Does the “Peter Principle” apply to Kamala Harris?
Way back in 1969, educator psychologist Laurence Peter published a widely read book that established the “Peter Principle” as a trendy mainstay in corporate personnel management. It basically stated that people would be promoted until they reached the level of incompetence. Peter’s theory was that people doing a good job will eventually get promoted to a position for which they lack the knowledge and skill to perform well and that is where they stay – at the level of their incompetence. They can go no higher.
When thinking of Vice President Harris, that Peter Principle came to mind.
Up to her race for President of the United States, Harris had a decent reputation as the Attorney General of the largest state in America – no matter what one might have thought of her political philosophy. She then moved on to the United States Senate. In both cases, California voters thought she was the right person for those jobs. In both cases, the chinks in her armor — her weaknesses and ideocracies, and even her political philosophy — did not show up. She was only a member of a group. The spotlight of public scrutiny was not so bright.
She got high marks from many as the AG and Senator, but that all changed when Harris applied for a promotion to the presidency. She came on strong – and faded fast. Applying the Peter Principle, one might argue that the presidency was at, or more likely beyond, her level of competence.
However, due to the peculiarity of politics, Harris did get into the White House and one heartbeat away from the presidency. Biden selected her as his running mate to fulfill his pledge to select a woman. He doubled down on identity politics by selecting a black woman. Her skills and competence were secondary considerations – if even that.
The fact that Biden put her a heartbeat away from the presidency does not mean the American people are comfortable with that thought. In fact, the voters have shown everything from disdain to downright fear of a Harris presidency. That is why her support among the voters is abysmal. It is about the same as it was when her own presidential campaign exploded at liftoff.
So, why do most Americans – including many Democrats –see Harris as too incompetent to hold the highest office in the land?
- The most obvious reason is that Harris has not done a very good job as Vice President. That is where she ran out of the “competency” factor.
- She is too far to the left. At least half of Americans do not embrace her hardcore woke policies. Whether they achieve it or not, most voters want a unifier in the Oval Office. Harris is not that. She sees the “loyal opposition” as enemies of the state – and her the personification of the state.
- She seems to lack the oratorical skills to present cogent and convincing narratives on critical issues. She too often sounds like she is lecturing to five-year-olds. Grownups see that as patronizing and insulting. She is so bad at public communication that many refer to her “word salads.”
- When she has been put on the world stage, she has committed a string of diplomatic or embarrassing blunders.
- Apparently, Harris is not a nice person to work for. Her political career has been marked by staff complaints and revolving-door departures.
- Then there is that cackle. Some object to it being called a cackle – but come on, man, that is what it is. And it surfaces at the most peculiar times. Some say I should not be a consideration in judging Harris – but it is.
The very thought of Harris ascending to the presidency is a major negative in Biden’s own campaign. If Biden was 50 instead of 80, maybe Harris would not loom so large as an election albatross — but he is not, and she does.
Maybe Harris’ problem is reflected in a flattering article by Lauren Leader for The Hill. The headline theme is that Harris is not the worst Vice President in history. At least she beats out Aaron Burr.
True to the Peter Principle, it would appear that Harris has risen to the point of her incompetency. We can only hope that she does not surpass it.
So, there ‘tis.