PC CREDIT: Kamala Harris hopes to reinforce US relations with allies in the region, Singapore and Vietnam (GETTY IMAGES)
Kamala Harris, in full Kamala Devi Harris, (born October 20, 1964, Oakland, California, U.S.), 49th vice president of the United States (2021– ) in the Democratic administration of Pres. Joe Biden. She was the first woman and the first African American to hold the post. She had previously served in the U.S. Senate (2017–21) and as attorney general of California (2011–17). Her father, who was Jamaican, taught at Stanford University, and her mother, the daughter of an Indian diplomat, was a cancer researcher. Her younger sister, Maya, later became a public policy advocate. After studying political science and economics (B.A., 1986) at Howard University, Kamala earned a law degree (1989) from Hastings College. She subsequently worked as a deputy district attorney (1990–98) in Oakland, earning a reputation for toughness as she prosecuted cases of gang violence, drug trafficking, and sexual abuse. Harris rose through the ranks, becoming district attorney in 2004. In 2010 she was narrowly elected attorney general of California—winning by a margin of less than 1 percent—thus becoming the first female and the first African American to hold the post. After taking office the following year, she demonstrated political independence, rejecting, for example, pressure from the administration of Pres. Barack Obama for her to settle a nationwide lawsuit against mortgage lenders for unfair practices. Instead, she pressed California’s case and in 2012 won a judgment five times higher than that originally offered. Her refusal to defend Proposition 8 (2008), which banned same-sex marriage in the state, helped lead to it being overturned in 2013. Harris’s book, Smart on Crime (2009; cowritten with Joan O’C. Hamilton), was considered a model for dealing with the problem of criminal recidivism.
In 2012 Harris delivered a memorable address at the Democratic National Convention, raising her national profile. Two years later she married attorney Douglas Emhoff. Widely considered a rising star within the party, she was recruited to run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Barbara Boxer, who was retiring. In early 2015 Harris declared her candidacy, and on the campaign trail she called for immigration and criminal-justice reforms, increases to the minimum wage, and protection of women’s reproductive rights. She easily won the 2016 election. When she took office in January 2017, Harris became the first Indian American in the Senate and just the second Black woman. She began serving on both the Select Committee on Intelligence and the Judiciary Committee, among other assignments. She became known for her prosecutorial style of questioning witnesses during hearings, which drew criticism—and occasional interruptions—from Republican senators. In June she drew particular attention for her questions to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was testifying before the intelligence committee on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election; she had earlier called on him to resign. Harris’s memoir, The Truths We Hold: An American Journey, was published in January 2019. Shortly thereafter Harris announced that she was seeking the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. From the outset she was seen as one of the leading contenders, and she drew particular attention when, during a primary debate, she had a contentious exchange with fellow candidate Joe Biden over his opposition to school busing in the 1970s and ’80s, among other race-related topics. Although Harris’s support initially increased, by September 2019 her campaign was in serious trouble, and in December she dropped out of the race. She continued to maintain a high profile, notably becoming a leading advocate for social-justice reform following the May 2020 death of George Floyd, an African American who had been in police custody. Her efforts silenced some who had criticized her tenure as attorney general, alleging that she had failed to investigate charges of police misconduct, including questionable shootings. Others, however, felt that her embrace of reform was a political maneuver to capitalize on the increasing public popularity of social change. As racial injustice became a major issue in the United States, many Democrats called on Biden, the party’s presumptive nominee, to select an African American woman—a demographic that was seen as pivotal to his election chances—as his vice presidential running mate. In August Biden chose Harris, and she thus was the first Black woman to appear on a major party’s national ticket. In November she became the first Black woman to be elected vice president of the United States. In the ensuing weeks Trump and various other Republicans challenged the election results, claiming voter fraud. Although a number of lawsuits were filed, no evidence was provided to support the allegations, and the vast majority of the cases were dismissed. During this time Harris and Biden began the transition to a new administration, announcing an agenda and selecting staff. By early December all states had certified the election results, and the process then moved to Congress for final certification. Amid Trump’s repeated calls for Republicans to overturn the election, a group of congressional members, which notably included Senators Josh Hawley (Missouri) and Ted Cruz (Texas), announced that they would challenge the electors of various states. Shortly after the proceedings began on January 6, 2021, a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol. It took several hours to secure the building, but Biden and Harris were eventually certified as the winners. She later denounced the siege—which many believed was incited by Trump—as “an assault on America’s democracy.” On January 18 she officially resigned from the Senate. Two days later, amid an incredible security presence, Harris was sworn in as vice president.
