Meena Harris on Kamala Harris’ Campaign: ‘Women Aren’t Allowed to Make Mistakes’
Female candidates on the campaign trail are held to a double standard, which includes being forced to field inscrutable questions about their “electability.”
That’s the view of Meena Harris, who discussed the recent sudden conclusion to her aunt Kamala’s campaign for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.
Speaking at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Next Gen summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif., Harris acknowledged the campaign’s mistakes but suggested the bar had been set impossibly high.
“I hate to sound cynical, but what I saw was that women aren’t allowed to make mistakes and you have to be perfect,” said Harris, an Uber executive and Harvard University law school graduate who was an adviser to the campaign.
The campaign for the California senator began with sky high hopes, followed by Harris gaining momentum after the first Democratic debate. But it unraveled following reports of infighting over messaging and strategy.
Harris’ niece described herself as “still in a funk” over the abrupt end last week to the campaign, and expressed dismay that the next Democratic debate, scheduled for December 19, will feature no black or Hispanic candidates.
“We will have more billionaires than black people on the stage,” the younger Harris lamented.
She added that her aunt’s departure also meant the absence of a candidate who raised topics like teacher pay, reproductive rights, and a political system that takes black women for granted.
Harris says she has found resilience through her ongoing work with Phenomenal Women, a movement she founded that raises money and awareness about women’s issues in part by selling t-shirts. The $35 shirts have sold widely been donned by numerous celebrities.
“We’re daring to achieve a future we all proclaim to be true when we say the future is female,” she said.
Asked whether she would consider running for office herself, Harris had a definite answer.
“Hell no!” she declared, adding that she believes she can best advocate for women in her role as an entrepreneur.
More must-read stories from Fortune’s MPW Next Gen Summit:
—Chanel Miller is more than “Emily Doe”
—The “blameless post mortem” and other techniques that spur innovation
—Career pivots are daunting. Here’s how three powerful women made them work
—Goldman Sachs removed one word from recruiting materials and female hires soared
—Exclusive: Enterprise scion Chrissy Taylor to become car rental giant’s CEO
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