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Unburdened by What Has Been: The Case for Kamala

We have one goal: defeat Trump. Like it or not, 
we have one realistic path: Kamala.

Why this Memo?

We are currently losing. We need to do something different to win.
The popular discourse is not a realistic reflection of our options.
We need a clear-eyed analysis of what is possible.
Like it or not, there’s one realistic path out of this mess: Kamala.

If Biden Steps Back, Kamala is the Only Realistic Option

As Biden’s twice-designated successor, Kamala is the only candidate who could be anointed before the convention with any democratic legitimacy.
The non-Kamala path: an extended period of chaos and bad headlines culminating in an untested candidate.

If Kamala is Our Nominee, She Can Win

Kamala’s political deficits are real but addressable.
Kamala’s strengths are real and growing.
Kamala has advantages with the younger/POC voters we’re bleeding.
Kamala can capably focus public attention on abortion, democracy, and MAGA extremism.
Kamala has been vetted and scrutinized; other candidates have not.
Kamala has an extra month and massive structural advantages.
Fear of racism/sexism is playing an outsized role not supported by the data.

The Kamala Scenario vs the Chaos Scenario

Narrative descriptions of these two scenarios
Post-Script: If Biden Stays the Course, We Need Kamala to Be Strong
Whether you want Biden to drop or not, we need to boost Kamala
What You Should Do With This
Push the administration to stop sidelining Kamala.
Promote Kamala as a leader of the party and the country.
Be prepared to align with political and financial support.
Debate over—and ultimately organize around—a new running mate.

Why This Memo?

We are currently losing. We need to do something different to win.

This memo is written with the premise that the number one most important priority above all others is defeating Donald Trump. There is nothing—nothing—more important. And we need to be very real that we are currently losing.

The debate was President Biden’s chance to disrupt the narrative that he’s too old and reset the terms of the race. This failed miserably. It validated years of rightwing attacks on Biden and made clear he is incapable of prosecuting the case. His debate performance, the campaign’s defensive response, and the total lack of plan to reassure his base and the voters about his capability should shake everyone’s confidence that he can win this election. Failure will have devastating results for our democracy.

We now have three possible options: President Biden can take the necessary steps to demonstrate that he’s up to the job, he can step aside for another candidate, or Trump will win.

The popular discourse is not a realistic reflection of our options.

The discourse about potential alternate candidates in the event Biden steps down is increasingly detached from reality. Donors, pundits, and Democratic elites are freely slinging around wild ideas about dream tickets. This chaos is used as a shield by “stay the course” advocates who frame the choice as Biden or chaos. The swirl over different possible candidates is obscuring the fact that there is a single, clear path forward.

There’s one path out of this mess, and it’s Kamala.

Kamala Harris has the strongest claim to democratic legitimacy. She is the only candidate who can take the reins right now, instead of in late August with less than three months left to go. She has significant and widely underplayed electoral advantages. She can win.

To be clear: this isn’t an argument about deservedness, or about why you personally should love Kamala. This is about strategy and winning in the face of unimaginable electoral stakes. The anti-Trump coalition cannot afford to discount the strengths of the nominated Democratic running mate and current vice president. She’s not the best option - she’s the only realistic option to win.  

Who is This For and Where Did it Come From?

This memo is intended for Democratic party stakeholders - activists, donors, elected, commentators, etc... - who are concerned about our current trajectory but unclear about what should happen or what to do. Ultimately only Joe Biden has the power to drop out and to choose to head off chaos by anointing Harris, but he listens to people, and they listen to people, and you might know those people. If so, and if you find this convincing, you should make this case.

The authors of this memo are senior operatives within Democratic political institutions that will not be taking a position regarding this crisis. We have no professional or personal ties to Harris. We simply want to defeat Trump. We are writing this in our personal capacities because we believe that we need to cut through the chaos, identify which options are realistic and which are fantasies, and advocate for the only real path forward. The stakes are too high to do anything else.

If Biden Steps Back, Kamala is the Only Realistic Option

If President Biden drops out, the choice is clear for Democrats. We can unite behind his elected successor immediately, or we can invite an extended period of chaos and an open battle for the top-of-the-ticket.

Kamala is the only candidate with any claim to democratic legitimacy.

It’s worth stating the obvious: Kamala Harris is the only potential successor who has been nominated and won as part of a national ticket. As Vice President she has spent the last four years one heartbeat from the Oval Office. Voters reaffirmed their support for Joe Biden in the 2024 primary knowing that Harris would be his successor in the event that he is unable to complete his duties. And while polls obviously have significant limitations given the name recognition disparities, she currently wins any poll of alternate Democratic candidates by a wide margin.

