Kamala Harris, a North Bay native and California senator, announced her candidacy for the 2020 presidential election on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Many Californians, especially Bay Area natives, are ecstatic about the mixed-race democratic Senator announcing her candidacy; but there are many who aren’t so happy about the announcement. The discussion throughout social media about Harris is that she is the “female version of Obama,” but her past proves that statement to be false--she is a lot less progressive than people realize.
Harris represents a number of communities as an African American and Asian woman coming from the diversity of the Bay Area. Being one of the few democratic minority women in the nation who openly fights for ending cultural and gender divides, many people are quick to give her their support.
“Among her achievements as District Attorney, Harris started a program that gives first-time drug offenders the chance to earn a high school diploma and find employment,” states her official website biography. She is known to fight for liberal issues such as marriage equality, DACA, climate change, gang trafficking, the broken criminal justice system, and more. So from her upbringing, background, and progressive career path, she seems to be the perfect candidate for the Democratic party, which still strongly fights for cultural and identity issues. But many find Harris to be extremely controversial because of her contradicting beliefs and past as California’s attorney general. Harris herself has claimed to be a “progressive prosecutor,” but simple research on her term as attorney general shows otherwise.
Throughout her career as District Attorney and Attorney General, Harris stayed silent on addressing criminal justice reforms. She went through hot waters in 2010 for keeping information about a laboratory technician who was accused of tampering with evidence and stealing drugs from the police lab, according to The New York Times. Her argument against the ruling was that the judge posed a “conflict of interest” because the judge’s husband, who was a defense attorney, expressed the importance of disclosing evidence publicly. There was an Orange County case in 2014 that ruled the death penalty unconstitutional, in which Harris released a statement showing that she was for the death penalty, reports CNN. Harris was also against a bill in 2015 that made it a requirement to investigate shootings that involved officers and refused to support regulating the use of body cameras worn by police officers, which is extremely shocking considering police brutality against African Americans in our nation.
Among all these things, Harris has a record for wrongful conviction in cases. Daniel Larsen is in prison serving a 28-year-to-life sentence for possession of a concealed weapon, but there is copious amounts of evidence that proves Larsen’s innocence. Harris, however, has fought to keep Larsen in prison and claims that Larsen “failed to raise his legal arguments in a timely fashion.” This is another example where Harris was on the wrong side of history.
Although she seems to be a reliable candidate for those who were underrepresented greatly during Trump’s term, her past stops many people from believing what she claims to stand for. If Harris wants a better chance at gaining more votes, it is important that she addresses her past mistakes and proves that she actually cares about the issues she claims to stand for. On the surface, she may seem like the “female version of Obama,” but is important to pay attention to the details that entail her character and drive her decision making.