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Kamala Harris-Joe Biden’s Right-hand Woman: A Spotlight on Democratic VP Choice

On August 11, 2020, US Senator for California, Kamala Harris made national headlines when Joe Biden announced her as his running mate. From former rivals to aspiring President and Vice President duo, Kamala Harris soon became an indelible force to America as a whole. 

Kamala Harris’s headlining fierce attack on Joe Biden’s previous stance on busing during a 2019 Democratic debate is long gone. Now, Ms. Harris, 55, is setting a new precedent; she is the first bi-racial and bi-ethnic woman of color to be selected as a fellow companion to an aspiring president for the Democratic national ticket. She gives hope to a wide array of angsty Americans both young and old who seek sound leadership that has the potential to dynamically address issues of higher education, healthcare, the economy, climate change, and the current global health crisis. She also holds the potential to help mitigate current racial tension between White and Black communities and instigate a shift in hostile attitudes.  

Being of both African-American (Jamacian) and South-Asian (Indian) descent, Harris is no stranger to the trials low income and middle class folks are all too familiar with. Kamala was born and raised in Oakland, California by immigrant parents- economics professor Donald Harris and cancer researcher Shyamala Gopalan. Ms. Harris gained her volatile, assertive, and well-collected demeanor from her mother. She often acknowledges her mother as a predominant source of inspiration to lead by example and provide a voice to the voiceless. Following her graduation from Howard University in 1986, she proceeded to obtain a law degree from The University of California, Hastings College of Law in 1989. She is more famously known as being a  criminal prosecutor for San Diego, attorney general for California, and US Senator for California.

I caught up with Queens College’s Political Science Professor Alexander Reichl for an expert input on what Biden’s choice of Kamala Harris means for the imminent future of our nation, as well as the ways in which her criminal justice background may impact her role as Vice President. Professor Reichel affirms that “naming Harris, a successful woman of color, as the VP nominee gives Biden some advantages in his campaign, as she clicks with many core constituencies of the Democrats. A Democratic victory would have enormous implications even if it did no more than halt and roll back President Trump’s agenda.” Professor Reichl’s claims adeptly summarize Ms. Harris’s energetic and promising future to sway disgruntled and hesitant Bernie Sanders supporters. Her experience as a former prosecutor “provides some reassurance to moderates, including coveted suburbanites, who may lean left but fear Trump’s menacing ‘far-left’.”

Often, Kamala Harris is cited as an emfatic centrist. Professor Reichl defines someone who is centrist as “neither too far left (liberal) nor too far right (conservative).” A centrist like Ms. Harris can be also referred to as a moderate. In more pragmatic terms pertaining to policies, being a centrist Democrat means that she “likely supports greater access to healthcare  and higher education, as well as efforts to combat climate change and promote economic opportunity for disadvantaged populations.” Ms. Harris’s centrist ideals should not be confused with self-proclaimed ‘Democratic-socialists’ such as Bernie Sanders and Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez. 

Ms. Harris’s prosecuting experience, consolidated with Joe Biden’s “tough-on crime” persona in the 1980s-1990s, will dispel the widespread erroneous perception that some Democrats are on the wrong side of the law. As Professor Reichl contends, “Harris will likely continue supporting some criminal justice reforms, while holding the line against more extreme proposals like defunding the police.” Therefore, Harris’s background in criminal justice and abrasive prosecutor reputation will quell anxieties of Americans who fear a nationwide defunding of police. 

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