In an alternate timeline where Biden declined to run for reelection, an open primary would be welcome and appropriate. That is not the world we live in. Democratic voters in every state have already cast their primary ballots, and they voted for Joe Biden with the full knowledge that Kamala Harris is his running mate. Democratic voters who pulled the lever for Biden in the primary did not scrutinize the politics, identities, or affiliations of their Biden delegates, and they have in no meaningful way consented to delegates making a different choice. At this point in the nomination process, Kamala would be the closest thing we have to a democratic selection were President Biden to withdraw. A move to entrust that nomination not to those voters, but to convention delegates, would be enormously high-risk.

The non-Harris path: an extended period of chaos and bad headlines culminating in an untested, undemocratically selected candidate.
A brokered convention leading to the ideal “strongest” candidate is a popular fantasy right now. It’s crucial that all party stakeholders are clear-eyed about how disastrous this scenario would be.

Remember the context: Kamala is the democratically elected Vice President (in addition to being the first Black woman VP). She has served as a loyal governing partner, with zero hint of scandal or misbehavior. In a head-to-head matchup with Donald Trump, she polls comparably with every other candidate being contemplated. You do not have to love Harris to recognize that there is simply no viable public justification for casting her aside.

Choosing anyone other than the VP delays the selection of our nominee by two months, throws our campaign infrastructure into disarray, and ensures that media attention remains heavily focused on Democratic bickering over the divisions within our coalition instead of Donald Trump and his MAGA agenda. We would then head into a high-stakes, high-uncertainty convention, at which point we would skip over our democratically elected first Black woman VP for a (likely) white candidate who has no comparable national profile, no claim to democratic legitimacy, and has never been tested on the national stage. This candidate would then have less than three months to heal the party’s rifts, somehow mend ties with Black voters, and stand up a full national campaign to beat Trump.

Well-meaning brokered convention supporters focus their argument on the strengths of other candidates, but they need to contend with the harsh reality of what would be necessary to win the nomination. This is a recipe for disaster.

If Kamala is Our Nominee, She Can Win

Kamala’s deficits are real but addressable.

Let’s not kid ourselves—the Vice President has real political weaknesses. Her approval rating is underwater, and has been since 2021. She’s been closely associated with some of the biggest political headaches of the administration, namely immigration. She’s had her fair share of gaffes. And after years of a relatively low public profile, voters don’t see her as a strong leader for the country. These are vulnerabilities that should not be taken lightly, but they also present clear opportunities for growth with the electorate.

It’s not unusual for Vice Presidents to be perceived as lacking in leadership - in fact, it’s almost inherent to the job, which requires operating in a subordinate role and taking care not to diverge from the administration line. Running as a Presidential candidate will allow Harris to present herself in a more commanding light. She’ll be a prosecutor going up against a convicted felon; a woman fighting against the man who ended Roe v. Wade. The headlines write themselves. Picking high-profile, strategic fights with the Trump campaign will both help define Trump and help define Harris as a leader and fighter.

Kamala’s strengths are real and can grow.

An extensive Morning Consult-Politico poll on the vice president from June reflects a number of advantages she would have over Trump in a head-to-head match up based on his greatest vulnerabilities:

The swirl over Kamala’s approval ratings has largely ignored the fact that public opinion is already moving towards Harris over Biden. In a recent post-debate poll from Data for Progress, 43% of voters indicated Harris was fit to run the country compared to Biden’s 35%. Harris also outpolled Biden on “strength”—although both the president and vice president fall short of Trump’s numbers.

In their head-to-head match-ups against Trump, Biden and Harris both scored an identical 45% to Trump’s 48%, while every other prominent Democrat came in slightly below those numbers.

To read more....
Unburdened by What Has Been:          The Case for Kamala
Excepts of the Memo 
"The authors of this memo are senior operatives within Democratic political institutions that will not be taking a position regarding this crisis. We have no professional or personal ties to Harris. We simply want to defeat Trump. We are writing this in our personal capacities because we believe that we need to cut through the chaos, identify which options are realistic and which are fantasies, and advocate for the only real path forward. The stakes are too high to do anything else."

July 3, 2024
​The Vesey Republic: Editor's Note
Unburdened by What Has Been: The Case for Kamala is an anonymous memo by Democrat Party activists articulating a succession plan to position Vice-President Kamala Harris as the presidential nominee should Biden's anemic candidacy collapse.   

​Last week Biden's closest aides started gaming out scenarios to determine if Harris has a path to victory over Trump. The table-top exercise has been dubbed The Survey.    

