Friday Morning Open Thread: Kamala Harris Does the Work

It’s not sexxxay, by Media Village Idiot standards, but going out and asking people for their vote is the very heart of old-time politics:

The “Reckoning Crew,” a group of 100 predominately black female activists, announced its endorsement of the California Democrat on Thursday. The group, led by Bernice Scott, organizes in the rural part of Richland County, the state’s second biggest county…

Black voters made up 61% of South Carolina’s Democratic primary electorate in 2016; 37% identified as black women and 89% of them voted for Clinton over Sanders.

For her part, Harris has her own built-in network of black support that rose from her undergraduate years at Howard University, a historically black college in Washington, and sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha Inc., whose members she constantly singles out for selfies and makes time for conversation at various campaign events…

Scott first met Harris at a February town hall in in Columbia and said the way Harris presented herself clinched the endorsement.

“The way she shook my hand and talked directly to me,” said Scott, one of the first black elected officials in Richland. “The way she presented herself and handled herself, and talked about the way she was brought up — right there in my mind, I said I was going to support her.”

But the final approval from the Reckoning Crew came last Sunday morning during their weekly meeting, a day after Harris had delivered a forceful defense of her record as a prosecutor. Harris, who served as California’s attorney general and San Francisco’s district attorney, has faced attacks from the left because of it…

“Everybody was all piped up about her speech. They were really impressed and they felt that it was worth going out there and fighting for,” she said, adding that “our goal is to win South Carolina for Ms. Harris.”

The group, which fits the demographic of the types of voters Harris must win over, has already helped set up the campaign’s South Carolina headquarters and build volunteer efforts…

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Social Democracy vs Democratic Socialism

So, I tried to watch Bernie Sanders’ big speech yesterday, which was entitled “How Democratic Socialism Is the Only Way to Defeat Oligarchy and Authoritarianism.”

The speech was touted (preposterously, IMO) by at least one pundit as akin to then-candidate Obama’s famously effective “race” speech in Philadelphia. Obama’s speech, if you’ll recall, allowed the candidate to put the Reverend Wright flap behind him. Sanders’ speech was allegedly delivered to quell the specter of “socialism” that hangs over Sanders’ campaign.

I think Republicans are defanging the negative connotations associated with the word “socialism” by slapping the label willy-nilly on everything that benefits a non-corporate person. But while there’s zero chance I’ll vote for Sanders in the primary, I was interested to hear what he had to say about democratic socialism because I figured he’d use the occasion to stake out a difference between himself and a candidate I am interested in voting for: Elizabeth Warren.

I’ll level with y’all: I got bored and wandered off early in the speech. But I did read the transcript, and you can too here, if you’re interested. I can’t really recommend it, though, because it was basically a recycled stump speech from the 2020 race, which is basically a recycled stump speech from the 2016 race.

Americans in general have a hazy understanding of what the word “socialism” means. I am no exception, but here’s my definition: The distinction between social democracy as practiced in, say, Sweden, and democratic socialism has to do with ownership of the means of production. Democratic socialists want the people to own the means of production — eventually, and by democratic consensus — whereas social democrats are mostly focused on regulating capitalism and ensuring its fruits are shared more equitably.

If that’s the correct definition, Sanders is a social democrat, not a democratic socialist, according to his speech yesterday, as was FDR, whose political heir Sanders says he aspires to be. Elizabeth Warren is also a social democrat by that definition, and so is every candidate who wants to transform the way wealth is distributed in the United States in a truly significant way.

Anyhoo, since Sanders failed to make a case for himself over Warren in a definitional sense, the job was left to his paid and unpaid media spokespeople, including one perched over at The Post, Elizabeth Bruenig, who had to resort to misrepresenting Warren’s views in a column entitled “So, what’s the difference between Warren and Sanders?” Bruenig accuses Warren of tinkering around the margins in the conclusion:

But for those who see our political moment as a crisis greater in breadth and content than a few unenforced or misbegotten laws, Sanders’s wide-ranging, historical approach may have greater appeal on its second try than its first.

Ms. Bruenig shouldn’t count on that. The real difference between the two is getting clearer by the day.

Thursday Morning Open Thread: Elizabeth Warren Is Having A Moment

Yes, I would be embarrassed by my obvious selection bias, but right at this moment in time it’s easier to find interesting stories about Warren than about her worthy competitors. So, if you have links to share concerning Harris, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Booker, O’Rourke, Gillibrand, et al — even Joe Biden! — please leave a comment, or contact me at annelaurie (dot) bj (at) gmail (dot) com, TIA.

(Besides, the alternative for today’s early-morning uplift was the Steve King / Diamond & Silk ‘press conference’ fiasco.)

Paul Waldman, at the Washington Post, “Why Elizabeth Warren is surging”:

Overinterpreting small movements in polls is always dangerous, but if she does continue to rise — and right now she looks like one of the only Democratic candidates who is gaining support — there are some particular reasons why, reasons that may help us understand what primary voters are thinking and how the media are shaping the race…

… Warren, a senator from Massachusetts, is drawing some of the largest crowds as she campaigns across the state. Those attending her events testify to her skill in winning people over, her ability to describe policy challenges through effective storytelling, and her seemingly inexhaustible energy and enthusiasm.

Then there’s the role of the media. For a variety of reasons, Warren has become the favored candidate of the liberal opinion-writing elite. Even those (such as myself) who aren’t endorsing any candidate have been complimenting Warren for a while, writing and talking about her in ways that may be having an impact on how everyone else sees her and her candidacy…

There’s something else Warren has that wins respect from those who have covered lots of campaigns, and winds up producing better media coverage in subtle ways: A clear, coherent message of the kind most of the other candidates are lacking.
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Late Night Schadenfreude Open Thread: Bad News for the Sanders Campaign

“Figures lie and liars figure!…”

In other words: When Biden announced, Sanders lost 8 points, which he has since regained. Of course, his numbers could continue to improve… but since March, Elizabeth Warren has gone from 4 points to 15. And she’s trending!

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Wednesday Morning Open Thread: Don’t You Think He Looks… Tired?

(Jim Morin via