Kamala Harris’withdrawal from the presidential race brings reality to the people of color narrative

Ethnicity versus ‘people of color’ …

Last week U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, Democrat of California, ended her campaign for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president.  Ms. Harris cited insufficient funds necessary for securing victory in the primaries.  I thought Ms. Harris would at least make it to the New Hampshire primary in February, but with reportedly only $10 million on hand, Ms. Harris decided that being the nominee was not in the cards.

The Democrats have been pushing the “people of color” description of candidates this cycle and Ms. Harris was one of its poster faces.  The daughter of a Jamaican father and an Indian mother, Ms. Harris put on the cloak of American blackness, marketing her membership in the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and harping her alumni status as a graduate of the historically black Howard University.

For voters outside of black culture Ms. Harris may have appeared to have some advantage with black voters, giving her at least a shot at surpassing former Vice President Joe Biden and winning the South Carolina primary also scheduled for February 2020. But for a significant portion of black American voters, ethnicity still matters.

A lot of blacks don’t like being called ‘people of color’….

I detest the term, ‘people of color.’  It means nothing culturally to many blacks who see the term as just another way to dilute blackness or move blacks further down the political food chain.  The term “physicalizes” the issue of race and ethnicity making black just a color when in actuality American blackness runs far deeper.

To be black in America is to acknowledge and embrace a view of life that celebrates and practices a sense of resiliency in the face of centuries long discriminatory and oppressive acts; acts that reflected a western philosophy that said it was right to turn human beings into chattel and dispose and replace them like any part in a machine.  To be black in America is to be reminded that you navigate a political economy that still doesn’t see you as human.

Like Ms. Harris, I too am Caribbean, born and bred.  While we cannot claim the pain and triumph of being black American, we should instead be honest about our own story and own it.  Co-opting another culture’s story for your own gain is pretty treacherous and this act, I believe, underlay the backlash against Ms. Harris. Ms. Harris was afraid to be herself or at least project her real self.

She may have believed that with the success of another “people of color” favorite, Barack Obama, that she could ride the Obama Coalition to victory.  I am just speculating, but if this was indeed the case, that thought only demonstrated that she was very out of touch. In the almost three years that have passed since Mr Obama left office, his presidency is now viewed by a growing number of blacks as ineffective and valueless where he failed to implement policies with an eye on a black economic and political empowerment agenda.  Ms. Harris, given her questionable past as a prosecutor, was also being viewed that way.

The people of color path to governance is debris filled…

Ms. Harris’ withdrawal represents the beginning of the end of the people of color narrative.  I believe more blacks, particularly those with an eye on changes in global economics and politics and America’s slow but deliberate move toward isolationism, will determine that an ethnic, more independent route to winning more political power is the way to go.  Unlike Ms. Harris, who appears to have never found herself, black America can’t afford to lose itself.

Deep down inside, Democrats want a tyrant …

The executive in a republican form of government …

In a republican form of government, the goal is to temper the passions of the masses in order to maximize your goal for governing: the garnering of the spoils from capturing the government; to direct public capital in a way that awards leadership while placating the citizenry.  Populism is to be squelched if the state is to be efficiently administered.  You can’t have efficient administration if the executive is constantly competing with a citizenry that makes demands for more resources where such demands tend to be driven more by emotion and a limited view of alternatives for garnering resources versus pragmatism.  If the framers of the American constitution got one thing right it was that governance should include a mechanism for keeping the passions of the electorate in check.

Squelching populism is necessary ….

To proceed with the squelching of populism and the promotion of republicanism, you will have to get rid of the notion of the strong, independent executive. The existence of a strong, independent executive indicates that there is a significant majority whose popular vote propelled that executive into office.  Keeping a strong, independent executive in check is the goal of a citizenry seeking to maximize its liberty to trade and use its private capital as it pleases.  Eradicating populism protects the individual from this clear and present danger to her liberty.

