ART BY HAZUKI TONOMURA
Just eleven years ago, Barack Obama became the first black president in US history. Now as a woman of color seeks the 2020 presidency, the country seemingly turns a blind eye.
Once viewed as the strongest challenger to current US President, Donald Trump, Kamala Harris is now the fifteenth candidate to rescind their campaign trail, leaving thirteen Democrats in the race, most of whom are white.
Since her time as Attorney General of California, and current position as a junior Senator, Harris has been in the frontline of California politics. While Harris does not have much experience outside of her role as Attorney General and Senator, she is a minority who has, in many instances, broke the glass ceiling.
On January 21, 2019, Harris officially joined the race with over twenty Democratic candidates to represent said party and quickly became a frontrunner in the polls, with steady support and prominent fundraising numbers. For the most part, her campaign was going relatively well even with the aforementioned small budget for a candidate with such high regard. With CNN openly regarding her as the top candidate, many wondered who or what could stop Harris?
Despite her apparent lead, Harris’ favorability gradually diminished and a decisive lack of campaign funds alongside major internal conflicts ultimately ended her bid for the presidency. With no other woman of color in the race, the current political atmosphere has become an extremely discouraging sign for all American minorities, specifically women, who have aspirations of one day becoming the President of the United States of America.
Unfortunately, a mixture of her own skin color, gender and the lack of personal funds disallowed her from transcending the norms of presidency which have lasted for multiple centuries. In the beginning of the bid for the presidency, Harris raised an outstanding 1.5 million dollars in donations in twenty-four hours. As one of the earliest candidates to announce their run, Harris’ campaign already shadowed any other candidate. As the race continued, Harris dominated democratic debates. pushing her to the top of the polls. Even as her campaign slowed down, Harris still polled in the top five. Despite being a woman of color, Harris pushed the envelope as a political candidate.
As such a prominent black woman in politics, her candidacy made great strides for black women holding political office around the country, her advocacy for equal rights made her a strong candidate for black voters. It was no secret that in order to win the 2020 Democratic nomination, Harris would have to pull heavy Californian votes along with strong numbers from minorities and women nationally.
Harris also came under fire from her own management, as her state operations director abruptly resigned mid-campaign. Kelly Mehlenbacher, former state operations director penned her resignation letter to Harris exclaiming, “This is my third presidential campaign and I have never seen an organization treat its staff so poorly.”
As for Harris herself, she continues to express she is “in the fight.”
Harris ultimately pulled out of the race once her polls came in at an all-time low, solidifying she could not merely rely on blue party minorities in California.
In a letter penned to her followers she cited it as her campaign “simply not having the financial resources to continue,” a sad succumbing to a result she likely knew was possible all along. The dismal reality of the entire situation is that minorities and women are at a disadvantage entirely to gain major endorsements, sponsors and of course come from wealth which can self fund their campaign, a massive cost for one to shoulder by herself.
Harris’ attempt to become the exception led to a presidential campaign that exposed the subtle racism of America and reminded voters who they prefer: white, wealthy men.
Doubters of Harris point to her campaign being a failure due to her political skills beyond being a female minority candidate After her first debate her vote shares peaked, but that was nearly six months ago. Debate performances and rallies have been dubbed “average” and have been leading up to the point she had to drop out. By no means should one choose a candidate by their skin color or gender. The democratic process is a privilege: to choose a candidate that represents the beliefs of the voter. Harris’ campaign has been marred by her actions as reputation as Attorney General—on every side of the aisle. But at the same time, it is equally important to uplift minorities in positions dominated by a majority. Harris ran a strong campaign in the beginning, but as similar white candidates still hold strong numbers in the race, it is questionable about the future for minorities in politics.
Assuming that the fight is to dethrone Donald Trump, Harris’ lack of success and overall effect in the Presidential race will make such extremely hard to accomplish.