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Netroots Nation Activists Want Warren and Harris

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One attendee, who requested anonymity because her views don’t reflect those of her employer, told me that while Warren is her first choice, the debate demonstrated that Harris has a certain “star quality” to her. “African American women are the base for Democratic politics,” she said, “and I think she knows how to communicate with them.”

Quentin Savwoir, a 33-year-old organizer living in Las Vegas who also supports Harris as one of his top two candidates, told me he was raised by a single mother and has only sisters. “I trust black women—I will follow them over a cliff,” he said.

Some Warren supporters I spoke with suggested that Harris might make for a more practical choice in the general election. “Warren is my heart, Harris is my head,” 33-year-old Jered Weber from Denver, Colorado, told me. “Harris has more potential to tack more to the center when she needs to, and I think she might be more electable.”

Many of the folks who voiced support for Harris also acknowledged the former state attorney general’s complicated and contentious record on criminal-justice issues. Some of her work “has really alienated a lot of the black community,” said Morgan Fletcher, a young gender-equity advocate in New York City, who said she’s eager to see how Harris addresses her record in future debates. Others, though, want to cut Harris some slack. “I have so many arguments with friends who are like, She’s a cop!” Savwoir told me. “She has had to participate in an oppressive system that she didn’t build, and we can’t expect her to tear it down.”

A handful of attendees told me that they want both women on the same ticket, with Warren at the top. A Harris vice presidency in particular would be a win for “reflective democracy,” said one leader of a progressive organization, who requested anonymity in order to speak candidly. “She’s not a progressive-movement person yet, but eight years of being with Warren in the White House would show her how.”

Not all the Netroots attendees I spoke with were crazy about a Warren-Harris combination. I met a couple of Buttigieg stans, one fedora-clad Jay Inslee fan, and a few people who said they were keeping their options open. Notably, though, there was no love at all for Biden, the Democratic frontrunner. Asking the progressive attendees what they thought of the former vice president resulted in nearly the same reaction every time: a deep breath, then a pained sigh. They’re not mad at him for running. They’re just disappointed. “Biden should have ridden into the sunset, Obama on the horse next to him,” said Lynne Brown, a retiree and local Philly activist, with a sad sort of chuckle. (There was even a panel called “Why Joe Biden Is the Least Electable Major Democrat for President in 2020.”)

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