Kamala Harris: What Biden’s Running Mate Brings to the Campaign
BY: Margaret Pham
California Senator Kamala Harris is Joe Biden’s running mate. The announcement was made on Tuesday. Presidential nominee rival turned campaign partner Kamala Harris was chosen among nearly a dozen female candidates after Biden promised Democrats a female running mate. Taking his cue from former President Barack Obama, Biden has chosen a former rival to work with him on his race to the White House.
A daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants, Senator Harris will be the first woman of Black or Indian descent to appear on a presidential ticket. Beyond her ethnic background, she also brings to Biden’s campaign a very different energy that will no doubt be a force to be reckoned with on the debate stage.
Senator Harris’ career has been mostly spent as a prosecutor whose history may be a hurdle that many liberal voters must overcome. Before she became a California Senator, she was a District Attorney in San Francisco for 7 years, and the Attorney General of California for 6 year. Her tenure as the Attorney General of California is where many Democrats will draw their criticisms. Her “tough-on-crime” approach along with being known as “top cop” will prove difficult to stomach for some voters. Early in her campaign, she struggled to respond to criticisms surrounding her misdeeds as district attorney of San Francisco, when she selectively supported capital punishment in California. She notably refused to support it when handling a case where a cop, Isaac Espinosa, was fatally shot by a gang member. This may incite criticisms from all sides of the political spectrum.
While the New York Times described her as “a pragmatic moderate” and conservatives like Ben Shapiro labeled her “a far-left radical,” many progressive and grass-roots liberals worry that she may not share the same ideals that they envision for the future of America.
Biden’s nomination of Harris does not come as a surprise for many. The Biden-Harris pairing does have some history. Beau Biden, Joe’s late son, worked together with Harris as fellow attorney generals. But this does not mean Harris did not have some choice criticisms for Joe. During a Democratic debate, Harris called out Biden’s opposition to a busing program and his close work with segregationists in the 1970’s. She notably stated, “a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public school… bused to school every day…that little girl was me [Harris]”.
Over the past few years, Harris has established her name in the Capitol. She made history in American public service as a Junior Senator. And she has been a trailblazer for many women, most notably those of color, becoming only the second Black woman ever to be elected to the Senate.
Her record of notoriously direct questioning was famously seen in the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court appointment hearings, where her history as a chief prosecutor took centre stage. Similarly, we have seen how quick she is on her feet when she questioned Attorney General Willian Barr, catching him off guard and quickly pointing out any filibustering. We will most likely see more of her tenacity in the upcoming political debates with incumbent Trump-Pence pairing.
However, she has recently been at the forefront in calls for law enforcement reform. Her work in the Senate may have helped her standing in a time where the calls of the civil rights movement surge through the threads of the American moral conscience. Young people in particular are taking it upon themselves to demand change, and are determined to dismantle systemic racism.
“Black lives have not been taken seriously as being fully human and deserving of dignity. And it should not require a maiming or torture in order for us to recognize a lynching when we see it and recognize it by federal law” – Senator Kamala Harris
Harris is quoted saying that we must “reimagine how we do public safety in America.” More recently, she has shown up to protests and pushed for proposals in the Senate to make lynching a federal crime and to support universal healthcare. In light of the George Floyd protests, she was also at the forefront in the passing of a police reform bill.
Harris and Biden share their left-leaning centrist ideals. Hopefully, she draws a more diverse group of voters along with the younger demographics. Her past as a top prosecutor will bring the same energy we have seen in Senate hearings to the debate stage.
*All arguments made and viewpoints expressed within Youth In Politics and its nominal entities do not necessarily reflect the views of the writers or the organization as a whole.
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