Vice President Harris’ advice to young women: ‘Continue with your ambition and don’t apologize for it’
As the first female vice president of the United States, Kamala Harris understands the challenges many women face when it comes to sexism, ageism and navigating the demands of home life and work life. In a recent interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Harris spoke with co-host Mika Brzezinski about why she’s “never thought of age” as it relates to her career and the advice she would give women in their 20s and 30s who “feel like they have to pack it all in” because “there’s a clock ticking.” “One, continue with your ambition and don’t apologize for it,” the vice president told Brzezinski as part of the launch for Forbes’ 50 over 50 list. “And, continue to believe that you can do whatever you want to do.” As women in their 20s and 30s become mothers, wives and caretakers, Harris said she wants them to know that “you have a right to expect things like affordable child care, you have a right to expect paid family leave when you need to take care of your children or your elderly parents.” The 56-year-old Democrat, who has publicly addressed the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on women juggling family and work, added that “you have a right to expect that you will be seen in the full dimension of who you are” and that your responsibilities “should be supported.” “These things can co-exist,” she said in regards to some women feeling like they have to choose between family and career. “So, what I say then, do not accept false choices that you have to choose either this thing or that thing, that’s a false choice. Don’t accept it.” Harris, who has broken lots of barriers for women in her career, told Brzezinski she also advises young people to never take “no” for an answer as they work to accomplish their goals. “I’ve been told many times during my career things from, ‘Oh, you’re too young, it’s not your turn, they’re not ready for you, no one like you has done it before,’” she said. “I’ve heard all those things many times over the course of my career, but I don’t listen. And I would encourage anyone who’s been told that, whatever their gender, to not listen, because again, don’t be encumbered by the inability of others to see the potential of who you are.”
VP Harris: ‘The Status of Women Is the Status of Democracy’
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris told a U.N. Women’s conference Tuesday that when women are denied equal rights, it makes it much harder for democracies to thrive. “In other words, the status of women is the status of democracy,” Harris told the 65th Commission on the Status of Women in a video message. Harris, who is the United States’ first female vice president, said democracy should ensure that every citizen, regardless of gender, has an equal voice. “The status of democracy also depends fundamentally on the empowerment of women,” she said. “Not only because the exclusion of women in decision-making is a marker of a flawed democracy, but because the participation of women strengthens democracy.” Harris’ participation at the conference is the first time the U.S. has taken part at such a high level. The two-week long gathering usually draws more than 2,000 women to U.N. headquarters in New York from all levels of government and civil society to discuss the progress and protection of women’s rights. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s event is mostly virtual. The theme of the conference is “women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.” In her pre-taped remarks Tuesday, Harris noted that women’s empowerment is a work in progress in the U.S. “Women in the United States lead our local, state, and national governments, make major decisions regarding our nation's security, and drive major growth in our economy,” the vice president said. “These are signs of progress. These are signs of strength. But, friends, we cannot take this progress for granted.” Harris warned that democracy and freedom have been increasingly under strain around the world, noting that experts have said this past year saw the biggest global decline. “So, even as we confront a global health crisis and an economic crisis, it is critical that we continue to defend democracy,” she said. “To that end, the United States is strengthening our engagement with the United Nations and the broader multilateral system.” Since U.S. President Joe Biden and Harris were inaugurated on January 20, they have moved quickly to reengage at the United Nations, reversing Trump administration decisions that cut ties with the World Health Organization and the Human Rights Council, and defunded the U.N. Population Fund, which provides sexual and reproductive health services to women in poor countries.
