When it was first announced that Joe Biden was running for president, there were mixed responses. People who liked Biden throughout his time as vice president were happy to see he was campaigning, while those who were focused on bringing in a more progressive candidate were not so thrilled. Although he is an experienced politician, the road to the White House has not been easy. Biden’s comments on race, his slip-ups during debates, and allegations of sexual assault have not shown him in the best light, but throughout these concerning setbacks, he was able to continue his campaign and is now the Democratic nominee.
Since June, voters have been waiting to see who Biden would pick as his VP, for two reasons. One, he announced that he would pick a woman, and two, a VP pick is a pivotal stage in a campaign. Who Biden decided to choose could be a make or break moment at the polls. The country received their answer on August 12th when Biden announced his running mate would be Senator Kamala Harris. Although people were waiting for this moment, reactions to the news have ranged from ecstatic to lukewarm.
This particular election is one for the history books. Unlike in 2016, when it was assumed that Hillary Clinton would win, and there would be a Democrat in office for another four years, after these past four years that is not a guarantee. In 2020 our country is divided politically in a way it has never been. People have lost friends, a difference in opinion can lead to explosive arguments, and seeing a red hat in public makes many do a double-take. Harris being Biden’s VP pick only added to this historical time, as she is the first woman of color, and child of two immigrants ever nominated for vice president. This is a moment that has given numerous women of color all over the world the chance to see themselves in a position that has historically been given to white men. Although many see this is as a milestone moment in time, others are not happy with Biden’s choice due to some of Harris’s past decisions.
When Harris herself was running for president, her past as a prosecutor and attorney general was touched on in debates,and now decisions she made during that time are being brought up again, especially with regards of the recent conversations about police brutality and the broken criminal justice system. One of her initiatives was “Back on Track,” which aimed to reduce recidivism among low-level drug-trafficking defendants. Recidivism is a relapse into criminal behavior. This initiative began when she was District Attorney for San Francisco, and it was found that due to the accountability of the program and opportunities for self-improvement, less than 10 percent of its graduates re-offend.
Harris’ anti-truancy policy made it a criminal misdemeanor for parents to allow their children to miss more than 10 percent of school days, without an excuse. Parents of truant children could be fined up to $2000 or jailed with this policy in place. While this policy had good intentions, and was enacted to have parents take more responsibility for their kids, it ended up putting blame on parents whose kids sometimes couldn’t get to school because of circumstances out of their control.
As state attorney general she was able to implement the “adopt a body camera” program which mandated body cameras for cops, with this California became the first statewide agency to do so. Cops wearing body cams is a hot topic of discussion, especially because cops don’t often wear them or turn them off before doing something unlawful. The “adopt a body camera” program is a highlight in Harris’s career. The drawback was that body cameras were not mandatory for all local police officers, just those working directly for Harris.
Harris’s past is a point of contention for some voters. However, lately, she has been vocal on the topic of police misconduct and is one of the Democrats sponsoring policing legislation that would ban chokeholds, racial profiling, and no-knock warrants. This comes on the heels of the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. These recent viewpoints show a glimpse into the type of work she could do as vice president.
One of the more distressing things I have seen after the announcement of Harris being picked as VP is a slew of people saying they won’t vote in the upcoming election. Instead of seeing the Biden/Harris ticket as a way of getting Donald Trump out of office, they feel as though they have to pick between two evils and don’t want to make that choice. As a Black woman who understands that people fought and died for my right to vote, it is upsetting to see this line of thinking actually being seen as right or just.
Director Ava DuVernay recently wrote an Instagram post expressing her thoughts on the election, at one point writing “Vote them in and then let’s hold them accountable. Anything other than that is insanity. It’s ego. It’s against our own interests. It’s selfish. It’s disrespectful to our elders. It’s nonsense. It’s talking to hear yourself talk. This is a matter of life or death. We need all our energy focused. This is a fight for more than can be expressed here. There is no debate anymore. Not for me anyway.”
It is our civic duty to vote and if you can’t vote for yourself vote on behalf of future generations.
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