Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Citizens Agenda

Photo by Reuters via The Atlantic.

Jay Rosen has been pushing the concept of a "citizens agenda" in political campaign coverage, meant to ground the coverage in the discussion of what voters want to hear the candidates talking about:
It revolves around the power of a single question: “What do you want the candidates to be discussing as they compete for votes?” From good answers to that everything else in the model flows.
Judging from this interview of Senator Kamala Harris, who has just published a book and may or may not be a presidential candidate in 2020, by Rachel Martin on NPR, it's going to be a long, hard couple of years for the citizens agenda.

Questions on the political purpose of writing the book:

People like you write books like this mostly when they are getting ready to launch a campaign — it's a "get to know me on a national level."

Questions on material in the book, relating to her parents:

Much of the book is framed around your mother. How does introducing her to your readers help them understand you?

Many people will not know that your mom was an immigrant from India. Why did she come to the U.S.?

As you mentioned, they were both activists — met during the civil rights movement. In light of that, did you ever consider representing marginalized people as a defender? Why did you decide to be a prosecutor?

Why did they not expect that from you?

Questions on the Senator's policy views, framed in terms of "Why did you contradict yourself?"

You have been criticized by some on the left over the death penalty, for defending the death penalty. How to you explain your position?

Her position is opposing the death penalty.

But you still think there's a place for it.

No, she doesn't. She defended the constitutionality of California's law in a 2014 federal case; she explains that this was her job as attorney general, which is true, though some have noted that state attorneys general don't always defend laws. On the other hand it's a fairly new thing, invented, in fact, by Jerry Brown when he was California attorney general in 2008 and refused to defend a same-sex marriage ban. No convict has been executed in California since Arnold Schwarzenegger was governor, in 2006, and she never sought the death penalty in her work as a prosecutor.

Questions relating to her performance in the Senate but about how she feels:

Going back to the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, do you regret how that unfolded for her [Christine Blasey Ford]?

("Going back" may refer to bits of the interview that have been edited out.)

Questions about presidential campaigns, of which she has not announced that she is mounting one:

Big picture question: Why do you think Donald Trump won?

You mention in your book about your relationship with a former attorney general of Delaware, Beau Biden, who passed away a few years ago of cancer. You call him an incredible friend. Do you think his father, Joe Biden, would make a good president?

I started with an assumption [that she's launching a political campaign] about why you wrote this book, but I'm going to end by just asking you, what did you want to communicate?

Do you think your mom would want you to run for president?

And that's it.

No comments:

Post a Comment