Kamala Harris Makes History as First Female Vice President
Vice President Kamala Harris became the first Black woman and person of Indian descent to be sworn into that high office on Wednesday, and on the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote, she also became the first woman with the title. Holding her hand over two Bibles, one belonging to a close family friend and the other belonging to civil rights icon and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Harris was sworn in outside the west front of the U.S. Capitol by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina on the High Court. By her side was her husband, Doug Emhoff, who himself makes history in becoming the first ever second gentleman and the first Jewish spouse of a vice president. For women who have been waiting, wondering if they would finally be represented at such a high level, and for little girls who dressed as Harris for Halloween and don her signature Converse sneakers as part of their daily pandemic wardrobe, moved by seeing someone who looks like them in such a powerful position, January 20, 2021 gave them an answer: at last, yes. "While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last," Harris has often repeated since President Joe Biden was elected last year. Harris, who voters in California elected to the Senate in 2016, quickly became a lawmaker-to-watch, putting her former prosecutor skills to work on the Judiciary Committee where she became a cult hero among Democrats for her searing lines of questioning. This isn't the first time Harris has made history: Before her election to the Senate, she served as the first Black Attorney General for California, and the first woman in the state to hold that position as well. Biden's choice of a Black woman as his running mate served as a recognition that it has been Black women who have been the Democratic Party's most loyal constituency – that proved true again during the 2020 election, when 93% of Black women cast a ballot in favor of Biden, according to AP's VoteCast survey. Harris, 55, is the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants who met in California and marched for civil rights, giving Harris what she described during her speech at the Democratic National Convention as a "stroller's-eye view" as a young child witnessing the 1960s movement. In introducing herself to the country on the campaign trail, Harris often focused on her devotion to her family, especially her late mother who traveled from India to attend college in Berkeley, California and raised Harris and her younger sister as a single parent – a story that's familiar to millions of people across the country who don't typically see themselves reflected in government. As a Black woman, Harris is expected to bring an important perspective to the national reckoning and civil unrest over systemic racism that swept the country last year, as well as to the Biden administration's plan to eradicate COVID-19 – a pandemic that's disproportionately impacted Black communities. Her elevation to the White House, now official, has generated excitement among her beloved Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, the Divine Nine and students and alumni of Howard University, Harris' alma mater. And on Wednesday Harris also became the first graduate from a historically black college and university to be sworn into such a high level of office – an accomplishment that, in the wake of Biden's election, has shown a spotlight on the important role HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions play in serving some of the country's most marginalized students. As vice president, Harris is set to hold a powerful position as president of the Senate giving her the tie-breaking vote in what will be a 50-50 Senate. With Democrats and Republicans holding the same number of seats in the Senate, Harris' vote could seal the fate for everything from Biden's Cabinet picks to $2,000 stimulus checks. After the inauguration ceremony concludes, Harris is set to head to the Senate chamber where, in her first task as the country's first Black vice president, she plans to swear into office Georgia Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, making official their own historic victories as the first Black man and the first Jewish person elected to the Senate from the state of Georgia.
Kamala Harris’s foreign policy, explained
When it comes to foreign policy, Sen. Kamala Harris is very much the “simpatico” running mate Joe Biden was looking for. Based on her Senate record, answers to questionnaires when she was a presidential candidate, debate remarks, and interviews with those who know her, many of her foreign policy views fall right in line with Biden’s. Harris views America’s alliances and partnerships as crucial to solving global problems such as the coronavirus pandemic and climate change. She would prioritize diplomacy, human rights, and the promotion of democratic values like the rule of law — meaning that, among other things, she would push China to stop persecuting Uighur Muslims and cracking down on free speech in Hong Kong. And she’d focus on rebuilding economic strength and easing social tensions in the US so that the country could present a stronger, more united front abroad. Harris, then, would staunchly bolster Biden’s global vision while in the White House. “In general, she is an internationalist,” said Halie Soifer, Harris’s national security adviser in the Senate from January 2017 to May 2018. “She would be a champion for rebuilding those alliances, partnerships, and America’s credibility in the world.” The question some have is whether Harris would aim to exert as much power over foreign policy as previous vice presidents, such as Dick Cheney — or Biden himself. Most people I spoke to don’t believe so. “I don’t see her as much of a foreign policy leader,” Justin Logan, a US foreign policy expert at the Catholic University of America, told me. “She obviously has very limited experience in the field,” Emma Ashford, a research fellow in defense and foreign policy at the CATO Institute, said. But she could still make a splash as Biden’s No. 2: Harris is a critic of autocratic regimes, namely Russia and Saudi Arabia, and would certainly continue her rebukes. She remains a firm backer of Israel, to the chagrin of many progressive activists, and may reject calls to weaken America’s relationship with the country. As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Harris gained an appreciation for defending against foreign election interference and the dangers of cyberspace. Yet she’s been open about wanting to cut defense spending — usually an unpopular stance in US politics, and one