I should add that this argument is not about protecting the rich from a future Elizabeth Warren-type presidency.  This protection extends to people like me who are not affluent or well connected.  We, too, have liberties that we do not wish to be trampled upon, including the freedom to be left alone.

This brings me to a second approach to squelching populism: destroying the notion that government is designed to protect you.  Social programs for and income transfers to the poor are not about protecting the less fortunate.  Social programs and income transfers are more about buying votes and keeping the barbarians from knocking down the gates.  A strong, independent executive can use such programs to engender fealty, creating a standing army of passion-driven, unenlightened majorities willing to do their part in the executive’s suppression of the minority’s liberties.

People are, for a government, a resource to be managed, not a ruling force to be submitted to.  The executive should not be bolstered or subjugated by the masses.  This check on the executive should come from the state and national legislatures, bodies that are directly elected by the masses and who, because of their proximity to and familiarity with the people’s unique needs, are best suited for addressing the “distractions” the masses could cause the executive.

Democratic Party hypocrisy …

The Democratic Party feigns anger at Donald Trump’s victory in November 2016.  They have to in order to validate their supporters belief that the political system was supposed to serve their perceptions of fairness.  In actuality, the Democratic Party had no choice but to accept the outcome of the November 2016 election because the outcome showed that the majority of the populace will not be able to create mandates that handcuff a Democratic victor in the future.

Mr. Trump’s share of the popular vote in 2016 and his current job approval rating demonstrates that for all his “going public” efforts and his blustery personality, he is still handcuffed; he is not an independent executive.  The republican form of government still allows the Democratic Party to keep the President in their political cross-hairs by signaling that the President does not have majority support acting as a moat that protects him.  The republican form of government should also give the Democratic Party some hope that if they ran a candidate with the right campaign game plan, that they could manipulate the Electoral College for a victorious outcome.

Observation: Democratic voters want a tyrant ….

The Democratic Party’s supporters, however, want a tyrant. The rank and file voter supports the populist agenda, thus would support a strong, independent leader spawned by populism.  The emotionalism of the average Democratic voter gives me pause because it tells me that this voter has not fully thought through what they are asking for from a populist leader.  A populist leader, as I discussed before, will keep the goody bag filled in order to maintain that support.  It is what they ask for in return for their political packages is what concerns me.

 

Diversity is a fraud.

As a black person I have grown increasingly suspect over the years of calls for diversity. It is not that I have succumbed to another race’s false sense of superiority over mine. It is because diversity is really nothing but an expression of weakness by blacks in America. It is a rallying cry for inclusion of those blacks who consider themselves the cream of the crop and deserving to be placed ahead of other blacks due to their education and their networks. Diversity is a willingness to shun the need to generate and contribute real economic value settling instead for creating arguments that have at their base the need to make white people feel guilty. Diversity is a feel good political package sold to black voters who stand as much of a chance of breaking glass ceilings as the Atlanta Falcons have at playing in the Super Bowl in next year.

As an expression of weakness, calls for diversity are calls for permission to enter a house you are otherwise unwelcome in. We’ve heard the arguments. “Inclusion is the right thing to do.” “Dr. King died because he believed we are all equal in character.” ” It is immoral to exclude people, etc. etc.” It really boils down to begging to be included, basing arguments on weak moral grounds that can fade away when tough economic times appear and animal spirits rise up to battle for scarce capital and jobs.

Diversity benefits only those who come from a certain pedigree. In the real world, diversity doesn’t get most blacks a full time job with benefits. What gets people work in the real world are skill sets that bring value to an employer’s efforts at output and a network that through his new employee an employer can tap into. This is especially important in an information driven economy where workers are no longer “nodes for manufacturing”, where the emphasis is on an employee’s manufacturing skills, but instead is a “node of information”, where the employee uses technology to gather data that helps his employer make the best resource allocations.

