Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (L) and U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) (R) acknowledge the crowd during a campaign event at Ernst Community Cultural Center at Northern Virginia Community College July 14, 2016 in Annandale, Virginia.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Saturday, July 23, 2016, 11:01 AM
I’m going to shoot straight here about Tim Kaine.
He’s not the conservative boogeyman that some of my progressive friends are making him out to be and he’s not the progressive superhero that some Clinton supporters are painting him as. He’s somewhere in the middle. I believe him to be a sincerely good man. He’s honest, reliable and loyal. I have a few real, substantive problems with Clinton choosing him as her running mate, but I get the pick.
You probably don’t need me to tell you that Kaine was a civil rights attorney who fought housing discrimination for years or that in Virginia he has consistently been portrayed by conservatives and even some right-leaning Democrats as a liberal. I’ve always liked Tim Kaine. I loved that he came from a working class family and spent a year of his young life in Honduras. As someone who has lived abroad, I can vouch for how much it impacts your worldview.
I loved that out of Harvard Law he didn’t go the corporate route. I like how he served the city of Richmond as a city councilman and then as mayor. This local experience is rich. In those positions, you grow to truly understand the problems of everyday people. Richmond is a predominantly black city and Kaine’s life and career there was never in a bubble of white privilege.
His wife, Anne, is the Secretary of Education in Virginia and is a brilliant woman. When she was a child and schools in Virginia were desegregated by court order, she and her siblings attended predominantly black public schools — a rare move for a privileged white child that truly meant something back then. Her father was the Governor of Virginia and could have had his kids attend anywhere he wanted. I say that not because the move made her special, but because it again speaks to her worldview as someone who did not live her entire life in isolation from people of color.
In 2007, Kaine, then the Governor of Virginia, endorsed Obama way before it was the “in” thing to do. I was Obama-crazy back then and Kaine’s endorsement ingratiated me and many others to him. Before that he served as Lieutenant Governor. Kaine has called himself “boring” in recent interviews, but the man has never lost an election in his life. People in Virginia have loved and trusted him for decades.
Clinton has said that she wanted to pick a Vice President who could serve as President on day one. I’m no Hillary apologist or fan, but I believe that’s exactly what she did with the pick of Kaine. Having served as a civil rights attorney, a city councilman, a mayor, lieutenant governor, governor and U.S. Senator – you’d be hard pressed to argue that Kaine isn’t qualified to serve as President of the United States. The man’s qualified.
U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez speaks at the 84th annual Winter Meeting of The United States Conference of Mayors in Washington, DC, on January 21, 2016.
(NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Now, with all of that said, I was hoping that Clinton would pick a genuine progressive or a person of color. A progressive person of color would’ve been amazing, but I hoped she’d at least check off one of those two boxes. She did neither and I do find it rather insulting and aloof of her campaign. More young people voted for Bernie Sanders than Hillary and Trump combined. Bernie won 20 states and his progressive message and platform resonated all over the country. We keep hearing that being Vice President is largely ceremonial. If so, it wouldn’t have hurt Hillary to use the position as an opportunity to pick someone other than a moderate white man.
In a dream world, I would have loved to see her consider Nina Turner, the former Ohio state senator from Cleveland, a black woman, who became a national star as a surrogate for Bernie Sanders. Maybe that’s wishful thinking, but it would’ve meant everything to Bernie’s supporters who are either holding their nose in support of Hillary or even considering not voting for her at all.
If not Turner, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren would’ve been a strong progressive choice. Even Sherrod Brown, the U.S. Senator from Ohio and champion of many progressive causes, would’ve been a strong homage to progressives.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., gestures at the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy 2016 National Convention, Thursday, June 9, 2016, in Washington.
If not Turner, Warren, or Brown it would’ve been amazing to see her select Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez. I’m a huge fan of Perez. He was the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the Justice Department. For many years before that he served as a civil rights prosecutor in the Justice Department and demonstrated that he truly understands just how real racism and discrimination are in America. He would’ve been a perfect candidate for a time like this. He would’ve been the first ever Latino Vice Presidential nominee, but beyond that, his skills with labor and civil rights were so timely.
Even Cory Booker and Julian Castro would’ve been strong picks.
Instead, we have Tim Kaine. Yes, he’s a good man with a ton of experience, but I am troubled by his “F” rating with the marijuana advocacy group, NORML. The criminalization of drugs like marijuana have put hundreds of thousands of people, particularly black men, behind bars. I am troubled by his open endorsement of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Hillary herself has flip-flopped on it, but Kaine has been all for it. I am troubled by his call this week to deregulate and go easy on banks by removing consumer important consumer protections. These are things that Turner, Warren, Brown, or Perez wouldn’t have supported or called for.
But here we are. If anything, Hillary’s selection of Tim Kaine, coupled with all of the ugly email leaks coming from the DNC, suggests that the Democratic Party is not really a welcome home for progressives. We’re trying to put a square peg in a round hole. We don’t fit in with this party and our deepest priorities just aren’t being taken seriously.