The list of potential 2020 Democratic contenders against President Donald Trump continues to grow.
The latest name to be added is California’s newest senator, former California attorney general, Kamala Harris.
She is the senator who caused Attorney General Jeff Sessions to get all flustered during his Senate Intelligence Committee hearing about interactions with Russian officials while serving as a campaign surrogate to Donald Trump.
Although a new face still lacking mainstream attention, she is quickly becoming a popular figure in a Democratic party still unsure of the direction it should go to take back the White House.
Being a woman of color–half Jamaican, half Indian–some see her as someone who can unite minority voters who might feel disenfranchised after Trump’s election.
She is also using the obligatory rhetoric of someone willing to challenge the party establishment.
She told a reporter for Yahoo News the Democratic party must enter election season with a message “much bigger” than simply resisting Donald Trump.
“The issues are not simple, so the message is not going to be simple. But essentially it’s about telling the American public we see them.”
A key issue for Sen. Harris is criminal justice reform.
People attacked former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she was the Democratic nominee for president for elevating the party’s harsh policies toward increasing mass incarceration at a time when the United States bears 25 percent of the total global incarceration rate, comprised mostly of Black inmates.
Clinton was never able to escape comments she made in 1996 when First Lady:
“The kinds of kids that are called ‘super-predators’, no conscience, no empathy. We can talk about why they ended up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel.”
Kamala Harris wants states to reform bail systems that lock low-income defendants in jail before their trials because of an inability to pay. She also wishes to see a system that treats incarcerated women with more dignity, such as providing them with free tampons and calls home to their children.
Democrats are often accused of being “soft on crime,” particularly in the age of Trump–the “law and order” president.
Being a former attorney general of one the country’s most diverse and populace states, though, Harris emphasizes her willingness to incarcerate violent offenders, and frames her appeal for criminal justice reform in both moral and economic terms. She cites her approach to San Francisco children’s truancy as successful through “being the bad guy” and deciding “to start prosecuting parents for truancy.”
“I’m going to tell you, half the city threw tomatoes at me.”
Jamira Burley is a criminal justice reform advocate who worked on Hillary Clinton’s efforts to bring out more millennial voters in November. She said young activists are excited about Harris, and share clips of Harris on social media. Harris’s presence in national office also “allows women of color to dream bigger.”
“I would like her to talk more about the movement for black lives.”
As far as Harris is willing to go to reform a broken criminal justice infrastructure, some argue she may not go far enough.
Andrea James is the founder of the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls. While praising Harris’s focus on criminal justice reform, she feels Harris can do more.
“We have to end incarceration of women and girls. We have to move beyond making prisons ‘better’ for women.”
Which Democrat will we be contemplating next week?
Regardless of who takes on Trump (or Pence) in 2020, it’s going to be a very interesting campaign season.
Featured image from YouTube video.