that President Donald Trump has already seized on as a means of attacking her. “She wants to slash funds for our military at a level that nobody has — can even believe,” Trump said during a press conference Tuesday. Foreign policy in a Biden administration would undoubtedly be led primarily by Biden himself, yet Harris still has the potential to be an impactful vice president on the world stage. “Democrats certainly have confidence in Harris’s abilities to give her more space on foreign policy issues,” said Zachary Hosford, who worked with the senator’s office on global issues as an adviser to Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA). “I certainly would have confidence in her abilities there.” Biden and Harris have similar worldviews Biden has spent decades working on foreign policy, and many believe he’d be loath to relinquish control of that area to Harris. Indeed, that she’s not known for her global vision may be one reason he chose her as his running mate. “I’d say that Joe Biden didn’t pick her for foreign policy credentials. He already has that angle covered,” said CATO’s Ashford. “She’s as likely to be steered by his foreign policy views as the other way around.” That may be true, but it helps that both candidates on the Democratic ticket share remarkably similar foreign policy views. Here are the three main ones. Alliances Since the end of World War II, Democrats and Republicans have pursued largely similar approaches to US foreign policy. Presidents from both parties have used America’s power to underwrite and maintain what’s called the “liberal international order,” which basically means the set of economic and political rules and values that help the world function. The US never did this out of the goodness of its heart. Promoting free trade and liberal democracy was meant to provide America with markets to sell goods to and countries with which to build alliances against adversaries. It was never a perfect system, and the US made many, many errors along the way. But overall, that grand strategy helped the US maintain its position as the world’s preeminent power. That, in a nutshell, is the world Biden and Harris want to restore and protect. “For the past seven decades, the choices we have made — particularly the United States and our allies in Europe — have steered our world down a clear path,” Biden said in a speech at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in January 2017, just two days before leaving office as vice president. “In recent years it has become evident that the consensus upholding this system is facing increasing pressures, from within and from without. It’s imperative that we act urgently to defend the liberal international order.” Compare that with an answer Harris gave to the Council on Foreign Relations while she was running for president: “The greatest US foreign policy accomplishment has been the post-war community of international institutions, laws, and democratic nations we helped to build.” Harris believes America keeping its commitments to allies helps bolster the nation’s power. “Part of the strength of who we are as a nation — and therefore, an extension of our ability to be secure — is not only that we have a vibrant military, but that when we walk in any room around the globe, we are respected because we keep to our word, we are consistent, we speak truth, and we are loyal,” Harris said during a Democratic presidential debate in November 2019. Those views are key to understanding how Harris sees the world, those who know her told me. “She understands the importance of partnerships and alliances when it comes to our national security,” Rebecca Bill Chavez, a top member of Harris’s presidential campaign foreign policy team, said. Human rights Those close to Biden told me he’ll make human rights an important aspect of his foreign policy. Whether it’s reprimanding Saudi Arabia for the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi or pushing China to end the internment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, Biden plans to spend ample time on those and similar issues. Harris would be fully on board with that agenda, people who worked with her said. “The issue of human rights is incredibly important to her,” said Soifer, the senator’s former national security adviser. She’s already made defending human rights a significant part of her work in the Senate. In June 2019, Harris voted to block arms sales to Riyadh to punish Saudi Arabia for Khashoggi’s murder as well as for the war it leads in Yemen, which has seen thousands killed and millions displaced. Harris also voted to end US support for that war earlier the same year — a war Biden has also vowed to pull America out of. In the Council on Foreign Relations questionnaire, she also floated the idea of downgrading US-Saudi ties. “[W]e need to fundamentally reevaluate our relationship with Saudi Arabia, using our leverage to stand up for American values and interests,” Harris answered, though she acknowledged that there are areas — such as counterterrorism — on which the two nations could still cooperate. Harris has also been very outspoken about China’s human rights abuses. She and 55 other senators co-sponsored the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019, which would end the special relationship between the US and the city Beijing aims to take over completely. And she joined 65 of her colleagues as a co-sponsor on the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020, which President Trump signed into law in June. The law imposes sanctions on foreign individuals and entities involved in abuses in Xinjiang; it also requires the president to “periodically report to Congress a list identifying foreign individuals and entities responsible for such human rights abuses.” Whether Harris maintains her staunch human rights defense while making complicated foreign policy deals with tough global leaders will be one of the more challenging dynamics of her time in office. Climate change Biden has promised that, as president, he would have the US rejoin the Paris climate agreement from which Trump withdrew. During her presidential campaign, Harris pledged the same. She also said she’d make climate change a central focus of America’s relationships abroad. “Governments around the world should be bringing dangerous coal-fired power plants offline, not bringing new plants online, and underscoring that necessity should be front and center in every one of our bilateral relationships,” she told the Council on Foreign Relations. “We should also play a leadership role in compelling international institutions to use their leverage to end subsidies for dirty fuel.” As a senator from California — a heavily Democratic state that has experienced extreme wildfires and flooded rivers, among other effects connected to climate change — it’s no surprise that Harris has made this a big priority. In her 2019 book The Truths We Hold: An American Journey, she spent considerable time detailing the risks climate change poses to the world: [C]limate change will lead to droughts. Droughts will lead to famine. Famine will drive desperate people to leave their homes in search of sustenance. Massive flows of displaced people will lead to refugee crises. Refugee crisis will lead to tension and instability across borders. ... The hard truth is that climate change is going to cause terrible instability and desperation, and that will put American national security at risk. Put together, Harris will be in lockstep with Biden on some of his major foreign policy stances. But she could also use her time in office to focus on some additional areas of particular interest to her — and potentially garner both positive and negative attention for doing so. Where Harris might make a foreign policy name for herself Many experts say Harris could carve out a role for herself — somewhat independent of Biden, but still with his blessing — on three key foreign policy areas. Election interference and technology As a freshman senator, Harris got the rare opportunity to serve on the Senate Intelligence Committee, where she delved deeply into the myriad national security threats facing the US. Intelligence Committee members “are privy to some of the most clear threats the US has,” a person familiar with her views told me, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on behalf of the Biden campaign. One of the main threats Harris focused was Russian election interference, the former aide said. It’s something she speaks about often. “When they influenced our elections, they diminished in some ways the integrity of our election system, and therefore their goal was accomplished,” Harris said at the Lesbians Who Tech & Allies virtual Pride Summit in June. “And they did it through technology.” Mandating paper ballots on Election Day, Harris has proposed, is one way to help strengthen the security of US elections. California is home to Silicon Valley, and many of Harris’s most powerful constituents are intensely focused on securing their technologies against attacks from Russia, as well as from China, North Korea, and Iran. She’s clearly soaked up a lot of their concerns. “Cyber warfare is silent warfare,” she wrote in her 2019 book. “I sometimes refer to it as a war without blood: There are no soldiers in the field, no bullets and bombs. But the reality is cyber warfare aims to weaponize infrastructure and, at its worst, could result in casualties.” As a younger, more tech-savvy politician than Biden, Harris could potentially take a bigger role in safeguarding America’s electoral system and US-made technologies. Defense spending In June, Sen. Bernie Sanders proposed a 10 percent cut to the national defense budget — which is currently over $700 billion — to pay for other priorities, including health care, education, and investment in new jobs. It was a controversial amendment to a defense bill that failed multiple times in Congress, and Harris voted against the measure. Yet she made clear she backed the general thinking behind it. “I unequivocally agree with the goal of reducing the defense budget and redirecting funding to communities in need, but it must be done strategically,” Harris said in a statement on her decision to oppose the amendment. “I remain supportive of the effort, and am hopeful that with the benefit of additional time, future efforts will more specifically address these complicated issues and earn my enthusiastic support.” Harris’s hesitance to vote for such a large cut makes sense: California has the largest population of military members and their families in the US — a fact she explicitly noted in her statement — and such a constituency certainly cares about the size of the US defense budget. However, Harris did vote against another increase to the budget in July, and has long said some of the money the military usually gets could go to diplomats and investments in other parts of the federal budget, such as technological innovation, education, and environmental protection. Cutting the defense budget will certainly meet stiff resistance from most Republicans and some Democrats, should Biden and Harris both agree it’s a good idea (those close to Biden told me he’d likely push to cut the defense budget). Harris could use her relationships from her time in the Senate to lobby allies to vote for a cut, which would place her squarely in the center of a major initiative of the Biden administration. Israel Progressive Democrats in recent years have called for a reevaluation of America’s decades-long close relationship with Israel, concerned about the rightward shift in Israeli politics under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government’s policies toward the Palestinians. Many progressives weren’t happy to see Biden become the likely nominee — and they’re not likely to be any happier with Harris as his running mate. Simply put, she’s been unequivocal about standing by Israel. Her first foreign policy vote in January 2017 was to criticize the UN for condemning the country on its settlements in Palestinian territories. Later that year, she spoke at the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a US lobbying group that advocates for a strong US-Israel relationship. “I believe the bonds between the United States and Israel are unbreakable. And we can never let anyone drive a wedge between us,” she said. “[The] first resolution I co-sponsored as a United States senator was to combat anti-Israel bias at the United Nations and reaffirm that the United States seeks a just, secure, and sustainable two-state solution,” she told the crowd, though she didn’t highlight that many other Democrats also signed on to the bipartisan resolution. In 2018, she attended the conference again, this time giving an off-the-record address that was recorded and shared on social media by several attendees. In her speech, she made a surprising revelation: “As a child, I never sold Girl Scout cookies, I went around with a JNFUSA box collecting funds to plant trees in Israel.”
Acknowledging the Achievements of Kamala Harris
The passage of the 19th amendment, over a century ago, enabled some’s voting rights; today, the first woman occupies office as the Vice President of the United States. Kamala Harris, with her black, Indian, and Jamaican descent, marks significant milestones in her position. Continuing to make history, a new era has begun.
