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Kamala Harris’s announcement that she was dropping out of the race for the Presidency occasioned all manner of retrospective laments.  A large number of them — including one by Charles M. Blow at The New York Times — blamed her failure to gain traction in her campaign on (wait for it…) some combination of racism and misogyny.

A fair number of online commenters at The Times agreed with his assessment.

Somewhat to my surprise, however, a great many (and a great many who self-identified as ‘liberals’ whose hopes for her were high, then disappointed) did not; and they put some great effort into expounding on all the flaws of her career and her campaign that contributed to her early departure.

I had neither a great love nor a great hatred for Kamala Harris — I will admit I always (meaning from well before she ever officially declared her Presidential, or even her Senatorial, aspirations) thought she was over-rated (not to mention finding her policy platform generally disagreeable) but, then, that is true of a great many of the candidates running for President, including most of the white guys (Beto O’Rourke?  Really?) — so I have not paid much attention to her campaign and don’t have a strong opinion on what may or may not have doomed her chances.

But I do get tired of the seemingly compulsive need to blame everything bad that ever happens to some “marginalized” person on some “-ism” or other.  Yes, those “-isms” exist.  But so do normal human failings and random bad luck.  There is no particular reason to presume that a woman or a “person of color” is any more immune to those than the rest of us.

I wrote this as an e-mail to Mr. Blow.  I have received no reply.

6 December 2019

Ref: “What Kamala Harris’s Campaign Teaches Us“, (NYT, 12/4/2019)

Mr Blow:

We will know we have achieved true equality not when a woman or a person of color is allowed to succeed on their own merits, but when they are allowed to fail on their own merits — without the reflexive urge to blame their failure on racism or sexism or some other kind of malicious bias.


Update, 3/2/2023:  Mr. Blow used his NYT column today to make essentially the same point about Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot’s defeat in her campaign for re-election as he made about Kamala Harris’ failure to gain traction in her Presidential bid.  Racism!  Misogyny!  Couldn’t possibly be that she was both ineffective and abrasive…

I sent him the same e-mail again…

© Copyright 2019, Augustus P. Lowell

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