Wednesday, August 12, 2020

THE DEMOCRAT'S VP CANDIDATE KAMALA HARRIS: IS SHE A WINNING TICKET?


By Lily Hikam*)

Earlier today the Biden campaign announced a notable event in the US history: Senator Kamala D. Harris, a Democrat from California, a former Attorney General, as their vice presidential candidate nominee, accompanying Joe Biden on the Democratic Party ticket for the upcoming presidential election in November 2020.

My reaction: not surprised to say the least.

There have been hints in recent weeks about who Joe Biden’s VP pick would be. A leaked Politico piece stating that the Biden campaign chose Harris as VP, not the least among them. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) dropping out of consideration and quoted as saying “this is a moment to put a woman of color on that ticket.”

In the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder by four Minnessota police officers and the riots and social unrest this act of savagery sparked, racial issues and racial justice (or lack thereof in American society) came back to the forefront of American consciousness and national discourse. Suddenly, issues such as police brutality, systemic racism, America’s racist criminal justice system and prevalent other race issues became the number one topic for national discourse.

The Democratic Party, who has long since fancied itself as the Party of inclusivity and diversity, then capitalized on this sudden shift in political climate by performing multitudes of symbolic gestures signaling their support for Black lives, without actually doing anything to improve Black lives. Who could forget the stunt Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and other Democratic congressional leaders pulled with their Kente cloths and kneeling for 9 minutes? Not to mention, the multitudes of “Black Lives Matter” murals in cities like Washington DC and New York City. The latter of which was located in front of Trump Tower at the direction of NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio. That’ll show him who’s boss!

But the Democrats never actually supported any legislation that would have immensely help the lives of African-American citizens through all of this upheaval. Their presidential nominee is Joe Biden, who wrote The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which introduced “mandatory minimum sentencing” and the “three strikes” law, both of which compounded to result in the incarceration of Black males at a rate higher than that of White males. Biden was also staunchly against the legalization of marijuana, part of Richard Nixon’s famed “War on Drugs” initiative, which resulted in the criminalization of the lifestyle of Black and Latino communities in the United States, again disproportionately sentencing people in these communities to jail time. I can go on and on about Biden’s terrible record on criminal justice, but I won’t. Instead I will urge you all to read the book “The New Jim Crow” (2015) by Michelle Alexander who expertly detailed all of this stuff.

We’ve established Biden’s abysmal record on criminal justice and how he played a big role in turning the United States into the world’s largest penal colony. In this, he was undoubtedly guilty of, and until recently still defended the 1994 Crime Bill. He should be the last person in the world running for president in a political climate where criminal justice is taking center stage. One would think that he would choose a running mate that could balance the ticket, persuade his detractors and people who were wary of his voting record on this issue, but instead he doubled down on his “tough on crime” stance and picked Kamala Harris, the current Senator and former Attorney General of California.

Nicknamed “California’s top cop” or “Copmala” by her critics, Kamala Harris, in many ways, is the perfect complement to Joe Biden. Both are staunch corporatists who will always fight for the interests of the Democratic Party Donors, not the people’s interests. Both are massive supporters of the Military Industrial Complex. Harris recently just voted AGAINST a 10% reduction in military spending and voted AGAINST Donald Trump’s attempts to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan. Both are friends of AIPAC (American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee) and fiercely opposed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement. Both are against universal social safety net programs, preferring the tried and true Democratic staple of means testing every single social assistance programs to oblivion, and most importantly they both shared the same tough-on-crime stance on criminal justice.

Kamala Harris liked to promote herself as a “Progressive Prosecutor”, yet a quick look on her record showed a prosecution record not that different from that of a prosecutor in the deepest of the Red States. There were multiple instances of Harris upholding wrongful convictions that had been secured through evidence tampering and false testimony. The most notable of these is the case of George Gage, a man wrongfully convicted of sexual misconduct. Harris’ teams of prosecutors withheld evidence from the court, and when judges compelled her to dismiss the case, she refused, resulting in Mr. Gage to still serving a 70-year sentence to this day. Harris also refused to release non-violent drug offenders out of fear of shortage of prison labor. The argument used was releasing non-violent drug offenders would result in California experiencing a shortage of important labor workforce. Indeed, in California prisoners can earn up to 22 cents per hour fighting forest fires alongside firefighters.

Harris laughed when someone suggested the possibility of legalizing marijuana, yet during her ill-fated presidential run proudly stated in an interview that of course she smoked marijuana since “half of her family is from Jamaica.” Quite possibly, the highlight of Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign was when Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) exposed her horrible criminal justice record on the debate stage, resulting in the former's plummeting in the polls and dropping out of the race before a single primary or caucus was even held. I would also like to note that Kamala Harris didn’t win a single delegate. So, the current vice presidential candidate is actually someone who couldn’t even win a single primary/caucus and didn’t win a single delegate!.

Harris also prosecuted parents of truant children, opposed ending cash bail which disproportionately impacted poor people and is a proponent of civil asset forfeiture, which is tantamount to legalized robbery of private citizens by police officers. And despite overwhelming support to abolish the death penalty in California, she was firmly against it. Steven Mnuchin, current Secretary of Treasury, is a frequent donor to Harris’ attorney general and senatorial campaigns, and during the 2010 housing crisis at One West Bank, which Mnuchin was a major shareholder, foreclosed illegally on homeowners. Interestingly, Harris, as attorney general back then, refused to prosecute Mnuchin even though she had grounds to. I’m sure it was just a "coincidence."

Kamala Harris’ appointment as VP candidate was nothing more than pandering to the African-American community and the progressive base. The Democratic Party needs to show that they’re the party of inclusivity, diversity, and progressive ideals. Unfortunately, this is just skin deep. The Democratic Party has no interest in pursuing and advocating for universal policies such as universal healthcare, universal basic income, universal childcare or $15 living wage, all of which are policies that will endow economic and racial justice to people of all races and creeds. And so this is the best they can offer their voters: the first African-American woman vice presidential candidate. A token gesture in place of a real reform. There’s nothing unique about Kamala Harris’ policy compared to other Democrats. Her domestic and foreign policies are standard Democratic Party orthodoxy. But I guess in this age of identity politics, and post-truth politics, representation is all that matters.

Would this Biden-Harris ticket be a winning ticket? Who knows. In this uncertain age of pandemic when the only thing voters want is to just REPLACE Trump, there’s a high chance they could win. Although to be fair, a ham sandwich with a “D” next to its name could also win against Trump in the current condition.

I would tell you this, though, Joe Biden has successfully united the Left and Right by picking someone who is hated by both of them. So, a great job on forming a unity ticket!

In closing, enjoy this amazing video of Tulsi Gabbard destroying Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign on national television:


*) PhD candidate
Department of Biological Chemistry
School of Medicine, the University of California, Irvine, CA,
USA
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