Good news is so rare in 2020 that I’m not sure I recognize it anymore. Just kidding: Joe Biden’s selection of California Senator Kamala Harris is good, indeed historic, news. She’ll be the first black woman as well as the first Asian Pacific person to be on a national ticket. She was my first choice for the Veep slot and second choice in the primary after Senator Professor Elizabeth Warren. I am pleased.
The process was messy. People took a gossipy Politico story about the Veepstakes way too seriously. Some on Team Biden apparently thought Harris is “too ambitious” as if ambition is only seemly for male politicians. That’s why Charlie Pierce calls it Tiger Beat On The Potomac.
Fortunately, Joey Shark is comfortable in his own skin and secure enough to select someone with better rhetorical skills as his number two. Kamala Harris is the right person at the right time. Her own campaign flopped, but she’s been a force to be reckoned with as a first term Senator. That’s as rare as President* Pennywise telling the truth.
Team Trump is already overreacting to the Harris pick. The Impeached Insult Comedian called her “nasty” for being mean to Justice Bro during his confirmation hearings. Poor baby. They’re calling Harris a “phony” for criticizing Biden when she was running against him. That’s rich considering the shit Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, and Ted Cruz threw at Trump in 2016. Besides, it goes with the territory: in 1960 LBJ essentially called JFK an invalid and in 1980 Poppy Bush denounced “voodoo economics.” They were both on the ticket. And Bush became an exuberantly loyal Veep for 8 years. That’s some weak shit as is the cliched “too radical” attack.
There were some rumblings from the “Kamala is a cop” crowd on the performative left yesterday. Nobody is better suited to help reform the criminal justice system than someone who has worked in it. Call it the “reformed sinner” argument. She can follow in the footsteps of her fellow Californian Jerry Brown. When Brown became an advocate for radical campaign finance reform, he argued that he could change the system because he understood it.
I’m not going to defend Harris’ record as a prosecutor, I’ll let San Francisco public defender Niki Solis do it:
“Having had this experience, I feel compelled to speak on Harris’ record while she was a district attorney. Simply put, Harris was the most progressive prosecutor in the state. This is not an anecdotal opinion. It is based on facts.
As San Francisco DA, Harris refused to seek the death penalty — even on a case where a very respected police officer was tragically killed. Marijuana sales cases were routinely reduced to misdemeanors. And marijuana possession cases were not even on the court’s docket. They were simply not charged. Unless there was a large grow case, or a unique circumstance, this was the reform-minded approach then-DA Harris’ office took. The accusations about marijuana prosecutions being harsh during her tenure are absurd. The reality was quite the opposite.”
The Harris pick makes perfect sense politically. Black women have long been the backbone of the Democratic party. Joe Biden has probably gathered as many white working class votes as possible. Turnout remains the key in 2020. If yesterday’s reaction is any indication, African American turnout should be back to 2008 and 2012 levels this time around.
I’m hoping that there will be more outreach to the Indian-American community than there was during Harris’ own run for the top job. Ethnic politics are as American as apple pie. Having the daughter of a Jamaican man and an Indian woman on the national ticket sends a powerful message of inclusion. It presents a stark contrast to the Current Occupant who is one of the most xenophobic and racist presidents* in American history.
A final note. Senator Harris’ first name is pronounced COMMA-LA. It’s an Indian name that means lotus or pale red in Sanskrit. It’s now the name of the next Vice President of the United States. Make it so, America, make it so.