Written by Joey Slusher
As of August 11, 2020, the Democratic party has had its presidential ticket when Vice President Joe Biden nominated Senator and competitor for the presidency, Kamala Harris. Harris is known to be quite the rising star in the Democratic party. She was elected Attorney General of California serving from 2011 to 2017 before her victory in her 2016 race for the Senate. Harris’ election was a historic one, as she is the only Black woman to be elected to the United States Senate. That being said, who is Senator Harris, what are her shortcomings as a candidate, and what can the policies she has championed in the past tell voters about her?
Harris was born to two immigrant parents. Both her parents moved to the U.S. for college. Her father is from Jamaica, and her mother is from India and both were active in the Civil Rights Movement during the 1960s, which Harris and her sister became benefactors as they participated in bussing programs. Harris would later study political science at Howard University, and soon after graduating from law school in 1990 she was hired as a deputy district attorney.
From 1990 until her eventual win in the 2016 Senate race, Harris would be some kind of prosecutor in the state of California. Her controversial decisions while prosecutor have led to her garnering the “Kamala the Cop” which Harris didn’t help by calling herself California’s top cop on the campaign trail during the Democratic primary. One of the bigger controversies took place when Harris indicated that she had tried marijuana and was in favor of legalizing it despite the fact her department had continued to prosecute people for smoking and possessing the drug which had hurt communities of color in particular.
That being said, in her time as Attorney General Harris pushed for reform of the criminal justice system such as her ardent opposition of the death penalty, her ban on the Gay and Trans panic defense, and the instatement of policies focused on police reform and education.
When she was elected Senator from California in 2016 Harris continued to make waves in her party. She has become infamous for her intense questioning of President Trump’s cabinet nominees as well as her role on the Senate Judiciary committee. These incidences made her a darling among Democrats and caused much speculation about a presidential run in 2020 which ended up being the case.
Harris’ run was strong in the beginning, as she had the support of moderate Democrats prior to Joe Biden’s entrance into the race. Even after Biden’s announcement, she landed a major blow on the new frontrunner about his controversial opinions on busing, which as mentioned before, Ms. Harris had directly benefited from as a child. This was the peak of her popularity and Senator Harris’ campaign quickly ran out of money, eventually forcing her to drop out of the race. From that point on media pundits argued that Senator Harris left the race to join the Biden ticket.
Many are calling out Senator Harris for joining Biden despite their disagreements on policy. She is being torn apart and being called too moderate by the progressives. On the other hand, she is, ironically, being called a socialist by the Right for her positions on a public option and larger aid packages for the COVID-19 crisis. All the while she is the first woman of Asian or Black heritage to be nominated for a major party ticket and her candidacy will make history win or lose.