Women in Politics: Kamala Harris

Katie Petersen

Kamala Harris, current US Senator from California and hopeful 2020 democratic nominee, first spent over 20 years working as a prosecutor in the San Francisco area and served as California’s attorney general. In her role, she prosecuted criminal organizations, played a critical role in defending the Affordable Care Act, helped in achieving marriage equality, and won $20 billion for the middle-class who were facing foreclosure during the Great Recession.

In 2016, Kamala Harris, the daughter of two immigrant parents, became America’s first Indian-American Senator and California’s first black Senator in 2016. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day of this year, she announced her candidacy for the 2020 presidential election. She hosted a launch rally for her campaign shortly after in her hometown of Oakland, California. Her advisors estimated that over 20,000 people were in attendance, even larger than the crowd that Barack Obama drew when he announced his run.

While she has tried not to tie herself to any one issue, she has followed her party’s shift leftward as she supports Medicare for All, hasn’t taken corporate donations, and has recently supported the legalization of marijuana. She brings together a plethora of experience both from her  judicial work, but also her public service background in local, state, and federal government. Despite her experience as attorney general, Kamala Harris is positioning herself as a candidate that is not pigeonholed into one specific ideology. She places herself as someone with a clear history in fighting for the people. Harris and her team claim to have the power to put together a winning coalition of voters, which is a clear democratic priority after the election of President Trump.

However, while Senator Harris claims to be a “progressive prosecutor,” many point to examples of times when she upheld wrongful convictions in cases where the tampering of evidence, false testimony, and suppression of crucial information was later found. That is not to take away from her very progressive record in the Senate and overall record as a prosecutor. However, many are claiming that her title of being a “progressive prosecutor” is generous and are calling for, at the bare minimum, an apology for those cases she dismissed after misconduct was found. Regardless of her previous experiences, if Senator Kamala Harris were elected, she would be the first woman, the first Asian-American woman, and the first African-American woman as president, which would be nothing short of historic.