It is official; Kamala Harris is Biden’s running mate. While she is certainly not the left’s dream pick of a VP candidate (despite what Trump may be saying), Biden could also have picked someone far worse. Understanding the divide with Kamala ultimately boils down to what standards we hold higher.
Kamala Harris is a safe pick for VP on Biden’s end. She checks a lot of boxes. She is a woman of color, an accomplished one at that. Harris had a long career as a district attorney in San Francisco, and later Attorney General of California. She has a liberal voting record (for the most part). While (on paper) she holds decent left-of-center positions, but also appeals to the more centrist wing of the Democratic Party. She was the perfect pick for Biden.
While Kamala is a good pick for Biden, it is debatable of how “progressive” she is in totality. On paper she holds good positions on many issues. She kinda supported Medicare for All, supports taking Marijuana off the Schedule 1 narcotics list, as well as criminal justice reform.
As Attorney General of California, she did advocate for criminal justice reform and implemented certain policies to that affect. While this is true, she also fought against releasing non-violent offenders at a time when California had a crisis of overcrowded prisons. She was dismissive of efforts to legalize marijuana during her tenure as Attorney General, despite the fact she introduced a bill as a Senator to federally legalize marijuana.
By far the most controversial part of Kamala’s record comes from her anti-truancy policies she implemented as San Francisco’s District Attorney. Her policies threatened parents of truant children with heavy fines and jail time, a point which many on the left dislike her for. While Kamala has explained that the program was only meant in extreme cases of truancy, the position has still raised many eyebrows.
While Kamala today paints herself as and advocate of criminal justice reform, her record on that front is mixed at best. She did not earn the nickname “Cop” for no reason after all. In the past, Kamala often touted her tough on crime record. Her record on other fronts are also slippery.
Kamala Harris claimed to support Medicare for All. During the 2020 primary season she often waffled on defending the plan which effectively turned into a strong Public Option. While better then what America has now, it is not exactly the comprehensive program that leftists envisioned.
Kamala declined to prosecute Steve Mnuchin while Attorney General of California. Mnuchin, Trump’s Treasury Secretary, was found to be liable for numerous foreclosure law violations while CEO of a firm called OneWest from 2009-2015. When pressed on this front, she vaguely brushed the matter off as a “decision her office made.”
Kamala also took a strange position on student debt relief. Her proposal to relieve student debt was predicated on graduates starting small businesses, and even then, those debt holders would only have a portion of their debt erased. Not exactly a comprehensive plan to wipe out student loan debt. Her position is strangely touted by the media as supporting student loan “forgiveness.” Her plan though, only forgives a portion of debt for a portion of debt holders, which is not impressive to say the least.
While it is fair to say that Kamala Harris is not a leftist’s ideal person as a VP pick, leftists must understand the situation. Biden was not the left’s choice. We did not choose Biden as the nominee. In fact, he was the worst possible option available to us. However, progressives lost that battle.
Biden won and Bernie lost. Therefore, any VP pick in this situation is by default not going to appeal to the broader left. Any mythical notion of Biden picking Bernie, Nina Turner or even Warren as his VP was always laughable.
Consider this; Kamala was among the best of the worst possible choices. As hard as it is to accept, the pick could have been much worse. Imagine the horrific picks Biden could have made. Susan Rice? Pete Buttigieg? Amy Klobuchar? Mike Bloomberg? Tim Kaine again? All of those people are far more politically atrocious than Kamala Harris.
Biden is not a leftist. He never was and never will be. Given that, it is arguable that Kamala was the best of the worst. Her record is shaky at best, but it is probably better to have a VP with a shaky record than one who’s record is completely broken.