​Although Unburdened and The Survey emanate from different quarters of the embattled Biden-Harris project, their strategic designs converge at the same destination: a grand bargain struck between Joe Biden and Black Democrat Party elites.   

​​In exchange for Black Democrat Party leaders and Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members not publicly calling for Biden to step down, Fighting Joe will throw his political machine and campaign war chest behind Harris for president if he withdraws from the race. 

Frontline Black Democrat elites who have forged the blood oath with Biden include former president Barak Obama, Rep. James Cut the Deal Clyburn (SC), House Minority Leader Hakim Jeffries (NY), National Democrat Party Chair Jamie Harrison, and outgoing Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Rep. Steven Horsford (NV).

​As of Friday, 19 Democrat Congressional members have called for Biden to step aside. Twenty-four former Democrat lawmakers sent Biden a letter demanding that he release his delegates and allow an open convention.  Internal dissent within the Congressional Hispanic Caucus spilled out into the public domain after the group endorsed Biden. Congressman Raul Grijalva (TX) has openly called for Biden's exit from the race. 

Despite the growing wave of defections coursing through the Democrats' ranks, not one of the sixty Congressional Black Caucus members has called on Biden to bow out. ​Is that a coincidence? 

Are their district and state constituents that different from 72% of the voters CBS polled who believe Biden lacks the mental and cognitive faculties to serve as president? Or is the CBC's Vibranium Wall impervious to reality and Biden skeptics writ large? We think not.

​New Black Nationalists aren't critical of Black Democrat leaders for taking a unified position. We condemn their refusal to wield the power of Democrat's dominant Black voting bloc and control of the party's highest elective and organizational offices to persuade Biden not to seek reelection. 

Instead of having the chat with Biden after the 2022 midterm elections, elected Black Democrat elites lost their way.  

They conjured illusions that Biden was embraced as America's doting grandpa who nursed a proto-fascist traumatized public back to normalcy with his Irish storytelling and folksy ways. Black Democrat elites not only became Biden's uncritical enablers but his political supplicants

​New Black Nationalists asserted Biden's 2020 presidential win was a referendum rejecting Trump's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic that left unnecessary mass death and economic chaos in its wake.

We posited the Red Wave's failure to make landfall in the 2022 midterms was provoked by the massive backlash against the Supreme Court Dobbs decision in June. Women punished Republicans at the ballot box   

​Black Democrat leaders hailed Biden as the first president to defy the laws of political gravity by not getting hammered in the mid-term elections. 

​In doing so, they imperiled the Black Commons' future by saddling them with an arrogant deteriorating octogenarian who is now losing every major battleground state in the country.    

As the dominant voting bloc in the Democrat Party controlling the highest offices in Congress and the national party, Black Democrat elites are just as responsible as Biden for the current crisis. This stunning leadership failure marked by political cowardice and a lack of imagination could have never happened among Black civil rights leaders in the 1960's.  

Being typical politicians that refuse to take responsibility for their shortcomings, Black Democrat elites have now defensively circled the wagons around Kamala Harris. If Biden falls, they insist its Kamala or the destruction of the Democrat Party.    

Basil Smikle set the tone with this rant on MSNBC. 

"The reality is if you’re even going to have a conversation about who’s next. If Kamala Harris, the sitting vice president, is not the first and last name out of your mouth, then tell me how you’re going to get Black voters to engage when you change the rules to accommodate somebody other than her? "  

Instead of making a serious argument about why Harris is the best candidate, Smikle prattles on about those 'persons who would step over' a Black woman vice-president who is next in line. That sounds like a dare to us. 

Rather than provide analysis of how Harris would play in the battleground states, and how her vice-presidential pick can add value and votes to a national ticket, Smikle want to talk about convention rule changes that don't exist. 

But we get it. Gretchen Whitmer would carry Michigan. Josh Shapiro would carry Pennsylvania. What state does Kamala guarantee? Democrats will win California irrespective of who leads the national ticket.     

Smikle is cynically raising the specter of racial division and chaos at an open Chicago National Democrat Party convention.     

So, tell us who is the Democrat House Minority Leader? Who is the DNC Chairman? Who is the most popular Democrat in the country bar none? Is it not Michele Obama? And what about that fellow she pals around with? Is that not former President Barack Obama.  

Is Mr. Smikle suggesting Black Democrat leaders can't organize a team to run an orderly national convention? What's the issue? Are you afraid they can't handle misbehaving white Democrats or are you afraid Hispanic Democrats might want the Vice-Presidential nomination?

