Potential Democratic presidential candidates in 2020

In the Democratic Party, there are currently three people of color that are being hyped as potential contenders as presidential candidates in 2020: Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, and Neera Tanden. Those members of the party who supported Bernie Sanders are apparently opposed to those candidates, claiming that they are not actually left-wing politicians. The mainstream of the party (and of the media) claims that the opposition is in fact racist. 538 in a recent podcast claimed that those politicians were indeed of the left.

To figure this out, I did a Google search for the political positions of those politicians, trying to get the most information possible.

So let’s check this out. The easiest case is Booker, for whom a Wikipedia page “Political positions of Cory Booker” exists (my highlights):

Booker supports smart spending and investment now with long-term deficit reduction efforts to ensure economic prosperity.

He voted for the USA Freedom Act, which re-authorized certain provisions of the Patriot Act in modified form.

Booker believes climate change is man-made and supports cap-and-trade or carbon tax approach in dealing with greenhouse gas emissions.

He is an advocate of education reform and privatization of education; supporting things such as charter schools, school vouchers, and merit pay for teachers.

Booker has routinely defended the right of law-abiding citizens to own legal fire arms and blames most shootings on criminals with illegal guns.

Booker supports raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10.

Booker championed “enterprise zones,” a free-market approach to solving urban blight credited to the late Jack Kemp, a hard-core supply-sider and occasional Republican presidential contender who helped raise money for Booker’s first mayoral campaign.”

Besides social media advances, Booker wants to see the rest of the tech sector reach its fullest potential, and to do that, he thinks the U.S. government needs to ease up on regulations.

As mayor of Newark, New Jersey, Booker raised taxes by 20 percent but now seeks to cut municipal taxes.

This is a obviously a selection but it shows a number of positions that are directly opposed to left-wing politics, and there’s nothing left-wing in the rest.

Next, Harris, for whom such a page does not exist but whose Wikipedia entry discusses her work as Attroney General of California:

In April 2004, San Francisco Police Department Officer Isaac Espinoza was shot and killed in the line of duty. Three days later D.A. Harris announced she would not seek the death penalty, infuriating the San Francisco Police Officers Association.

During Officer Espinoza’s funeral at St. Mary’s Cathedral U.S. Senator and former San Francisco mayor Dianne Feinstein rose to the pulpit and called on Harris, who was sitting in the front pew, to secure the death penalty, prompting a standing ovation from the 2,000 uniformed police officers in attendance. Harris still refused.

As D.A., Harris started a program that gives first-time drug dealers the chance to earn a high school diploma and find employment. Over eight years the program produced fewer than 300 graduates, but achieved a very low recidivism rate.

While Harris was the San Francisco District Attorney, the overall felony conviction rate rose from 52% in 2003 to 67% in 2006, the highest in a decade; there was an 85% conviction rate for homicides, and convictions of drug dealers increased from 56% in 2003 to 74% in 2006.

However, critics argue that San Francisco sends fewer people to jail per arrest than other counties throughout the state. The San Francisco DA’s incarceration rates were among the lowest in the entire state of California—fully ten times lower than in San Diego County, for example.
Harris participated in the National Mortgage Settlement against five banks: Ally Financial, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Citibank, and Chase. She originally walked off the talks because she believed the deal was too lenient. She later rejoined the talks, securing $12 billion of debt reduction for the state’s homeowners and $26 billion overall. Other parts of the funding would go to state housing counseling services and legal help for struggling homeowners and forgiving the debt of over 23,000 homeowners who agreed to sell their homes for less than the mortgage loan.

After the United States Supreme Court in Brown v. Plata (2011) declared California’s prisons so overcrowded they inflicted cruel and unusual punishment, Harris fought federal court supervision, explaining “I have a client, and I don’t get to choose my client.”

Harris refused to take any position on criminal sentencing-reform initiatives California Proposition 36, 2012 and California Proposition 47 (2014), arguing it would be improper because her office prepares the ballot booklets. Former California Attorney General John Van de Kamp considered her explanation “baloney.”

