NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE T he New York Times contends that Joe Biden’s vice-presidential pick Kamala Harris is a “pragmatic moderate,” which is either the usual misleading bias or a sign that the Overton Window is about to fall off the edge of the political spectrum. To judge Harris by her own words and deeds is to be confronted by a candidate who is more antagonistic towards the Constitution than perhaps any to appear on a presidential ticket in modern times — and maybe ever.
The fact that Harris will say and do anything for power is evident in her very acceptance of Biden’s offer. It’s going to be fascinating to watch Harris explain why she is running with man who only months ago she strongly insinuated was a racist. “There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day, and that little girl was me,” Harris explained, as she hit Biden on his history of working with segregationists to oppose busing laws in the 1970s.
It will be even more fascinating to hear the moral calculus Harris employs to rationalize running with a rapist. This isn’t George Bush and Ronald Reagan making up after tussling on “voodoo economics.” Concerning allegations of sexual misconduct against Joe Biden, Harris once said, “I believe them, and I respect them being able to tell their story and having the courage to do it.” One of the women Harris was referring to was Tara Reade, whom accused Biden of sexually assaulting her in 1993, when she worked as an aide for the then Delaware senator. “I believe them” doesn’t lend it itself to much interpretation.
Harris’s political use of personal destruction isn’t surprising. How will those who claim to be appalled by Trump’s revolting attacks suggesting Joe Scarborough had something to do with his intern’s death in 2001 explain their support for the woman who entered Julie Swetnick’s completely unsubstantiated claims of gang rape against Brett Kavanaugh into the congressional record?
In style and policy, Harris epitomizes an authoritarian. It is not hyperbole to contend that Harris favors strict obedience to authority, especially that of the government, at the expense of personal freedom.
It was Harris who promised that if elected president, she would give Congress 100 days “to get their act together and have the courage to pass reasonable gun safety laws, and if they fail to do it, then I will take executive action.” Where would Harris derive the power to ignore the Supreme Court and simply ban the import of certain guns — which she has promised to do — or even pass euphemistic “gun safety laws” without the consent of Congress? When Biden brought up this quandary, Harris answered, “I would just say, ‘Hey, Joe, instead of saying no we can’t, let’s say yes we can!’”
Harris isn’t joking. If Congress fails gets its act together on progressive environmental policy, the California senator promises that “as president of the United States, I am prepared to get rid of the filibuster to pass a Green New Deal.” What’s worse? That Harris believes she can get rid of the filibuster, or that she supports a policy that calls for the banning of all fossil fuels, 99 percent of cars and planes, and meat-eating, among many other nonsensical regulations, within the next decade?
In addition, Harris supports the partisan packing of the Supreme Court to circumvent constitutional oversight as well as religious tests for public office, once suggesting that now District Court judge Brian Buescher was unfit for office because he was a member of the charitable Knights of Columbus, “an all-male society comprised primarily of Catholic men.”
Harris supported throwing 160 million Americans off of their private insurance, whether they choose to be thrown off or not. “Let’s eliminate all of that,” she said. “Let’s move on.” She later risibly alleged that she had misheard the debate question on health care.
None of this even considers Harris’s work as a prosecutor, which tells us much about how she wields power.
It will be quite the historical curiosity, I’m certain, that the 2020 Democratic Party of “defund the police” and Black Lives Matter nominated two people whose polices have directly and drastically increased the incarceration of African Americans. Biden famously led a decades-long legislative effort, culminating in his co-writing the 1994 crime bill that critics claim was the impetus for mass incarceration that disproportionately affects African Americans.
The problem with Harris wasn’t necessarily that she was a tough-on-crime attorney general — though, for any idealistic progressive, it should be — but rather that she was habitually abusing and expanding her power. Harris opposed California laws requiring her office investigate shootings involving officers — which sounds pretty topical to me. Harris also has a long history of unlawful convictions.
Here is Lara Bazelon, director of the Criminal Juvenile Justice and Racial Justice Clinical Programs, in the New York Times, writing when Harris was only a primary candidate about a particularly appalling case involving the moderate pragmatist from California:
Consider her record as San Francisco’s district attorney from 2004 to 2011. Ms. Harris was criticized in 2010 for withholding information about a police laboratory technician who had been accused of “intentionally sabotaging” her work and stealing drugs from the lab. After a memo surfaced showing that Ms. Harris’s deputies knew about the technician’s wrongdoing and recent conviction, but failed to alert defense lawyers, a judge condemned Ms. Harris’s indifference to the systemic violation of the defendants’ constitutional rights.
Ms. Harris contested the ruling by arguing that the judge, whose husband was a defense attorney and had spoken publicly about the importance of disclosing evidence, had a conflict of interest. Ms. Harris lost. More than 600 cases handled by the corrupt technician were dismissed.
There is no power Harris has held that she hasn’t abused. And considering Biden’s age and questions about his cognitive abilities — issues already part of the presidential campaign — it’s likely that Harris’s record will hold more importance than the typical vice-presidential candidate. This will be especially so for those who still believe in basic small-l liberal ideals. To that end, there is a good chance that Harris will do more to motivate Republicans than excite Democrats.