KHive pulls out as Kamala Harris popularity fades

For most who pay attention, Vice President Kamala Harris seems to have slipped.

His approval numbers are lower than those of President Joe Biden, as well as each of his predecessors at this point in his term. His role has largely been limited to casting decisive votes in the Senate or managing the administration’s stalled work on migration and voting rights, which does not help the polling station. Fellow Democrats have started to openly worry about each other (and reporters) that she’s not ready to lead the party’s national ticket, and at least one poll indicates that if a notional open primary were held today she could get single-digit support today.

But while they may not be as enraged as they once were, Harris can still count on the support of a stronghold of supporters: the #KHive.

Years after the shocking Democratic primaries ended, the cowardly digital warrior collective is still fighting on its behalf. And yet, according to some of the #KHive executives, the mood has changed since the height of the 2020 campaign, when ardent – ​​sometimes reckless – dedicated Harris fans received campaign compliments and a request for support from Biden. himself.

“The vice president’s job has always been to tackle issues that may not be politically sexy or easy for the administration to win. She knew it when she decided to accept the President’s offer to join the ticket,” said Chris Evans, who under the @NotCapnAmerica handle has been one of the most visible members of the #KHive. “However, I think even the vice president herself admitted for about the first year or so of her term that she wanted to spend more time getting out into the country and coming face to face with the American people.”

“I constantly see people asking, ‘Where is Kamala? ‘” Evans said.

The Daily Beast reached out to more than a dozen high-profile members and former members of #KHive to see if, after 18 months in office, the VP lived up to their hopes. And while most still say they’ve got it back until the end, some quietly admit that the descent from the top of a winning campaign has been tougher than they bargained for, even s they would never say it publicly.

“I would never, ever say that I regret supporting the first black female vice president, ever. But the disappointment is real,” said a self-proclaimed former #KHive member, who asked to speak anonymously so as not to walk away from friends connected to the movement. “I was obsessed with the idea of ​​this person who could undo systemic racism, sexism and heterosexism in government in one fell swoop, and now I’m like, did I just invent a person in my head who could do these things? »

Overall, the #KHive, made up of the vice president’s staunchest — and, like most fandoms online, sometimes crazy — supporters, continues to have her broad support. As they have since his relatively short-lived primary campaign, they still sport bee emojis in their Twitter handles and many who spoke with The Daily Beast pointed out that the vice presidency is an office that is , by design, the second violin. Many believe Harris is held to a higher standard because of her race and gender.

“The last VP was in charge of a public health crisis and look what happened – we have over a million dead,” said Chantay Berry, another prominent #KHive member and organizer. . “He was given a very complex portfolio, like her, and he dropped the whole ball.”

But even the #KHive has slowed its pace since 2020, with the hashtag’s use on social media now being used to antagonize the vice president’s fandom as often as it is used to rally him. A Google Trends review shows that interest in the #KHive has dropped significantly since the 2020 election, and some of the biggest figures have left the movement, if one can leave a technically leaderless group of online stans.

Reecie Colbert, who was once one of #KHive’s most visible and controversial members, told The Daily Beast that while she’s “a strong supporter of the vice president and always will be,” she doesn’t has not identified herself as a member of the community for almost two years.

“I’ve always understood #KHive as a rallying cry and a hashtag, but after VP was selected, the person who started it started talking about branding and ownership, so I decided to quit. use it,” Colbert said. “I just don’t believe anyone should be answered in my advocacy…especially when I can be just as effective without the hashtag.”

Some supporters, Evans said, have taken action to help other candidates and causes they see as allies of Harris’ goals.

“Her supporters continue to defend her against unfair and baseless attacks, but now that she is in office, they have largely pivoted to help elect more Democrats at the federal, state and local levels who will support Biden’s political agenda- Harris,” Evans said.

The question of Harris’ political future remains a priority for many #KHive members, who remain convinced that despite current polls indicating otherwise, she is best suited to lead the Democratic Party whenever the opportunity arises. .

“It’s been a tough year,” Evans said, ticking the pandemic, inflation, supply chain crisis and Senate filibuster across much of Biden’s agenda as having bogged down popularity. of the president and the vice-president. “There are some very real challenges for the party in the years ahead, but I don’t think that’s specific to Vice President Harris.”

Berry said questions about Harris’ role in the party going forward divert attention from the more pressing issue that has hampered the vice president’s ability to be more visible outside the nation’s capital.

“We have to focus on winning mid-terms and everyone jumping forward two years later – like, we’re still in the middle of a primary, people!” Barry said. “She broke ties about 13 or 15 times in the first year. we have to vote this year so she doesn’t have to spend every moment breaking ties.

Internal conflicts are almost as common as external conflicts within online fandoms, political or otherwise. None of the #KHive members who spoke with The Daily Beast reported political disagreements between members that led to major rifts, as happened with the #YangGang, staunch supporters of the failed presidential candidate. Andrew Yang who have been split over Yang’s own embrace of Joe Rogan, increased funding for the New York Police Department and, more recently, a centrist third party with no political platform.

But some admitted to being caught up in the stan-ification of politics that has become widespread in extremely online political circles in the 2020 Democratic primaries. The coordinated campaigns of harassment and doxing between supporters of Harris, Sanders, Yang , then-Mayor Pete Buttigieg and others caused increasingly frequent headaches for candidates, particularly when targeting “rival” supporters, staff and reporters deemed insufficiently grounded.

“We’ve all gone a little crazy during the pandemic,” said another #KHive member, who still uses the hashtag on Twitter but has mentions disabled to avoid being drawn into “my ten millionth war. flames with #BernieBot”. it just gives us both heart palpitations. Nearly 1,000 days since they were the last rivals for the presidential nomination, the blood feud between #KHive members and supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) continues, to member exhaustion .

“Let’s relax and let the vice president do her job,” they said of their more laid-back approach. “Clowning around on Twitter isn’t going to make it any easier for him.”

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