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    What’s Wrong with VP Harris?

    By Derek Barnes–

    I usually don’t write about politics or politicians in my column. However, I’ve been listening to and reading about the growing discontent some Democrats are having about the Biden administration’s performance—mainly growing opinions from detractors about Harris’ performance. So, I’ll pivot a bit to engage the framework of philanthropy (love of humankind) with a political twist.

    Instead of whipping readers up into a frenzy with the anticipation of delivering explanations, opinions, and theories relative to the perception of accomplishments and failures from the Biden-Harris administration, here’s the better question to ask: What’s wrong with our media that clearly has incentives to tear down Democratic leaders (pitting politicians against each other) and liberals/progressives who need to experience more fight, thrill, and excitement from their political leaders?

    Triggered by polls and news salvo, people are gazing into their mid-term and 2024 election crystal balls and already romanticizing about who they want to run on the Democrats’ presidential ticket. When I hear that VP Harris just isn’t electable (like I heard in 2020), I’m always shocked that people forget some basic facts. She’s won all of her city and state elections. She was a U.S. senator from California and brought 20M+ votes from state-wide wins. She was on a winning ticket that garnered 81M+ votes—the highest in U.S. history and that she helped secure.

    I recently read a piece by Reecie Colbert in TheGrio, and I was thrilled to learn how active VP Harris has been since the presidential inauguration. Since January 20, Harris has held over 100 meetings with President Biden, attended over 300 events where media was present, and was instrumental in passing the $1.2T infrastructure bill. After being dispatched by Biden to France in November for diplomatic discussions with France’s President Macron, the media claimed that the Vice President was essentially “invisible” and implied that she was missing in action. The reality is that media and her critics refused to acknowledge and often deny her engagement and successes, “relentlessly trying to harm her prospects.”

    The “invisible” Vice President is a narrative propagated by conservatives to instill the same old tropes about Black people who began to hold political office after the Civil War: incompetent, incapable of leadership, lazy, and shiftless. Did we forget about Pence, Cheney, Quail, Agnew, and that near-miss of a stellar Republican VP hopeful, Sarah Palin? Republicans shouldn’t be allowed to propagate this double standard, and Democrats shouldn’t fall so easily for the sleight of hand. Harris’ attacks occur because of her winning track record and competence, potentially threatening political leaders on both sides of the aisle.

    Even failed Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann came out of her forced political retirement on Fox News with recent comments about Harris that were just offensive and wildly inaccurate. To add insult to injury, Bachman then references Meghan Markle in an attempt to connect both women to a brand of entitlement and self-proclaimed victimization.

    Democrats should not allow Republicans and conservative media to run these offensive narratives. Moderate and progressive Democrats should be in the business of protecting their installed leaders with records of success and winning instead of aiding the opposition in their destruction—doing the other side’s dirty work. Being on constant defense with messaging is exhausting and is often a losing proposition.

    The Democratic Party also needs to be much more proactive and intentional with a unified voice to celebrate big wins and hit back with compelling messages and counter-narratives that are both repetitive and effective. The administration and Democratic Party desperately need a Chief Marketing Officer or whatever the political equivalent of that is in Washington.

    It’s not lost on many that, without the daily train wrecks of Trump and the previous administration, the media misses its dysfunctional golden boy. It guaranteed a steady stream of viewers and listeners—profiting from the dissension. That’s why mid-term and 2024 election conjecture, polling frenzy, inter-party feuds, and political in-fighting (real or manufactured) are so prevalent now and lucrative. Harris’ newsworthy headlines are just not sensational enough, nor does she provide the type of hyper-clickbait triggers and endorphin highs that audiences crave today.

    The critical message to Democrats is to recalibrate your expectations, stop finding fault, and focus on touting the wins and accomplishments of this historic pairing and your party. There’s still so much to do over the next three years. Personally, I want to see more progress in advancing voting rights, police reform, and public safety. Irrefutably over the last ten months, the administration has accomplished a great deal after inheriting a mess. It’s equally crucial for Democrats to come together to support the Biden-Harris administration and all their extraordinary accomplishments to date.

    Derek Barnes is the CEO of the East Bay Rental Housing Association (www.EBRHA.com ). He currently serves on the boards of Horizons Foundation and Homebridge CA. Follow him on Twitter @DerekBarnesSF or on Instagram at DerekBarnes.SF

    Published on December 2, 2021