She is sharp, she is tough, and she is potentially the next vice president of the United States. Since her appointment as Joe Biden’s vice-presidential ticket in August, Senator Kamala Harris has been thrust into the limelight of the US election.
Her no-nonsense, hands-on approach that is synonymous with her work as district attorney and attorney general has carried on into her handling of the presidential race.
Since her nomination, Harris has made a definite impact on Biden’s campaign, but has this helped or hindered his chances of securing the presidency?
From an ideological standpoint, Harris is a happy medium in the diverse Democratic party of today. While she is more progressive than Biden, the Senator takes a mostly centrist-left stance on key issues in America today.
While, on occasion, this has left a lot to be desired among her liberal followers, her moderate policies are agreeable among older, conservative Democrats.
Her views on issues such as healthcare, Covid-19, climate change and the US criminal justice system are like Biden’s; they are pragmatic and balanced. Where Harris really shows her progressiveness is on matters concerning systemic injustice.
The daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants, Harris was the first black, Asian-American woman to hold the office of Attorney General.
Throughout her career, she has been a strong voice for marginalized groups, including women, people of colour and low-income Americans.
Harris came into her own when speaking out against racism in the wake of George Floyd’s death, which has put her on the radar of the younger, intrepid generation of Democrats.
Like all politicians, Harris has some skeletons in her closet. During her time as both DA and AG, the self-proclaimed “progressive prosecutor” supported the use of the death penalty, despite expressing personal opposition to it in the past. She was also condemned for refusing to support independent investigations into police shootings.
Additionally, Harris has a penchant for swinging back and forth between highly liberal and moderate viewpoints, which may raise alarm bells among voters.
In her own failed presidential campaign, Harris supported the abolition of private health insurance at a CNN town hall event, despite co-sponsoring Bernie Sanders Medicare for All legislation.
This oscillation between radical and centrist views could call Harris’s core values into question and give off a disingenuous impression, a dangerous prospect in the world of politics.
Despite this, Harris has always been a front-runner for the role of Biden’s second in command. In an article for Forbes magazine examining the Senator’s popularity among Democrats, data journalist Niall McCarthy cites polling data from The Economist and YouGov which shows that Democratic voters have consistently held positive opinions on Harris.
According to this data, before Biden even offered her the role as his running mate, 22 per cent of his supporters believed Harris should be nominated.
In addition to this, 51 per cent of Biden supporters see Harris as an asset to the campaign, a strong majority in comparison to the 12 per cent of supporters who think she harms his chances of winning the election.
Kamala Harris was never an underdog. She was the obvious choice for the vice-presidential ticket, and the right one in the opinion of many.
In a time where justice for Breonna Taylor has not been served and the president calls on white supremacists to “stand back and stand by” on live television, the nomination of Elizabeth Warren or Gretchen Whitmer as his running mate would have been a tone-deaf decision on behalf of Biden.
The Democratic party of today is youthful and diverse and ready for change – a reflection of Harris herself. In Harris, Biden has not only found a proficient vice-president, but a pair of capable hands to pass the future of the Democratic party into.
The presidential race is not yet over, and it is too early to pinpoint the successes and failures of Biden’s efforts in this election. What is clear is that Harris has unequivocally influenced Biden’s campaign, and at this moment, it seems that her impact has been for the better.
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