Kamala Harris confronted her harshest critic, now he’s her biggest fan

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Christobel Hastings
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Kamala Harris

What happens when a rap legend questions your presidential priorities? You call them up, explain your policies, and completely win them over, as Senator Kamala Harris proved with her conversation with Luther “Luke” Campbell.

How well do you deal with criticism? Do you politely take it on the chin? Seethe silently but say nothing? Or, do you solemnly swear vengeance on your nemesis forevermore?

Prior to the 2016 election, we were used to politicians debating their differences via the lectern, issuing statements and giving interviews to the press by way of time-honoured tradition. But in the era of Donald Trump, the preferred method of responding to your critics is an inflammatory Twitter rant, where everyone from world leaders to pop stars can be subject to a savage attack in 140 characters.

A political future free of Twitter feuds could be on the horizon, though, if Kamala Harris has anything to do with it. Because the California senator has a simple and effective way of dealing with conflict: picking up the phone.

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It hardly sounds radical, but according to rap legend Luther “Luke” Campbell, a once-vocal critic of Harris, it’s a tactic that persuaded him to do a 180 degree turn in favour of the politician.

The former 2 Live Crew frontman has been brutally critical of the Democratic hopeful in the past, and in a blistering takedown a few weeks ago, argued that Harris have trouble persuading black voters to make her president in 2020,” as well as questioning her marriage to a white man.

“Like everyone else, black voters want help from one of their own,” Campbell wrote. “The Bushes made sure their people got oil money. Bill Clinton let the telecommunications industry gobble up small radio and TV stations. And Donald Trump is looking out for his developer buddies through a tax cut and opportunity zones that gentrify minority neighbourhoods. Meanwhile, Harris has let black people know they can’t count on her.”

Kamala Harris
Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris

But in a new column for the Miami New Times this week, Campbell revealed that his opinion of the California senator had completely changed after sharing an “unexpected phone conversation” with Harris. 

“After I spoke with her,” Campbell wrote, “Harris changed my mind. She is the only candidate who can scare Donald Trump in a head-to-head matchup. And by having a conversation with someone who trashed her publicly, Harris proves she can work with anybody to lead this country in a positive direction.”

Campbell detailed how he was originally concerned about Harris’ presidential priorities, and was sceptical about how she could fight for the African American community, given her track record as a prosecutor in a society where black men are disproportionately affected by the criminal justice system. 

So how exactly did his evolution come about? According to Campbell, everything changed after Harris called him for a one-to-one conversation, in which they discussed everything from gun control to rehabilitation programs. Harris was able to listen to Campbell’s concerns about her presidential bid and her background in law enforcement, and Campbell, in turn, was able to listen to Harris’ plans to create a reentry program in California to help offenders find work and education, as well as a proposal to help black voters start their own businesses. After hearing Harris out, the rapper was left in no doubt that she could “lead this country back to the top”.

Campbell finished by emphatically endorsing Harris as his top choice for the 2020 presidency, praising her universal appeal and commitment to the American people “regardless of race, skin colour, or sexual orientation.”

“Harris,” he continued, “can lead this country back to the top after Trump has fucked everything up. Black people still want to know if she is black enough. After speaking with her, I believe there’s no doubt.

“If she was willing to talk to me after I assailed her career, that tells me she can work with politicians on the other side of the aisle. She doesn’t take it personally. It’s about the American people.”

And with that, a once-passionate critic of Kamala Harris became a total convert. Moral of the story? Through reason, debate and an open mind, we can overcome confrontation and establish connections we never thought possible. 

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Images: Getty