The flip side to this argument is that blacks may not be in the position to be “information nodes” given centuries of being locked out of certain networks. My answer is, tough. After being in North America for 400 years and 153 of those years post slavery, Black Americans have had opportune time to accumulate the educational and work experience to access information, garner the appropriate skills, and build valuable networks. Instead of diversifying ourselves into a system dominated by a racial majority and created for a racial majority, blacks need to offset the negative repercussions of the current system by supplementing the current system with a dose of increased self-reliance.

Earlier I described diversity as a feel good political package designed by a political party dominated by white people and sold by an educated small black elite to the masses of black voters. It is a weak package that is comprised of slight modifications to existing civil rights and labor laws with no meaningful transfer of capital involved. It is empty with the only blacks getting paid being the fraternity and sorority boys and girls who have some mid-level office driving cars that they look good in. Diversity has not translated into a political economy that takes us to a higher form of human engagement, one where the basic needs of all are truly provided for.

Diversity is a fraud.

Republics are to keep the masses at bay, not to include them…

The purpose of governance …

The purpose of taking over government is to control its spoils.  The tricky part is to keep the barbarians from knocking down the gates, an act that may result from the perception that those who have captured government will not allocate an equitable portion of goods, resources, and capital i.e the spoils, to the masses.

The governing class in a republican form of government must then find a way to maximize the prestige and power it garners from taking over government while minimizing the amount of public capital allocated to appeasing the people it rules.  Resources are finite and the governing class can’t afford to have the instrument used for the day-to-day management of the citizenry and the channeling of power and prestige to the governing few to go bankrupt.

The issue then, for those who wish to take over government, is which approach to governance will bring about maximum prestige and power at the lowest cost of paying off the barbarian.  I recommend a political market approach based on transparency.

The market approach of American democracy …

American political governance is limited by the vote buying/selling transactions of the political market.  To garner the right to govern as an elected official, you have to win the vote.  What the candidate is willing to pay for this vote depends on her view of government’s role and her ability to convince the electorate to align its perception with her view.  She will not be transparent about her personal gains from winning office, preferring to tout the benefits that she can help shuttle to Americans as her rationale for running.  She will make the mistake of painting herself as selfless or altruistic.

All market transactions, including political market transactions, are two-sided. The voter/consumer seeks some type of economic relief via a government program, or some cultural win via a statute or regulation, and the elected official is willing to sell her a program in exchange for support in the form of donations, campaign volunteer time, or a vote.  All political parties participate in these transactions.  The voter/consumer must remain aware that these offerings are not being done for altruistic reasons.  They are being done out of the elected official/producer’s self-interest in garnering the power and prestige that comes with elected office.

The benefits of elected official/producer transparency …

When sitting across from the person you are negotiating with, you want as much transparency as possible as to their interests.  Knowing the real value they place on an item they intend to buy from or sell to you helps you to better price your offer.  As an elected official/producer, being transparent with the voter/consumer has three immediate benefits.

First, if the candidate for an office is upfront about their self-interest in running, they can avoid or mitigate the consequences that come from a lack of clarity.  The voter cannot come back and claim that the then candidate now elected official was anything but honest, a virtue many Americans claim to adhere to.

Second, if the candidate is transparent as to their self-interest, she creates a channel within which she can gauge the reasonableness of the voter’s demands.  In other words, the voter has a better understanding of the value of his vote for the candidate and can adjust his demands accordingly.  There will be fewer surprises as to the cost the candidate has to pay in order to secure a continuous flow of power and prestige.  She has a better idea not only of the voter costs for garnering her power and prestige, but can now explore a wider array of options for meeting voter needs at the lowest costs possible.

Another benefit of transparency is that by establishing up front her desire to garner and maximize power and prestige, the candidate will be viewed as transparent going forward during other transactions.  This creation of “good will” can only create for the elected official more opportunities to increase the political capital necessary for deploying the cost effective programs that she can exchange in the future for more votes.

It won’t be the programs that keep the barbarians from knocking down the gates.  It will be the transparency and the perception of honesty that flows that will keep the masses at bay.

Conclusion: Republicans can be transparent without being ogres….

