While the rift between establishment and left factions of the Democratic Party continues, a Kamala Harris-Bernie Sanders ticket could be what unites them.
After two articles about Sen. Harris (D-California) and her potential 2020 presidential campaign went viral this week, it’s clear that the Democratic Party’s donor class and base of DC insiders favor the junior senator from California to be their pick to run against President Donald Trump in three years. However, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) recently said he’s “not taking [a 2020 run] off the table,” which would all but certainly set the party up for another divisive primary process in 2019 and 2020.
The fact that Sen. Harris already has alumni from the Barack Obama administration and some of 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s top donors in her corner means that she would likely have an early edge on superdelegates — the controversial establishment politicians and party officials that make up a significant portion of total delegates voting at the Democratic National Convention. As The Hill reported last week, Sen. Harris recently raised more than $600,000 for Senate Democrats, and more than a quarter million from a MoveOn email pitch.
However, Sen. Sanders is no slouch, as the Vermont senator was able to win 23 primaries and caucuses and raise more money than fundraising titan Hillary Clinton in both March and April of 2016. Sanders also drew enormous crowds during the Democratic primary, filling stadiums in cities like Los Angeles, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Portland, Phoenix, Seattle, Madison, Wisconsin, Boston, and other cities and towns across the country in both red and blue states.
Sanders continues to bring out large crowds in red states as he fights President Trump’s healthcare proposal, drawing out thousands of people in Louisville, Kentucky and Morgantown, West Virginia. And despite losing the Democratic primary to Hillary Clinton, Sanders remains the most popular active politician in America regardless of party, with 57 percent of Americans viewing him favorably, according to a Harvard-Harris poll from April. And despite the tired “Berniebro” trope still being trotted out by his detractors to describe his base, Sen. Sanders is most popular among women (58 percent), African Americans (73 percent) and Hispanics (68 percent).
But unlike 2016, the 2020 Democratic primary doesn’t have to be a conflict between a neoliberal centrist and a Democratic socialist. Both Senators Harris and Sanders could likely come together on a number of progressive policy proposals, as Sen. Harris appears warm to ideas Sanders ran on last year, like tuition-free college at public universities and universal healthcare. And as the Los Angeles Time reported, Harris, as Attorney General of California, was able to secure a $1.1 billion judgment against Corinthian Colleges for defrauding students — something that should please Sanders’ devout army of indebted student borrowers.
The Democratic Party does indeed need younger, fresher faces, and the fact remains that Harris could potentially make history by being the first black woman to be nominated by a major political party. But Sanders’ enormous popularity among young people and minorities can’t be understated. If the 2020 Democratic primary comes down to either Kamala Harris or Bernie Sanders, the winner choosing their competitor as their running mate would mean that Democrats would have a united front against Trump, who could fracture the Republican Party if he continues his habit of tweeting veiled threats at members of his own party. And if the Democrats are united, Donald Trump may very well be a one-term president.
Jordan Shaw is a New Jersey-based writer and commentator specializing in national and state government issues for Grit Post. When he’s not writing, you can find him volunteering in Camden, New Jersey, or hiking the Wissahickon Valley Park.