Why Won’t the Left Give Kamala Harris the Respect She Deserves?

Art by TL Duryea

I have lived in California for decades and proudly voted for Kamala Harris numerous times. I think she is brilliant, powerful, dynamic, and fierce. I’m a longtime supporter.

That doesn’t mean I think she’s perfect or incapable of making mistakes. Far from it. She’s human and flawed, just like the rest of us. Although I hate that I even have to say this. When was the last time we said that about a man?

Yet Kamala has received non-stop criticism from the Left ever since she was elected to the Senate in 2016.

Her media coverage and social media commentary for the past four years has been relentlessly negative, filled with misinformation and never-ending accusations. Which is pretty perplexing when you compare her to other former prosecutors who’ve also run for president, like John Edwards, Eric Swalwell, Jay Inslee, and Amy Klobuchar. Because not only are they all white and almost all men, none of them fought for criminal justice reform.

In other words, the lone black woman, and the only one who even attempted to take on the criminal justice system, is the one who’s gotten the most criticism.

This is why I’m convinced that these accusations are steeped in misogynoir. And it’s why I defend her so passionately. My only regret is that I didn’t write this sooner, back when Kamala first announced her candidacy for President.

Lest you think I’m biased, please read what public defender Niki Solis wrote in a recent op-ed:

“There has been much talk about the time Sen. Kamala Harris spent as a prosecutor. As a public defender for 24 years, I examined, critiqued and battled Harris when she was the San Francisco district attorney. And more often than not, Harris and I were on opposite sides.

Having had this experience, I feel compelled to speak on Harris’ record while she was a district attorney. Simply put, Harris was the most progressive prosecutor in the state.”

Kamala has explained many times that she became a prosecutor so that she could reform the system from within. And by doing so, she inspired other progressive African-Americans to do the same.

Just look at this glowing praise from renowned prosecutor Kim Foxx in 2019:

Now look at this article from 2005, talking about how Kamala inspired Craig Watkins, another equally progressive prosecutor:

“Harris keeps on surprising people with how different she is… She truly believes that almost everyone has the potential and the desire to be better, given the right environment and incentives… She believes in consequences — but also in the power of the second chance. She envisions a world where the vast majority of first-time offenders never commit another crime and ex-felons are able to rejoin their communities, not as dangerous predators, but as good parents and good people. The key, she says, is to enforce “a disciplined kind of process” — authentic support and real accountability — so that second chance isn’t wasted…

Craig Watkins… was elected as the first black DA in Dallas’s history, and he has since been widely hailed for groundbreaking moves like bringing in the Innocence Project to help free inmates wrongfully convicted by his predecessors. “I have to give Kamala credit for getting me to this point,” he declares. “I basically adopted her plan.” After spending a few days at Harris’s office, he wants to start his own versions of community courts and Back on Track. Anyone who can figure out how to sell a new way of thinking about criminal justice to cities as different as San Francisco and Dallas is clearly ready for the big time, he says. “We need a voice like hers at the national level.”

If you want to learn more about why Kamala supports criminal justice reform, I recommend watching this video of her discussing the issue with some of our country’s most brilliant journalists and activists.

Other reasons why I support Kamala: she has always prioritized sex crimes throughout her career. She made a point of clearing the backlog of rape kits when she became DA. She insisted on decriminalizing underage sex workers and re-classifying them as victims of sex trafficking. She fought to make revenge porn and other forms of cyber exploitation illegal.

I also admire her for taking on so many powerful organizations: big banks (for a $20 billion payout during the foreclosure crisis), for-profit charter schools (for a $168 million dollar payout), big polluters on multiple occasions (for amounts ranging from $7-86 million), among many others.

And last but not least, she supports many progressive causes, like M4A, the Green New Deal, a livable wage, among many others. Plus, she has one of the most progressive voting records in the Senate.

Now, again, I am aware of the numerous accusations against Kamala. I’m not going to attempt to address each and every one, because that would take all day. But if you would like to do some research, I highly recommend Reecie Colbert (aka @BlackWomenViews) as a resource. She has compiled some incredibly impressive Twitter threads, Medium articles and YouTube videos addressing them. Courtney Swanson also addresses many of them in this fantastic Medium article.

Of course, I know that many of you are (justifiably) suspicious of getting your information from sources like Medium, Twitter, etc. You may even be suspicious of this very article. But please note that Colbert, Swanson and I cite our sources, which are legitimate and reputable. All you have to do is click on them to see for yourself. If you are still suspicious after you’ve checked, maybe ask yourself why?

Why is it so hard to trust us? Why is it so hard to trust Kamala?

And most importantly, why focus on this, when we are trying to defeat Trump?

I really have to wonder why so many people on the Left are determined to destroy Kamala Harris. If we want to hold her and Biden accountable for their campaign promises after they’re elected, I’m on board. But right now, they are our only hope, if we want to save our democracy. The alternative is much too grim and dystopian for me to even imagine.

I think you’ll be happy to discover, however, that Kamala is not just the “lesser of two evils.” She is actually an amazing candidate, that we’d be lucky to have as Vice President.

You just have to look past the misogynoir to see it.