Kamala Harris withdrawing from the Presidential race highlights one of the major problems with our political system.
As I read the news about Kamala Harris withdrawing from the presidential race, I was sad. Not because I was terribly invested in her as a candidate, but because her reason for withdrawing were so much bigger than that — she didn’t have enough money to hang with the other candidates.
I grew up with my parents telling me that I could be whatever I wanted when I grew up — even president. The idea didn’t seem all that far-fetched to me, after all, I was a product of a marriage mere years after the Loving v. Virginia decision allowed my parents to choose a life together. We hadn’t yet had a person of color or a woman in the Oval Office, but that didn’t seem to be a wholly untouchable goal. While I never aspired to public office (I wanted to be an astronaut), I believed in the tenets of democracy and that it really was available equitably for all.
As I approached my thirties, I celebrated the election of the first Black president and I befriended the mayor of my hometown, who was the youngest ever elected to the office. She was also the first female to hold the title and a mere three months younger than me.
Both of these events happened within the same year and for the first time in my life, I was being led by public servants who were just like me. “Liberty and justice for all,” no longer felt like an old white dude mantra.
To see Kamala Harris, a woman like me, drop out of the race because of a lack of ability to raise enough capital to compete is utterly devastating. What this says to the kids who dream of one day running our country is, “you may not be wealthy enough to be the change you wish to see.” That is just heartbreaking.
As this election cycle kicked off, I was disappointed in the Democratic Party for requiring fundraising minimums in order to appear on the debate stage. I understand that there is a need to thin the herd with the sheer number of candidates to select from, but they chose the wrong elimination metric.
Money should not be the driving factor behind who we choose to nominate to run for office. Ability, passion and appetite to serve the communities they represent should be what we care about most when culling our pool of nominees.
As the wealthy have continued to buy their way in to politics and further corrupt our democracy, the need to drive money out of politics becomes ever more clear.
Only when a candidate is selected not because of the depth of their pockets but by the depth of their passion to incite change in our country, democracy will have the ability to thrive once again. Until then, we are nothing but pawns in the game of Big Money.