You do remember the Hispanic community, don't you Basil--the largest non-white demographic group in America. In the unlikely event that Trump picks Marco Rubio as his running mate, Arizona and Nevada would become very difficult to win. Since Trump values loyalty more than strategy, Rubio is not likely to be the vice-presidential selection.   

And while you are soliciting pearls of wisdom from heaven, please tell us how Kamala Harris can be 'stepped over.' The convention rules are clear: seated delegates are not bound to vote for anyone, including Biden if he is still in the race. If Biden steps down Kamala Harris can announce her candidacy and make her case. She already has the inside track.  

But that is not good enough. What Smikle seeks is a coronation and intimidating Democrats who want to support another presidential hopeful than Kamala Harris.  

These heavy-handed tactics like those Biden used during the Democrat primaries to clear the field of competitors is what will engender chaos, ill will, and disunity. It is not only wrong: it's boring. Genuine excitement and passionate debate aren't chaos nor a middle-school food fight. Let the people have their say and cast their ballots.      

Since the November mid-term elections, New Black Nationalists have been issuing statements and analyses arguing Joe Biden is a deeply flawed high-risk candidate whose campaign would collapse before the August 2024 Democrat National Convention.

In December 2022, we encouraged grassroots Black Democrats to launch a draft movement to identify a national ticket to replace Joe Biden. We said then that the CBC and Black Democrat operatives didn't have the spine for this fight. But they have been worse than we expected  
New Black Nationalists drafted Demographics is Destiny to present a roadmap to grassroots Black Democrats to capture 270 electoral college votes. We also developed a strategy for an alternative national ticket to win a brokered convention in Chicago. Increasingly, it looks like an open convention may be on the horizon.  

In deference to Vice-President Kamala Harris being on the ticket, we developed two alternative models with a white presidential candidate and a Hispanic vice-presidential candidate. The first model paired former Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan as the presidential nominee and Rep. Nanette Barragan (CA) who is the current Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus as the Vice-Presidential nominee.  

​Ryan was one of the few Democrats that called on Biden in August of 2022, not to seek the presidency in 2024. There isn't a white boy in America, who can throw on his Timberland boots, jeans, and an Ohio State sweatshirt and argue manufacturing and hi-tech jobs, trade, union, and immigration issues while downing a couple of Budweiser's at a suburban sports bar in like Tim Ryan. Catholic, half-Italian and half Irish,  It     

 When it was clear Ryan would not run after leaving the House in 2022, we developed a second model with Gretchen Whitmer as the presidential nominee and Xavier Becerra, the current Secretary of Health and Human Services as the vice-presidential nominee. 

The Demographics is Destiny strategy focused on winning Arizona and Nevada and the Midwest swing states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania by expanding the women's, Hispanic, and youth vote to offset a drop-off in the Black vote.  

Despite failing to develop a contingency plan two years ago for a Biden political collapse or disqualifying health event Black Democrat elites and grassroots activists Black Democrats still have a chance to stop Trump. In eighty days, mail-in ballots will start streaming into election centers. 

Since December 2022, NBN's predictive model hasn't changed: a Biden-Harris ticket cannot defeat Trump. Worse still, this ticket also creates the greatest risk of Republicans sweeping the Senate and possibly the House of Representatives. The only way Democrats could slow Trump's American Apartheid project is maintaining control of the House and the government's purse strings. 

Biden's halting performance at the June 27, debate More than the  That Biden age and di  

 Biden withdraws. The grand bargain between Biden and Black Democrat Party leaders is set in motion backing Kamala Harris to win a first ballot nomination at the convention. Biden should release his delegates but doesn't  as a unifying gesture. Either way, Harris wins a first ballot nomination.  

3. The convention spirals into a multi-ballot vote       

it more important that a Black is on the national ticket or that Black Democrat leaders maneuver the levers of statecraft to keep an authoritarian proto fascist out of the Oval Office?  

​Let there be no misunderstanding, New Black Nationalists, have no interest in saving the Democrat Party or America's neo-liberal imperial empire. Our responsibility is positioning the Black Commons to defend their communities when America's government collapses during a constitutional crisis, regime change attempts, civil war, secession movements, and political dissolution. In our view, those seemingly unthinkable days are close at hand.  

A Democrat victory in the 2024 elections, gives the Black Commons strategic breathing room to prepare political options to resist the imposition of American Apartheid on one hand, and reject Democrats' paternal corporately managed democracy on the other. 

What we want is exit and the creation of a Black nation-state.  

   The Burden of 'Kamala's Predicament' and Black Democrats Leadership Failure
Editor, W. Bernell Brooks 
24 former Dem lawmakers to Biden: Allow an open convention