Strength flows from transparency.  Republicans should not be afraid to tell the electorate, “I seek the power and prestige of the office because of the benefits (emotional, psychological, financial) that will flow to me, but I acknowledge those benefits won’t flow to me unless I meet your needs.”

America is a republic and as such, its political power is held by the people and its elected representatives.  What the definition does not tell you is that both groups do not, cannot, and should not rule equally.  What too many choose to describe as “American democracy” is a system that is not based on mass rule, but based purposefully on minority rule.  Because American democracy is in fact based on minority rule (one only need look at the discarding of the popular vote after the November 2016 general election), Republicans especially should take the lead in transparency in governing.  Transparency has a chilling effect on political tension and can only serve to secure Republican political power going forward.

 

Representative democracy has failed black people in America

The growth of political capitalists …

Representation means nothing if the spoils of society are not being delivered for each vote provided by citizens.  Black voters in particular are interested in optimal physical safety, a need stemming from violence perpetrated on them during the Jim Crow era; optimal access to capital, without which economic security is near impossible or very difficult; and the right to exist as a unique and thriving culture.

What I see being exchanged for each vote delivered by black citizens is the acquisition of a title by one or two elected representatives.  Representative democracy has created political capitalism, where owners of the political factors of political output are not creating political outcomes that address protecting uniqueness of black society, optimal black economic security, or optimal protection from violence.  Government, rather, is a feeding trough for black political representatives, with the number of voters they can persuade to vote for their party serving as the tickets for admission to the political feeding spots.

Government as a club you swing, not a club you join …

Blacks should not look at government as a club to send their smoothest talking salesman to.  Rather, blacks should look at government as a club that can be swung in order to generate capital access, physical security, and economic empowerment.  The outcomes should be a result of pressure politics.  This means that black political leadership should not be found embedded in the political machinery.  Black political leadership should be manipulating the political machinery from the outside.

Blacks in America need only go back to 1954 when the U.S. Supreme Court, in Brown v. Board of Education, vacated the ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson, holding that segregated educational facilities were unconstitutional.  This major landmark civil rights action did not flow from the efforts of black members of Congress.  There were hardly any.  This ruling was the result of blacks taking alternative action in the courts, an approach that was focused and targeted on, in my opinion, the most important branch of government.  It is here where the social and public policy goals of law are interpreted and in some cases, where current social policy is brought to light and used to overturn precedent.

Creative chaos versus status quo ….

When black representatives allow themselves to be embedded in the current electoral structure, their priorities shift to satisfying congressional leadership and mining votes for their national parties.  These activities serve the interests of a majority white congressional leadership versus the black constituents black representatives are supposed to be advocating for.  Take for example U.S. Representative Al Green’s attempt to bring forward articles of impeachment against President Donald J. Trump.  The articles were blocked by the House with Mr. Green, Democrat of Texas, not being able to bring the majority of his own party on board with the proposal.

Mr. Green’s actions were in keeping with the status quo of congressional politics.  But did his actions result in any benefits for black constituents?  Did they lead to an increase in physical or economic security?  Did they lead to increased influence of blacks in the national Democratic Party?

What is likely is that Mr. Green lost political capital and as a political capitalist he must realize that a decreased ability to bring voters with him to the trough means lessened prestige in the Congress.  The other issue he has to face is how his constituents will deal with the knowledge that their congressman has wasted scarce political capital on a go nowhere initiative all because being embedded in the machinery creates the obligation of delivering outcomes that don’t serve them.

Conclusion: Representative democracy is failing blacks …

Representative democracy has failed black people in America.  The representatives from the black community in Washington have been converted into agents for their respective party’s leadership, securing the votes needed so that they can pull up a chair at the trough.  Just like social media has turned subscribers to social networks into resource and product for advertisers, the electoral system has turned black voters into lumps of coal with black congressmen acting as the conveyor belt carrying the coal to the primaries and the national elections.

The question is, what is the alternative approach?