By Nafina Raha
Former Vice President (VP) and current Democratic nominee for President, Joe Biden, announced his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris on August 11. She officially accepted the nomination for Vice President at this year’s Democratic National Convention, making history as the first Black woman and the first Asian American to be nominated for national office by a major party. Although Harris was very outspoken in her criticisms against him during her own presidential bid in 2019, Biden is fully confident in his choice of running mate.
“I have no doubt that I picked the right person to join me as the next Vice President of the United States of America,” Biden said during a speech in his hometown, Wilmington, Delaware.
Biden’s selection of Harris as his VP pick opens his campaign up to a wider population of Black and women voters. As a woman of color, born to an Indian mother and a Jamaican father, Harris represents a snippet of the vast diversity of the United States population.
Harris’s career began in criminal justice, followed by becoming the second Black woman ever elected to the Senate. She built her 2016 Senate campaign around her actions as a prosecutor, including an environmental lawsuit she levied against big oil companies, and a lawsuit against big banks, in which she won $20 billion for California homeowners, according to the LA Times. Harris’ campaign also emphasized her mission to prosecute transnational gangs for exploiting women and children, portraying her as a protector of the less fortunate.
However, Harris’s past career as a prosecutor has placed her under strong criticism from both parties. Her past positions as a district attorney of San Francisco and an attorney general of California have led to criticism, especially from the left. For example, she was met with harsh criticism pertaining to her prosecution and imprisonment of many people on minor marijuana infractions. This background in prosecution and law enforcement is unattractive to many on the left, especially younger Democrats, given the current police-reform movement in response to the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police officers this May.
Despite her controversial prosecutorial background, Harris has been very outspoken about legislation in regard to racial justice in light of Floyd’s murder and the following protests, arguing for an overhaul of the police, along with declaring lynching a federal crime. Harris has described her past career as being a “progressive prosecutor.” She considers herself to have created a bridge between being tough on crime and acknowledging the issues within our nation’s criminal justice system.
In a past interview with National Public Radio (NPR), she explained how she believed it was best to attack the system from within.
“It is my belief that when you want to reform systems, when you want to change systems, there is no question that there’s a very extremely effective role to be played in terms of advocacy from the outside of the systems…But I also believe that it is important to be in the room where the decisions are being made,” Harris said.
Harris’s political opinions include raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, a strong stance on women’s reproductive rights, and a massive criticism against Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), even going as far as comparing it to the KKK, according to the Washington Post.
These opinions are only a few of the reasons why Harris has been targeted as an enemy of the Trump campaign. His administration and campaign has levied many criticisms against the Biden-Harris ticket. “Together make up the most extreme, leftist ticket in American major party history,” Trump released in a statement after Biden’s announcement of his VP pick.
During her tenure as Senator for California, Harris became known for her public criticisms on officials and nominees within the Trump administration. Most notably, Harris was outspoken against the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court due to several concerns, including the possibility of anti-abortion legislation, his weighing of presidential power in regards to the Mueller investigation, and the multiple allegations of sexual assault against him.
President Trump has been very open in his sentiments against Harris, describing her as “nasty,” and using other derogatory terms.
Despite all the backlash she has received from the Trump administration, Harris is undoubtedly making history just by being on the ballot. To many, she represents a bright future for our multiracial nation. As a woman of color, her rise to the Vice Presidency could very well begin a legacy similar to that of Michelle Obama as an outspoken female voice from within the White House.