A black minister recently made the following pitch to Kamala Harris. With Purim, a Jewish holiday, in mind, he implored her to follow Queen Esther’s example and rescue low-wage earning Americans by disregarding Senate rules and smuggling a minimum wage hike into pandemic relief legislation.
It’s an obscene comparison. Queen Esther rescued Jews from death. A higher minimum wage would help some Blacks make a little more money (and cause others to lose their jobs).
The minister’s rant also smacked of cultural appropriation. However, I’m for that.
What, exactly, did the minister want Harris, Esther like, to do? He wanted her to overturn the Senate parliamentarian’s ruling that because a minimum-wage hike is not a budget measure, it had to be removed from the coronavirus relief bill in order for that legislation to be subject to the 50 vote threshold.
There were two problems with such a move by Harris. First, Joe Biden, her boss, has rejected the idea of overriding the parliamentarian. Second, an override wouldn’t have helped the push for the minimum wage hike in question because more than 50 Senators oppose it.
Attempts by the minister and others to shame Harris into a futile and self-destructive act highlight the difficult position in which she finds herself. The left considers her its champion and its reward for the affront of Joe Biden’s presidency. But Harris is powerless and lacking in influence.
A vice president can be influential if he or she brings special experience and/or intelligence to the job, like Dick Cheney did. Harris doesn’t.
A vice president can be influential if the president has respect and warm feelings towards him or her. It’s unlikely that Biden and those around him have such feelings towards Harris, given her weak performance in the 2019 campaign, the highlight of which was a well-planned attack on Biden for being, at best, racially insensitive.
The left thinks it deserves influence via Harris because, according to one of them, “we got these folks elected. . .” But the left didn’t cause Biden to win. It was always going to fully back the Democratic nominee. Biden won because white centrists switched from Trump to Biden, in part because Biden posed as a moderate.
And the left backed neither Biden nor Harris during the primary season. Its champions were Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
In any case, trying to gain influence by publicly calling in an alleged debt doesn’t seem like a great idea. It smacks of desperation.
Does Harris need the hard left to win the 2024 presidential nomination? I don’t think so. What she needs, in addition to Joe Biden’s absence from the race, is the support of mainstream black Democrats — the ones who rejected her in the 2019-20 race and who saved Joe Biden’s quest for the nomination.
There is some disconnect between the hard left and mainstream black Democrats, probably not on the minimum wage, but on other pet issues of the left. They include immigration, the environment, and maybe law enforcement by the time 2023 rolls around.
Thus, it’s not really in Harris’ interest to become the left’s true champion within the Biden administration. Her role model should be vice president Richard Nixon, not Queen Esther.
Harris’ seat is hot, but not as hot as leftists are making it out to be.