Down goes Kamala Harris

Samuel Ogali, Courier Staff

When California Senator Kamala Harris first announced her presidential bid, especially on Martin Luther King Jr. day, her candidacy for me felt very symbolic.

A female candidate of both Jamaican & Indian descent from the biggest state in the country seemed like a formidable candidate for president in 2020. Unfortunately, as the race started to move on, Harris’campaign slowly began to unravel and eventually lead to her departure.

When Harris first announced her candidacy, she was greeted with over 20,000 enthusiastic supporters who came to her announcement rally in Oakland, Calif. Harris’ campaign seemed fresh, energized and embodied the kind of diverse candidate many people wanted, but as the race began to take shape throughout 2019, towards the end, Harris’ support slowly started to dwindle until she was in the low single digits.

A reason for this may be the fact that Harris’ underestimated the amount of black support Joe Biden would be able to sustain. In the first debate, Harris went after Biden’s stance on federalized public school busing and even saw an increase in her support afterwards, but throughout the entire year, Biden’s support among older black voters in particular has not significantly shifted and Bernie Sanders’ support among younger black voters seemed formidable, leaving Harris with the little support from the group that she needed the most.

Another reason is the fact that she’s a former prosecutor and doesn’t have the best record when it comes to it. In a time when there is so much angst against the criminal justice system, making the case to elect a prosecutor is a hard sell for people. Instances when Harris was District Attorney of San Francisco or California Attorney General only cast suspicion when her stances of jailing parents for truancy was exposed and publicly being against marijuana as A.G. didn’t help, as well. Her response when criticized for her past stances were only met with a stern defense of being a good prosecutor by her and her campaign.

An important reason why Harris eventually plateaued is the fact that she really didn’t have a core message or core policy proposals. Her stance on medicare for all was very confusing to people after she wrestled with the question of whether private insurance under her plan would stay or be eliminated and the fact that she got outshined by a candidate who eventually rose in the ranks like Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren. The field of candidates was simply too big to not have an explicit set of ideas and proposals.

In the end, Kamala Harris still has a bright future ahead of herself and even though her candidacy for president didn’t succeed, the symbolism of her candidacy as a woman of color running for president will surely not be forgotten.