On August 24, 2012, the Los Angeles Times published an editorial calling on Harris to release Daniel Larsen from prison. Larsen, who was sentenced to 28 years to life under California’s three strikes laws for possession of a concealed weapon in 1999, was declared “actually innocent” by a federal judge in 2009 and ordered released.

Larsen remained in prison because Harris’s office objected to his release on the grounds that he missed the deadline to file his writ of habeas corpus.

In February 2014, Michelle-Lael Norsworthy, a transsexual woman incarcerated at California’s Mule Creek State Prison, filed a federal lawsuit based on the state’s failure to provide her with what she argued was medically necessary sex reassignment surgery (SRS). In April 2015, a federal judge ordered the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to provide Norsworthy with SRS, finding that prison officials had been “deliberately indifferent to her serious medical need.” California Attorney General Kamala Harris, representing CDCR, challenged the order in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that Norsworthy’s surgery was unnecessary.

She’s a slightly more difficult case. I’m European, and as a European, she’s not a leftist: her only attempt on economic justice is heavily tilted towards property. Overall, she mainly seems to be a politician, taking positions that get her support. She vacillated strongly between being lenient and strict in sentences, depending who her “client” was.

Finally, Tanden. The troubling thing about her is that it is not even possible to find a page that summarizes her political positions. There’s one thing we do know, though: she was the head of the Center for American Progress. So let’s look at the Center, shall we?

The first president and CEO was John Podesta, who has served as White House Chief of Staff to U.S. President Bill Clinton and as the chairman of the 2016 presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton.

That would be the same Podesta whose leaked e-mails showed a strong effort to prevent a Sanders-candidacy.

Generally, the Wikipedia entry is surprisingly sparse but what it does have is funding information:

In 2014, CAP received

$45 million from a variety of sources, including individuals, foundations, labor unions, and corporations. From 2003 to 2007, CAP received about

$15 million in grants from 58 foundations. Major individual donors include George Soros, Peter Lewis, Steve Bing, and Herb and Marion Sandler. The Center receives undisclosed sums from corporate donors. In December 2013, the organization released a list of its corporate donors, which include Walmart, CitiGroup, Wells Fargo, defense contractor Northrop Grumman, America’s Health Insurance Plans, and Eli Lilly and Company.

There’s an old saying in US politics: “follow the money”, so let’s – Walmart, Wallstreet firms, Northrop Grumman, the health insurance industry? Doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence. As to the none-corporate donors:

2015 Donors (excluding anonymous) Level
Ford Foundation $1,000,000+
The Hutchins Family Foundation $1,000,000+
Sandler Foundation $1,000,000+
TomKat Charitable Trust $1,000,000+
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation $500,000 to

Joyce Foundation $500,000 to

Not On Our Watch $500,000 to

Open Square Charitable Gift Fund $500,000 to

Embassy of United Arab Emirates $500,000 to

Walton Family Foundation $500,000 to

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation $500,000 to


Gates foundation pushes for the privatization of education, Booker-style. As to the UAE, some highlights:

Flogging and stoning are legal punishments in the UAE.
The UAE has escaped the Arab Spring; however, more than 100 Emirati activists were jailed and tortured because they sought reforms. Since 2011, the UAE government has increasingly carried out forced disappearances.
In April 2009, a video tape of torture smuggled out of the UAE showed Sheikh Issa bin Zayed Al Nahyan torturing a man (Mohammed Shah Poor) with whips, electric cattle prods, wooden planks with protruding nails and running him over repeatedly with a car. In December 2009, Issa appeared in court and proclaimed his innocence. The trial ended on 10 January 2010, when Issa was cleared of the torture of Mohammed Shah Poor.

And the Walton’s, finally, are the owners of Walmart.

This is not the profile of an organization who pushes left-wing causes, so why would its director be a leftist?

All in all, if one were a Bernie-supporter and believed in left-wing causes, I understood why one would oppose those politicians. The best of the bunch seems to be Harris, who maybe can be pushed to the left. But given the depressing outcome of years of lesser-evilism, I understand anyone who doesn’t.

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