An Analysis of Kamala Harris

It’s time to take a deep dive into the candidate surging in the polls after a stellar debate performance: Senator Kamala Harris of California.

The Good
Kamala Harris’s record including fighting members of her own party in her belief that the Death Penalty was immoral. Harris voted against nearly every Trump nominee to every office, and used her power as Attorney General to go after banking institutions. Harris has disavowed Super PACS and most corporate donations.In her 2016 race she ran against another Democrat, choosing to run as the more progressive candidate.

Kamala Harris’s foreign policy positions are the most progressive of the Democratic field with the exception of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

Harris is in favor of Re-entering the Paris Accords and the Iran Deal. She supports full diplomatic relations with Cuba, withdrawal from Afghanistan voted in favor of ending involvement in the Yemeni genocide and curtailing the power of the AUMF passed after 9/11. She opposes reauthorizing the Patriot Act.

Harris has also staked out an extremely progressive domestic agenda as well. Her agenda puts her to the left of Barack Obama, and the rest of the Democratic field apart from Sanders and Warren:

She supports the most robust form of Medicare for All and is open to all possible expansions to get there. Her tax reform would establish the beginning of a negative income tax. She would partially repeal the Trump tax cuts and establish new taxes on the wealthy. She favors a Universal Pre-K program as wept as free tuition at four year Universities. She opposed TPP from day 1, would end Trump’s tariffs, and backs Bernie’s Federal Jobs Guarantee.

Sen. Harris supports the green new deal, labeling carbon as a pollutant and reinstating Obama’s clean power rules. As California’s Attorney General she prosecuted Exxon Mobil. She supports the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies.

For gun policy, Harris backs an assault weapons ban, universal background checks, bans on extended clips and bump stocks, closing the gun store loophole and supports partially banning the advertisings of gun stores. One of her top priorities as Attorney General was getting guns off the streets.

On Immigration, she favors a pathway to citizenship, opposed the militarization of the US Mexico Border, supports reforming ICE and is in favor of Sanctuary cities. She would reinstate DACA, opposes the Border Wall and Co sponsored a bill to reunited families separated at the border-Has vowed to make voting rights a top priority.

Harris favors abolishing the Death Penalty, criminal justice reform, marijuana legalization and introduced a bill to give money to states to modernize election equipment. She has vowed to nominate liberal judges.

Harris would make history as the first female President, the first Asian American President, and the second black President. Her electoral history is good. She won 62% of the vote in 2016. Her favorability is about ten points better than Trump, and she beats him by about 3 points in head to head match ups. Her home state approval rating is a respectable 14 point margin, much better than Trump’s approval of -10.

The Bad
Kamala Harris’s record as a prosecutor and Attorney General is her greatest liability. She dismissed a lawsuit over solitary confinement in California, denying it it even happened in California Prisons. She said nothing as her state gave a blank check to private prisons, and expanded the prison industrial complex by nearly a billion dollars. She argued for a DNA database of all arrested individuals, even those not charged with a crime, and endless civil forfeiture by law enforcement.
In a book she wrote, she claimed that reducing sentences and punishment for crime wasn’t the answer, despite the US having the highest prison population in the world. She increased felony conviction rates by 15% and defended California’s draconian three strikes law where three minor felonies can land a defendant in prison. She supported the law outright, campaigning against a ballot initiative that would have repealed it in November 2004. Harris kept this conservative approach in 2006, when conservatives and liberals alike tried to get her to change her mind on three strikes. This was even true in 2010, where her Republican opponent ran against her from the left over her support of the draconian law. As Attorney General, she had the chance to weigh in on two propositions that would have given judges the power to weaken the law (once in 2012, and the other in 2014). Harris didn’t take a position.
In 2011, Harris announced she would prosecute the parents of kids who were truant to school. A move that the LA Times called a political stunt and overwhelmingly saddled the poor and untraditional families with criminal records. In a years time, two mothers were sentenced to a year in jail and a $2,000 dollar fine. In a tape to donors, she laughed about it.

Harris originally sided with corrupt police officers. As DA she refused to hadn’t over the names of officers with histories of misconduct who helped secure convictions. As AG, she opposed instituting body cameras statewide, and lobbied against a bill that empowers the California AG office to investigate fatal police shootings.

She defended an attorney who used a falsified confession, fought a sexual reassignment surgery for a California prisoner, and laughed at marijuana being legalized nationwide as late as 2012 (her Republican opponent ran to her left on the issue here too).

Harris’s worst deed as a prosecutor was the case of an innocent man sentenced to life in prison. A man named Daniel Larsen was accused of throwing a knife under a car by two police officers. He was sentences to 27 years to life. The problems with the case were nine-fold.

  1. The punishment did not fit the crime.
  2. Larsen was unfairly targeted by police in the first place.
  3. Witnesses reported it wasn’t Larsen who through the knife, the police lied.
  4. Larsen’s Lawyer was disbarred for his misconduct in the case.
  5. The conviction was reversed due to lack of evidence and attorney incompetence by the presiding judge.
  6. Harris fought the judge’s decision through an appeal
  7. Harris won on a technicality-Larsen had filed his paperwork late
  8. Two years later he was released
  9. Harris filed new paperwork to throw him back in prison five months after his release. Forcing him to yet again fight Kamala Harris, despite judges concluding he was innocent.

Harris’s “victories” were settlements with the five big Mortgage Lenders, where she received an 18.4 billion dollar settlement. The cost of the mortgage meltdown to the US economy was 16 trillion dollars.

Her views on sex workers basically belong in the stone age. Her support for SESTA/FOSTA and the closing of back page have made sex work even more dangerous.

In terms of her Senate career, Harris voted in favor of troops in Syria. Her donors are largely Hillary Clinton alumni. Harris is a strong supporter of AIPAC, has aligned herself with the far right Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, condemned BDS and committed to more military support for Israel. She never challenged Israel on it’s secret nuclear program or illegal settlements.

Harris is also a recent convert to many of her progressive positions. We don’t know how committed she is to them compared to other candidates because her record of public service isn’t as long.

How She Wins
She uses the Obama strategy. Through a series of strong fundraising and debate performances she proves to be in the top 3 or four candidates. From there she sweeps the black vote in the South and earns just enough support from white liberals divided between her, Warren and Sanders. She caps it off by winning her home state of California. She then wins the General Election be making up the 70,000 votes in MI, WI and PA plus a play for NC and GA-hoping to increase black turnout to Obama 2012 or 2008 levels.

Libertarian Socialist who writes about politics, economics, philosophy religion & history. Former Newspaper Columnist.

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