On August 11th, Joe Biden announced California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate for the 2020 election. This choice is historic – Harris is the first Black and South Asian woman to be a vice-presidential candidate for a major party. However, she’s received mixed reviews in the Democratic party. Her decisions in court as a prosecutor, the district attorney of San Francisco, and the attorney general of California, have earned a reputation for being tough on crime.
I think that the discussion surrounding Harris’s previous actions are extremely important. Given current racial tensions in the country and the Black Lives Matter movement, her history is more relevant than ever. The policies and ideologies she supports now contradict her actions in the past; she has allowed wrongly convicted people to stay in prison, and according to Vox, she has pushed for the incarceration of parents whose kids missed school. One of her most famous contradictions surrounds the use of recreational marijuana. She has been quoted saying that she smoked in college, but did not support the legalization of the drug until recently. Up until that point, she affirmed the imprisonment of people who had done the same thing she had.
Again, in an age of information and misinformation, it is crucial that we have these conversations. Though the whirlwind of media can be confusing, I think we are especially lucky to live in a time where information is readily available. While it is important to bring Harris’s problematic history to light, we have to accept that she and Biden are our best and only option for defeating Donald Trump. They are not everybody’s first choice, and they certainly are not mine. But the imminent danger that Trump puts people in, including people of color, people of the LGBTQ+ community, people who need help paying for their healthcare, people who don’t want to get COVID-19, and people who want to live on a habitable planet outweighs the want for a different set of candidates.
I think the ideal scenario would be to have Biden and Harris as president and vice president for the next four years, and then to move on to a different set of candidates whose political histories align with the progressive policies for which they advocate. I would not mind, for example, seeing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the presidential race in 2024 or 2028. However, in order to get there, we must ensure that Biden and Harris win this November.