I am going to preface this by saying that among the many frontrunners at the beginning of the Democratic Primary, Kamala Harris was one of my least favorite options. Much of this feeling was based off of her spotty record as a Prosecutor and Attorney General of California. She has a record of supporting the prison system. Notably, her office declined to allow an incarcerated transgender woman to undergo gender reassignment surgery and required her to remain in a male penitentiary. In fact, her record probably had to do with a bump in private prison stock after her selection as Biden’s running mate. Her record as a Senator though could not be any more different. She has become one of, if not the biggest advocate for overhauling the criminal justice system. Harris supports the Green New Deal and has a healthcare plan which closely borders Medicare for All. Just looking at her Senate record, Harris is far and away the most progressive Vice-Presidential nominee ever.
The thing is, Kamala Harris is a person. Over the years, it is fair to say that her ideas have evolved, as do those of most people. She has faults and, in the past, has held questionable positions. It is okay to criticize her and any other politician. Harris has some of the most vocal supporters online, known as the Khive, many of whom will attack any criticism of her with bad faith comments made against Sanders supporters or with fancams, the single most annoying Twitter trend. Running for public office, especially in a position that is one heartbeat away from becoming the leader of the free world, opens you up to criticism. Harris knows this and has been pretty open about her past in interviews. People should not be going out of their way to defend her past actions. Harris has a job and it is to represent her constituents. She, like her other 99 colleagues in the US Senate are among the most powerful people in the country and should be under constant scrutiny. It is healthy for democracy to be questioning our representatives’ policies and motivations. A functioning democracy requires open discourse and the ability for a citizenry to remove a representative from office that no longer represents them. Stanning Harris or any other politician only serves to cement a cult of personality that is inherently unhealthy for an elective body.
This is also not a critique of people who see themselves in Harris. Representation is vital in politics and Harris is the first Asian American and Black woman to be on a major party presidential ticket. It is historic, no doubt, and is a great thing for any little black or brown girl who sees a little bit of Kamala in themselves. Hell, I wrote an article about what Bernie Sanders’ campaign meant to me as a Jewish American. It is good to feel connected to someone who is supposed to be fighting for you. Again though, it is fair to criticize Harris and Sanders. The same goes for
Elizabeth Warren’s staffers who got the Liberty Green Hex code tattooed into their arm in just, the dumbest way. Be inspired by a politician, sure, but their work is not infallible. An informed voter must have ever evolving views about a candidate.
This same attitude reminds me of the rehabilitation of George W(ar criminal) Bush and Mittens Romney. If a Republican make an effort to come out against the President, liberals tend to laud them as some hero of democracy. Eight years ago, Romney was regarded as an extreme religious conservative by many. Back on the campaign trail in 2012, he made a joke about Obama’s birth certificate, a racist and absurd storyline that has been following Kamala over the last few days. Now that he voted to remove Trump from office, the only Republican Senator to do so, shows the shift to the right for the party. This is not something that should be celebrated. Romney did his job to uphold the United States Constitution. He is not a hero. Just because George Bush has suddenly turned into a mediocre painter who celebrates the contributions of immigrants, does not take away from the fact that the War on Terror has killed 250,000 civilians. Idolizing politicians, no matter what, will lead to what we are seeing now with the conflict surrounding the evil and racist tendencies of our founders such as Washington and Jefferson. Accomplishments should be celebrated but mythologizing the individual is dangerous.
It is beyond time we stop putting politicians up on a pedestal. They are people yes, but incredibly privileged ones who deserve as many valid criticisms get thrown at them. A job with as much power as a Senator or Vice President needs to be filled by someone who has the interest of their constituents at heart. I believe that Senator Harris does, and she is immensely qualified. That does not mean that she should be beyond scrutiny. It also means that when she runs for president in 2024 after a single Biden term, she must be primaried. Democrats must not fall into an anti-democratic trap, a trend I am beginning to see online, solely out of fear of whatever ticket the Republicans are surely in the process of putting together.