Kamala Harris is the only Democratic primary candidate with experience in all levels of elected government.
Damian Richardson is the chair of the Harvard College Democrats for Kamala Executive Board.
The evidence is mounting. Donald Trump has repeatedly and openly solicited the services of foreign governments to investigate his political opponents and interfere in the 2020 election. This president is lawless, unpatriotic, and dangerous.
Unlike proceedings in a courtroom, however, Donald Trump’s removal from office will depend not on evidence, but on politics. And the most likely outcome of the impeachment inquiry is that the hyper-partisan Senate will fail to remove him from office. That is why we need a fighter on the 2020 general election debate stage — someone who can successfully prosecute the case against four more years of Donald Trump.
While imagining Kamala Harris on the debate stage next to Donald Trump excites us and most Democrats, we are equally excited for how Kamala will govern this country. She is the only presidential candidate with experience in all levels of elected government — local, state, and federal — as well as in two executive positions. This experience is reflected in her 3AM agenda, which addresses the issues that keep Americans up at night, including healthcare, the rising cost of living, job security, and student debt. Her agenda is bold, but most importantly, it is actionable.
For Kamala, this fight is not about ideology. It is about delivering for the American people. As a United States Senator, Kamala knows how difficult it is to bypass the filibuster — a procedural rule in the Senate requiring a three-fifths vote to pass most pieces of legislation. And because the president has no power over the rules of the Senate, Kamala knows that the next president must be strong in the face of a stagnant Congress. That is why those policies requiring immediate action — such as gun safety measures, protecting our Dreamers, holding polluters accountable, and lowering prescription drug prices — will rest on Kamala’s executive authority, rather than on 60 votes in the Senate.
Kamala is used to being an executive. Prior to being elected a Senator, she served as the Attorney General of California — the executive of the second-largest Department of Justice in the Country, second only to the United States Department of Justice. She was both the first woman and the first racial minority to ascend to this role. Given that 95 percent of elected prosecutors in this country are white and 83 percent are male, having voices like Kamala’s in the system is vital, and it will continue to be vital in the fight for meaningful criminal justice reform. It matters not just for representation, but for equal justice under the law.
Kamala has spent her entire career doing the hard work of reforming the criminal justice system. As District Attorney of San Francisco, she created Back on Track, one of the country’s first recidivism and re-entry programs, diverting low-level drug offenders from prison to job training and high school completion programs. This program was designated a national model by the National District Attorneys Association and has been replicated across the country. As Attorney General of California, Kamala piloted the first ever training on implicit bias and procedural justice for California’s police officers. In the wake of the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Kamala became the first statewide official to mandate that her law enforcement officials wear body cameras and keep them on. Kamala also launched the first ever open data portal on key metrics of the criminal justice system, including police misconduct. Kamala cleared California’s rape kit backlog within a year of taking office. And in 2004, long before it was politically popular, Kamala was officiating same-sex marriages while other Democrats were debating civil unions. Throughout her career, Kamala has taken on sex offenders, big polluters, for-profit colleges, and predatory banks, winning justice as well as billions of dollars back for the American people.
Was Kamala able to accomplish everything that she wanted to? Was she able to undo 400 years of oppression and weaponization of the law against Black and brown Americans? No. But she undoubtedly won major victories for racial and economic justice in California that reverberated across the nation. There is no denying that the criminal justice system is fairer because Kamala entered into a system that she knew was steeped in oppression and reformed it from within.
Kamala is a new type of candidate. She is the daughter of immigrants, a proud product of a historically Black university, the second Black female United States Senator, and the first South-Asian Senator. She represents the face of America, and she is inspiring new and exciting kinds of participation. We see it on Twitter, we see it in our trips to New Hampshire, and we see it in our own executive board. From Kamala’s majority-female and majority-minority team of senior staffers to our own majority-female and majority-minority student executive board, we are proud that Kamala’s candidacy is uniquely powered by a diverse America.
Image Source: Flickr / Gage Skidmore