Of the drastic, incendiary, and union-testing proclamations made in the Democratic primary contest, Senator Harris competed gamely with Senator Warren in displaying not just a disdain for our Constitution, but in what could be described as having a royal air. Senator Harris is unique among VP candidates in over a generation and a trailblazer for reasons we’re all now familiar with, specifically that she’s the first selected to replace a presidential hopeful no one actually imagines as able to govern for a full term. Harris is to serve as a top-down corrective to a Democratic primary process that didn’t result in candidates of the right skin color or gender being selected, and to govern for the candidate no one will wake for the 3 a.m. phone call.
Senator Warren, who we’re told Biden often turns to for policy guidance, vowed in the primary to prevent Americans from engaging in the private exchange of goods and services for their families in the vast healthcare industry, an idea so extreme it would rend the union. Harris upped the ante, however, vowing that she could effect – via ill-defined executive actions – the de facto end of the Second Amendment in a ban on AR-15 rifles or those in that style within her first 100 days of office. When challenged on the constitutionality of that idea, she responded with a serious discourse on the outer limits of executive branch authority in times of crisis. No, I’m kidding, she laughed.
As the U.S. embraces a rawer form of majoritarian government, essentially gifting to the executive branch powers previously reserved for the legislature, Kamala’s rejection of the separation of powers or of any conceivable limitation on state power will be not just relentlessly apparent, but relevant in all of our daily lives. What we have to fear in this country is not the rise of a Trumpian strongman, so fiercely resisted and parsed at every turn, but the strongman model Barack Obama pioneered and Kamala will inherit. A populist “Yes We Can-ism” that relies on raw cultural power to overcome nuanced arguments about the constitutionally appropriate application of state power. You’ll see Biden’s heir cheered by the New York Times and dancing on Ellen as we slide into autocracy.
As we stumble into crisis in the absence of anything but a landslide on November 3rd, it’s important to keep in mind that the draconian measures that a President Harris will announce will be accompanied by an openly supportive media telling us how pragmatic she is. One reason that Obama and his media symbiotes had to spend so much time insisting he was a pragmatist was due to the lack of available evidence of his pragmatism. Expect similarly well-coordinated top cover from the press, with Kamala’s first full term surpassing Obama’s second in its sheer disregard for constitutional limits on authority. And remember that, as the heir to the presidency after having received virtually no popular support during the primary, her authoritarian tendencies have already been rewarded.
As we saw in Wednesday’s DNC speeches, Obama and Kamala both remain, well, undeterred. Obama continually revealing himself for the divisive partisan he always was, refusing to concede his part in our polarization despite his continued breaking of both executive branch precedent while in office and his boorish behavior since. He festers in the capital actively defending a legacy popular will could not sustain. Whether for the Iran deal or the Paris accord or the unprecedented immigration actions, none of those prevented him from marshaling the administrative state where he could not convince the people. For her part, Kamala’s will to power shows in her deft introduction of the party’s real platform: institutional racism as the civic religion around which to restructure our entire society, and economic populism in the form of coastal elites providing gifts to the urban underclasses. This matters because it cannot succeed. It’s so divisive and elite-driven, so incapable of providing enduring gains to those most hurting that we’ll have the same populist revolt the Obama years begot. Four or eight years of ballooning budgets, DC largesse, and celebrities testifying in front of the Senate is tone deaf and won’t work. There is no Return to Normal in a country already $25 trillion in debt. Anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong.