, it also becomes a question of let’s also know when to pass the baton.”
The AP is reading this as a shot across the bow at some of the older, establishment figures in the Democratic Party, but who specifically? They’re guessing she’s talking about Joe Biden, and that’s fair to speculate. Uncle Joe is lapping the field in national polling and at least tripling Harris’ numbers in most surveys. She’s going to have to start doing something to start chipping away at his lead eventually, but she’s walking a tightrope in terms of not coming off as being too disrespectful of him. It could also be seen as an unsubtle dig at Biden’s age since he’s literally part of the “old guard” of the Democrats.
If it’s only literal age being referred to, the same could be said for Bernie Sanders. But in terms of his political history and positions, he’s about as far out of the mainstream as you can get. My first reaction, however, was to think that Harris might have been talking about people such as Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi. They’ve been viewed as party leaders for a long time.
But it’s a bit of a stretch for Harris to suggest that she’s one of the new, young guns with fresh ideas, isn’t it? First of all, if we’re talking about literal age, Harris is certainly younger than Biden, Sanders or Pelosi, but that’s not saying much. She’s in her fifties. There are younger candidates running against her. And even in terms of ideology, Harris is new to positions currently being taken by the actual young guns. She’s been more of a traditional centrist Democrat for her entire career. She’ll be playing catch-up on issues like gender definitions, criminal justice reform, pot legalization, reparations and a host of other topics.
Then again, perhaps she can simply flip a switch and lock herself into all the new, far-left hotness. Kirsten Gillibrand has flip-flopped on every topic under the sun and she’s still in office. Why not give it a try?