August is almost upon us. With all the other chaos erupting this year maybe you haven’t noticed, but presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden still has not named a running mate. Nearly four months have passed since Bernie Sanders dropped out of the Presidential race on April 8, and speculation as to whom Biden might select has flourished in that time. Shortly after Senator Sanders left the race Biden made it clear he intends to select a female running mate. After the death of George Floyd on May 25, the Biden campaign announced several of those in contention for the VP slot are women of color.
It’s no secret that California Senator Kamala Harris is among those on Biden’s short list, and rumors are swirling that she is the frontrunner. While she is a woman, and she is a woman of color, I again implore the Biden campaign, as I did back in April shortly after Senator Sanders left the race, to resist the lure of identity politics.
Kamala Harris has a past many Democrats choose to ignore, but it will come back to haunt her and her party should she be named as Biden’s running mate. In May The Resurgent’s Jason Thomas alluded to Harris’s troubling time as a prosecutor and her hypocritical shift during her own run for the Presidency, noting her reputation for, “being overly aggressive on drug-related prosecutions earlier in her career, while promoting criminal justice reform policies in her recent campaign for the Democrat Presidential nomination.”
Documents from Harris’s time as California’s Attorney General are deeply troubling. Harris ignored a 2011 Supreme Court ruling requiring the state of California to address the problem of overcrowding in its prisons.
Prior to Harris’s tenure as California’s AG, which began in 2011, the state’s prisons had at one point reached 200% of their design capacity. In May of 2011 the United States Supreme Court determined this was a violation of the Eighth Amendment. Harris doggedly fought the directive to reduce the state’s prison population, and the state was nearly held in contempt of court until Harris finally acquiesced in 2014.
Kamala Harris’s record of fighting to keep nonviolent, low-risk offenders in overcrowded California prisons after being ordered by the Supreme Court to address the problem will be an albatross for the Biden campaign should he select Senator Harris as his running mate. Her record would be problematic in any election year, but it will be especially problematic this year after George Floyd’s death thrust the issue of police brutality into the national spotlight once again. Calls for police reform, some including demands to defund police entirely, are hard to square with selecting a woman with Kamala Harris’s record as a running mate.
In their fervor to select a female running mate for Biden his campaign would be wise to pause and consider the folly in selecting a woman whose public record paints a picture of an authoritarian tyrant, the embodiment of what has sparked the recent nationwide protests.