Her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, had arrived in the United States from India in 1958 as a 19-year-old; she became a biologist cancer researcher. Her father, Donald Harris, who came from Jamaica taught at Stanford University. Born in 1964, She had a very normal childhood up till she was 7 with her sister Maya when her parents sadly separated. She went on with her life and eventually attended Howard University, a historically black university in Washington, D.C. Harris then returned to California to attend law school at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law through its Legal Education Opportunity Program. While at UC Hastings, she served as president of its chapter of the Black Law Students Association. She graduated in 1989 and a year later she joined the Alameda County District Attorney’s office where she specialized in prosecuting child sexual assault cases.
In 2002, Harris prepared to run for District Attorney of San Francisco against two others. Harris won with 56 percent of the vote, becoming the first person of color elected as district attorney of San Francisco. Fast forward to 2010, she was elected attorney general of California! Thus becoming the first female and first African American to hold the post. A book she wrote, smart on crime, was considered a model for dealing with the problem of criminal recidivism. In 2014 she married attorney Douglas Emhoff. She was chosen to be recruited for the U.S. Senate for a seat that belonged to a woman who was retiring. In 2016 she won the election by a landslide for calling for immigration and criminal- justice reforms, increased minimum wage, and protection of women’s reproductive rights. As the pattern continues, she became the first Indian American in the senate. Harris announced that she was seeking the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. In August, Biden chose her, thus the first black woman to appear on a major party’s national ticket. Heading on to November, she became the first woman to ever be elected Vice President of the United States. Kamala Harris is a role model in many ways as most of her major accomplishments were stated above. Very inspiring to not only women around the country, but specifically women of color. Not only am I a biracial woman, but we are also very alike. She is of black and Indian descent just like me. There are not nearly enough women in powerful roles represented in this country, let alone women of color. Even though we have gone through some setbacks in the past, we have come out on top and will continue to. Kamala stated in her victory speech “But while I may be the first woman in this office, I won’t be the last. Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.” Just 60 years ago, segregation was an everyday normal occurrence. And today, a woman of color breaks the substantial barrier and takes the position of vice president of the united states of America. With this progression, an era enters recognizing the power of women.
5 things Sen. Kamala Harris has done besides be interrupted
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) is, it is now obvious, a rising star in the Democratic Party. Supporters compare her to a neo-Obama — and to Game of Thrones heroine and queen of dragons Daenerys Targaryen. There’s an unofficial Harris 2020 presidential campaign Facebook page with 1,137 followers. Just days after the 2016 presidential election, the New Yorker listed Harris among “Thirteen Women Who Should Think About Running for President in 2020.” With a background as San Francisco district attorney from 2004 to 2011 and California attorney general from 2011 to 2016, Harris has been recognized as a bold but meticulous legislator for the DC Circuit. And while she has said publicly that she doesn’t intend to run for president in 2020, her high-profile (and often interrupted) performance at recent Senate Intelligence Committee hearings has left several news outlets speculating that she is positioning herself to at least consider campaigning. Let’s narrow in on some of her biggest achievements — and what they tell us about her legislative priorities. 1) During the housing crisis, she won a historic mortgage settlement case that helped more than 84,000 California families Harris’s landmark accomplishment as California AG came on the heels of the financial crisis. In 2012, during her first year in the position, she brokered a $25 billion settlement deal with the nation’s five largest mortgage companies (Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, CitiFinancial, GMAC/Ally Financial, and Wells Fargo) citing improper foreclosure practices. California homeowners received $18.4 billion in mortgage relief, according to a 2013 report by the AG’s California Monitor Program. To make this happen, Harris took a major risk. She pulled out of an earlier settlement deal in an effort to hold out for more money for the affected homeowners — a decision that was widely criticized at first. But in the end, her gamble paid off. The New York Times described it at the time: In the end, she walked away with far more than California was slated to receive in the early days of the talks and a little more than was on the table as recently as January. Beaming into the cameras last Thursday, she said California homeowners were guaranteed $12 billion in debt reduction, while most other states received only promises. 2) She’s come out against for-profit colleges Her next big victory as AG came in 2016 when she won a $1.1 billion settlement against the for-profit (now defunct) Corinthian Colleges for predatory and unlawful practices. But her track record on predatory higher education schemes is far from perfect. The issue came up during her Senate race in 2016 when her opponent Loretta Sanchez criticized her for failing to investigate complaints against Trump University after it was revealed that her AG office received contributions from Donald Trump in 2003 and 2011. The New York Times broke the story that Trump has made tens of thousands of dollars in contributions to at least four state attorneys general who were investigating Trump University, including Harris. The Harris campaign told the Times that she donated the money from Trump to charities after the then-presidential candidate made derogatory statements about Mexicans. Since her election to the Senate, Harris has demonstrated strong support for affordable opportunities in higher ed. She co-sponsored a bill in May of this year with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). If it passes, it would allow students with outstanding loan debt to refinance at the (often lower) interest rates offered to new borrowers. 