Americans love mavericks. Singular individuals who push the limits and break new ground. Trail blazers who won’t take no for an answer. Unique trendsetters who push through barriers.
But there always existed a historic glass ceiling in America. A boundary where women had yet to cross. An obstacle put in place by an orthodoxy that says women of color are not welcome. But the second highest office in the land is now held by a groundbreaking individual, Kamala Harris.
As a prosecutor she was tough. As an Attorney General she was unyielding.
As a Senator she was dynamic.
And as the first African American and first woman to be Vice President she is amazing. Kamala Harris has spent her career breaking barriers so she can help Americans. It is her life’s mission.
Welcome to the Misogynistic States of America
The appointment of Kamala Harris to the office of Vice President of the United States was historic. She became the first woman, the first Black, and the first Asian ever to serve our country in that role. Yet, according to author Anthea Butler, professor of Africana studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Harris’ should be a story about the first-generation child of immigrants who has risen to the top of the political world through intellect, strategy, and wit. Yet, instead of respect, the quest by MAGA Republicans to tear apart her identity, her accomplishments, and any misstep will continue until at least Election Day, November 2024.
Professor Butler went on to say, “Funny how a competent, successful woman accomplishing something heretofore unprecedented seems to do that to people. If a white man had a backstory like Harris’, conservatives would openly consider him a formidable opponent and worthy of at least some respect.” So, let’s prepare ourselves with the facts, by taking a deep dive into Kamala Harris’ backstory.
Harris earned a B.A. in political science and economics from Howard University in 1986 and a law degree from the University of California Hastings College of Law in 1989. Harris began her legal career in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office where she focused on prosecuting sex crimes. She later worked in the San Francisco District Attorney’s office and was eventually elected as the District Attorney of the San Francisco district in 2003.
As the State of California’s Attorney General (AG) in 2011-2017, she focused on issues such as criminal justice reform, consumer protection, and environmental protection. She was widely criticized by Black people for upholding California’s 3-Strikes Law before marijuana was legalized in the state. Newsflash! The California State legislature passed the 3-Strikes law. As Attorney General, it was Harris’ responsibility to uphold California’s laws.
Also, as California AG, when California was offered $4 billion in a national mortgage settlement over the foreclosure crisis, Harris fought for a much larger amount by refusing to sign the deal. She was proactive in Washington, D.C. at meetings of the Justice Department, seeking a more favorable settlement among states, the federal government, and American banks over the predatory mortgages that had helped sink the economy.
The banks wanted to pay as little as possible, and then be released from any future claims. Attorneys’ General in the other 49 states were angry with her. Every AG just wanted to get the mortgage crisis “over with.” Even President Obama was inclined to take the banks’ offer and move on. Harris was accused of grandstanding, but after a year of negotiations, she managed to secure a hefty $20 billion for California homeowners. Her actions resulted in greater mortgage settlements from banks to homeowners in those other 49 states as well.
Kamala Harris was elected by Californians to the United States Senate in 2016, making her only the second African American woman, and the first Asian Indian American woman to serve in the U.S. Senate. During her time as a progressive Democrat in the Senate, Harris served on Senate committees and worked on various policy issues, including immigration reform, criminal justice reform, and healthcare.
In 2019, she announced her candidacy for President. Although she initially was considered a strong contender, she withdrew from the race in December 2019, and in 2020, Joe Biden selected her as his running mate. In November 2020, the Biden/Harris team won the election, making Harris the “first” in multiple categories.
As Vice President, Kamala Harris has focused on leading on multiple issues, such as:
- Protecting abortion rights: Since the Supreme Court shamefully destroyed the federal protections of Roe v. Wade, Vice President Harris has been “subtly making herself the voice with a megaphone no one can ignore,” writes Philip Elliott at Time, adding that Harris has met with lawmakers across the country to promote crucial reproductive freedoms. As Biden was announcing his 2024 candidacy, Harris was giving a fiery speech at a reproductive freedom rally at her alma mater, Howard University. She blasted “extremist so-called leaders” for passing restrictive abortion bans.
- Voting rights: Harris has been at the forefront of the Biden/Harris Administration’s pursuit to codify voting rights protections. She pushed for Congress to pass the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act, which would extend the protections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and require federal approval for certain tainted local election law changes. Ultimately, her work “hit a brick wall” when Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and the now independent Sen. Krysten Sinema (Arizona) rejected proposed changes to Senate procedures to stop a Republican filibuster.
- Immigration and the southern border: Harris continues to work on the “Central American Forward” initiative that has yielded more than $4.2 billion in private sector commitments to support creating local jobs and other measures to slow the flow of mass migration.
- Artificial intelligence (AI): VP Harris and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy convened a distinguished group of leaders from across sectors, including healthcare, academia, industry, and patient advocacy, for a discussion on how artificial intelligence (AI) can be safely deployed to improve health outcomes for all Americans. Based on Harris’ leadership in this area, President Biden was able to issue a landmark Executive Order to ensure that America leads the way in seizing the promise and managing the risks of artificial intelligence (AI).
In choosing Kamala Harris as his governing partner and co-candidate for 2024, Joe Biden has shown that he considers the ability to govern and the capacity for collaboration as must-have qualities in his running mate. He has shown that he views Vice President Harris not as a political pawn but as a leadership powerhouse.
With all the hand-wringing over Biden’s age, political commentator and Pulitzer Prize winning author, Thomas Friedman opines that Harris will face heightened “scrutiny” over whether she is ready to step into the top job if necessary, saying,“Biden needs to make the case to his party and, more important, to independents and moderate Republicans — why Harris is the best choice to succeed him.”
Help make the case for Vice President Kamala Harris continuing her strong leadership on multiple policy issues by sharing this toolkit.
DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks. If you appreciate our content, please consider a small monthly donation.