The selection of Kamala Harris as Joe Biden's running mate offers real hope for a return of the Democratic Party to a focus on achieving equity goals through focused legislative and administrative actions.
Because of the domination of political rhetoric by ideologues and populists who like to talk at the expense of achievement, I have no idea what it means to be a "progressive" or a "liberal" in these times.
All I know is that I have always identified as a "California Democrat" with a clear understanding of what that means. It begins with a clear understanding that the endemic racial, ethnic, class, religious, ideological, and nationalist bigotry in the United States must be eliminated as that bigotry interferes with the achievement of equity goals. "Equity goals" were always clear in my lifetime, derived from the Franklin Roosevelt Administration's New Deal as expanded upon by Harry Truman's Administration's "Fair Deal" through Lyndon Johnson's Administration's Great Society:
- to first protect all persons from harm resulting from intentional acts of others;
- to manage and regulate Capitalism and the financial system (the latter including close focus on the banking industry) in order to assure all fair access to pride of ownership;
- to sustain economic growth to keep pace with population growth while assuring all persons access to jobs at fair wages and access to housing at fair rents;
- to share among all the benefits of agricultural abundance in the form of affordable nutritious food;
- to assure universal health care;
- to create access to quality education services for everyone; and
- to assure all persons a minimum income necessary for access to sufficient food, clothing, shelter, and health care.
Harris has been part of the continuing struggle by California Democrats to achieve those goals including eliminating the end of bigotry. Because of what has been achieved in California despite our many failures and restarts, Donald Trump's campaign team has already begun to attack Harris for being a California Democrat. Simply they can attack Harris based on her Senate voting record which reflects her commitment to equity goals.
The chart above reflects the voting records of U.S. Senators during the 2017-2019 session on bills that would result in more economic equity within the United States. Assuming that Bernie Sanders reflects some sort of "gold standard" of "liberalism" As can be seen, three Senators measured more liberal than Sanders and only Elizabeth Warren's voting record was more liberal.
While I would like to say Californian's unequivocally support equity goals and oppose bigotry, that is a false idea. Consider two examples.
Harris has a solid record challenging bigotry even when bigotry was clearly supported by the majority of voters.
In 2000, voters passed ballot initiative Proposition 22 with a margin of 61%, which changed California Family Code to formally define marriage in California between a man and a woman. Proposition 22 was a statutory change via the initiative process, not a constitutional change via the initiative process.
On November 4, 2008, Proposition 8 "Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry" was approved by the voters. The measure was challenged in federal court as unconstituional. In 2013 as the measure made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, then California Attorney General Kamala Harris refused to defend the measure stating "It's well within the authority vested in me as the elected attorney general to use the discretion of my office to make decisions about how we will use our resources and what issue we will weigh in on or not."
As you can see from the maps above, California's voters do not have a consistent record regarding equity goals or anti-bigotry. Yet strangely, we keep electing politicians like Harris who methodically lead us towards those objectives. It takes considerable courage to provide that kind of leadership.
This is why as a California Democrat one easily can support the Biden-Harris ticket.