3) Her work with the LGBTQ community led to the SCOTUS decision in favor of marriage equality During her time as DA from 2004 to 2011, Harris opposed both Proposition 22 and Proposition 8, which limited marriage to one man and one woman. Though they passed in 2000 and 2008, respectively, both were struck down while she was in office. As San Francisco DA, Harris also created a Hate Crimes Unit aimed at prosecuting hate crimes committed against LGBTQ teens in school. Harris’s early support of marriage equality in California directly laid the legal groundwork for the US Supreme Court’s decision in 2012 that same-sex couples have the right to marry. The Court cited California’s success in striking down Prop 8 in its opinion. Within hours of the decision, plaintiffs to the Supreme Court case Kris Perry and Sandy Stier became the first gay couple to wed in San Francisco, and Harris officiated their wedding. 4) She has experience prosecuting human trafficking — and is sharply critical of the war on drugs A major priority for Harris during her tenure as AG was prosecuting transnational gangs known for trafficking drugs, firearms, and humans. Her office also led a groundbreaking study on the impacts of transnational criminal organizations and human trafficking in California. She’s channeled that experience in her criticisms of the Trump administration recently. At the 2017 Ideas Conference in May, hosted by the liberal think tank Center for American Progress — an event widely seen as a proving ground for potential Democratic presidential candidates — Harris gave a speech where she called out the Trump administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions on their trafficking and drug policies. “Let me tell you what California needs, Jeff Sessions,” she said, eliciting applause from the crowd. “We need support in dealing with transnational criminal organizations and dealing with human trafficking — not in going after grandma’s medicinal marijuana.” 5) She calls herself “smart on crime,” but some allege she’s really “tough on crime” When she was first elected AG in 2010, Harris commanded a staff of nearly 5,000 people in the state with the country’s second-largest nonfederal prison system. At that time it had 135,000 inmates and 750 individuals on death row, per a New York Times report. In 2014, BuzzFeed reported that the attorney general’s office lawyer had unsuccessfully argued against the release of eligible nonviolent prisoners from California's overcrowded prisons because the state wanted to keep them as a source of state labor. The federal judges disagreed with this argument and ruled against Harris’s lawyers. Harris came under fire again in 2016 for signing off on California Gov. Jerry Brown’s sweeping prison reform ballot initiative that would repeal determinate sentencing laws and offer parole programs to inmates in state-run prisons. The state District Attorneys Association alleged that it was forced through without enough time for public comment. That year, Harris’s AG office was also the subject of a 2016 investigation by the Intercept into prosecutorial misconduct and informant misuse. Meanwhile, Harris’s stance on the constitutionality of the death penalty is a bit of a mystery. During her time as San Francisco district attorney, in a highly publicized and widely criticized decision, she did not pursue capital punishment for then-22-year-old David Hill, an alleged gang member who shot and killed city police officer Isaac Espinoza. But later in 2014, as attorney general, Harris went to the Ninth Circuit Court to appeal US District Judge Cormac J. Carney’s decision declaring the death penalty unconstitutional. According to reporting at the time by the LA Times, Harris offered a window into how she understands her responsibility to constituents, even those she disagrees with: She reportedly said that though she personally opposes the death penalty, she was elected by voters who supported it, and she pledged to enforce the law.
Kamala Harris | A woman with many firsts to her name
When U.S. Senator Kamala Harris was picked to be the running mate of presumptive Democratic nominee for the presidency, Joe Biden, she became the first black and Indian American woman on a major party presidential ticket in U.S. history. Ms. Harris was born in 1964, to the late Shyamala Gopalan, a cancer researcher from Chennai, and Donald Harris, an economics professor from Jaimaca. Students at the University of California at Berkeley, a campus known for its activism, Ms. Gopalan and Mr. Harris were involved in the civil rights movement. That is the world Ms. Harris entered. She has recalled being taken in a pram to civil rights marches. Her parents divorced when she was a child, and Ms. Harris and her younger sister Maya were primarily raised by their mother, visiting their father on weekends and during the summer holidays. The Harris children grew up around their mother’s friends, many of whom were civil rights activists and intellectuals. Ms. Harris has talked about being deeply influenced by her maternal grandfather P.V. Gopalan, a civil servant, and grandmother, Rajam Gopalan. Ms. Harris said her grandfather would take her on his walks along the beach in India and she would hear him and his friends talk about democracy. She has also spoken of being inspired by her grandmother’s involvement in women’s rights. Shyamala Gopalan raised her children with a sense of “pride” in her South Asian roots and a “strong awareness of and appreciation for Indian culture”, Ms. Harris writes in her book, The Truths We Hold. Her mother knew that American society would see the Harris children as black girls and was determined to make sure they would grow up to be “confident, proud black women”. Ms. Harris attended the ‘historically black’ Howard University where she majored in economics and political science. After getting a law degree from UC Hastings, Ms. Harris began working as a prosecutor in Oakland. She has described wanting to change the system from inside and had to defend her employment choice with friends and family “as one would a thesis.”
