Kamala Harris suspends presidential campaign

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This past week has seen a record amount of candidates leaving the 2020 race. It all started with Joe Sestak on Sunday, followed by Steve Bullock on Monday. It was expected. The two candidates had a weak following in the polls and their money supply was running short. What was unexpected was who resigned Tuesday afternoon: Kamala Harris.

In a way, there had been signs of a campaign going awry. As mentioned in my last political column, there had been a complaint filed by a former staffer of mistreatment and misdirection. Her funds were running short due to a sharp downward slope in her polling numbers, forcing her campaign to lay off several employees. Still, it is surprising to me that she would drop out so quickly. 

There are many candidates running for president — 18, in fact — and only six of them currently hold higher polling averages than Harris, who dropped out at 3.4 percent. But even with her low polling numbers, Harris was still making headlines. So what ended the public’s support for her?

Her support peaked after the first democratic debate June 27 in Miami where she criticised Joe Biden’s stance on bussing. She came seemingly out of nowhere and proved herself to be a candidate unafraid to say what she thought and speak out against powerful big-name politicians. And, as the first debate centered heavily — as many of them do — on the idea of defeating President Donald Trump, she caught the public’s eye. If she can speak this way to Biden on the first night, well then, she can speak to Trump the same way. There was something about seeing that “gotcha” moment on stage, as Biden struggled to rebuff her argument that leapt out of the screen to me. I thought, there we go, she’s gonna tell it how it is. Maybe she will be the stand-out candidate the Democratic Party has been waiting for.

However, she could not seem to hold on to this moment long enough. At the second democratic debate, Biden finally fired back, holding her to her incriminating criminal justice record. And, just as quickly as she’d risen into the political eye, she fell back again. 

To be perfectly honest, Harris was never one of my favorite candidates. She really only went after Biden to gain an advantage on the debate stage, just like Julian Castro would do later on. I think her problem is that she never really moved on. Every debate promised a new feud between the former vice president and prosecuter. This was not sustainable, and it ultimately led to her downfall. 

This was especially unsustainable because she was a woman. As much as I hate to say it, female politicians are just judged on a different barometer than their male counterparts. They are seen as more bossy or catty, while men seem to be respected more when they choose to raise their voice. So, when Harris was challenged at the second debate by Biden or flip-flopped on her Medicare plan, there tended to be more headlines, more speculations, and more doubt. Some of this was deserved. But some, I dare to argue, was not. 

I remember getting chills during the fourth debate when Harris referred to the next president as a “she”. She was exciting to watch, and I liked seeing how she made her voice heard and asserted dominance over the other candidates. She was just the type of president I could see defeating Trump. I think that she was just too polarizing. She would vacillate between calling for unity in the Democratic Party to tearing apart her fellow candidates. Part of that, I know, is just the debate setup, but I feel like if she had been clearer about her objectives from the start, she may not have caused so much public doubt in her campaign. 

After her campaign ended, the San Francisco Chronicle ran the headline “Kamala Harris wasn’t cut out for it. Here’s what she should do now.” The advice of what she should “do now” being, “repair work… back home.” In contrast, Joe Sestak, who never managed to qualify for a debate, received credit from Politico for his objectives in the race and his former positions as a Pennsylvania congressman and three-star Navy admiral.

Kamala Harris, who was once in the top four democratic candidates, has now been reduced to a little-name politician who needs to go home. Perhaps it was her penchant to quarrel over promoting her plans. Perhaps it was just plain old sexism. Whatever it was, Harris does not completely deserve all of the comments that she has been receiving. 

The headlines mentioned above are a good reminder that, as a republic, we need to think more deeply about why it is we do not like a certain candidate. If we do this, we might come a few steps closer to evening the playing field between male and female politicians. 

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave your thoughts, comments and questions down below.