In 2004, Ms. Harris became San Francisco’s District Attorney (DA) — the first black woman to hold the position. In 2011 she became the first female Attorney General (AG) of California. Ms. Harris had indicated that she wanted to be a “progressive prosecutor” and some of her actions in her early years as a prosecutor are in line with that description. For instance, as San Francisco DA, she created the Back on Track programme, in which first time drug offenders could avoid jail time by finishing high school or getting a job. She also mitigated the consequences of a law that said could lock someone up for 25 years for committing a third felony by insisting that the DA’s office only bring charges on a third felony if it was violent or serious. However, in her later years, she was criticised for her “tough on crime” and pro-police, pro-establishment type actions. As California’s AG, she was criticised for not adequately investigating charges of prosecutorial misconduct and defending convictions that involved police officers inserting false evidence. Ms. Harris’s changing record on the death penalty, which she personally opposes due to its finality and disproportionate application to minorities, has also been criticised. As DA in 2004, she refused to seek the death penalty in the 2004 killing of a police officer. A decade later, however, as AG, she appealed a judge’s ruling that the State’s death penalty was unconstitutional. Ms. Harris argued that it was her professional duty to defend the State’s laws regardless of her personal beliefs. Another controversy in her history stems from a relationship in 1994 that Ms. Harris had with California politician Willie Brown, which raised questions of significant conflicts of interest when he helped her get positions on two state government bodies. In recent years, Ms. Harris emerged as a strong proponent of criminal justice reform. Her proposals announced during the Democratic primaries included policies that would legalise marijuana, abolish solitary confinement, private prisons, cash bail and the death penalty. 00:0 As a U.S. Senator since 2016, she has served on powerful committees on Intelligence and Homeland Security. One of the things she is known for is her prosecutorial style of questioning at Senate hearings. Her interrogation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation is cited both by her admirers and critics (including, recently, U.S. President Donald Trump). Following the police killings of African Americans George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police, Ms. Harris co-sponsored the Senate’s Justice in Police Act in June. She also co-sponsored a Bill to make lynching a federal crime. After the pandemic hit, Ms. Harris introduced legislation to create a task force to address the racial and ethnic disparities in the impact of COVID-19 and the response to it. In 2019, Ms. Harris and Republican Mike Lee introduced legislation that would result in an increase in country-wise caps for green cards, a move that would benefit citizens of countries with green card application backlogs, like India and China. In terms of foreign policy, Ms. Harris has said she would work with China on common interests — like climate change, while addressing the country’s human rights abuses such as with China’s Uighur minority. The situation is considerably more complex now than at the start of the Democratic primary season with a more aggressive and assertive China and a more damaged U.S.-China relationship. Ms. Harris is an advocate of a closer relationship with the Europeans and reaffirming support for Ukraine against Russian aggression, i.e., she is in alignment with traditional U.S. foreign policy in these respects. In an August 2019 interview with the Council on Foreign Relations, a think tank, Ms. Harris said the community of post-war institutions were among the greatest U.S foreign policy accomplishments (like Mr. Biden, she wants America back in the Paris Agreement on climate). The biggest foreign policy mistake, as per Ms. Harris, was America “jeopardising” the progress made via these institutions by engaging in “ failed wars” that have “destabilised the regions in which they have been fought”. In this respect, Ms Harris appears to share with progressive Democrats an instinct not to intervene militarily in foreign conflicts.
Speaking in Delaware last week, Ms. Harris and Mr. Biden — at their first appearance together since the V-P announcement — emphasised the Trump administration’s botched response to the pandemic, the state of the U.S. economy with more than 16 million unemployed and race relations. Mr. Biden’s economic recovery plan for America, with the theme “build back better” will likely be the focus of the initial days of a Biden-Harris administration. Ms Harris outlined other priorities if elected to office: a clean energy program, building on the Affordable Care Act ( she and Mr Biden differed on their approaches to healthcare during the primaries), protecting women’s abortion rights, criminal justice reform and strengthening voting rights in the U.S. At the moment, the Biden-Harris duo has nationwide lead over the Trump-Pence team. Should they win in November, Ms. Harris will be well on her way to being a serious contender for the leadership of the Democratic party as well as the U.S. presidency.