There are many good choices Joe Biden has from which to pick his vice president. But there is one who stands out from the crowd: Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). She has the credentials that are crucial for the job and she is ready to serve on day one.
Harris has been vetted in a national campaign and represents the next generation of leaders. There are many factors that set her apart from some of the other choices, including that she is the child of immigrants. Her mother immigrated to the United States from India and her father from Jamaica. Her mother is a breast-cancer scientist who earned her doctorate from UC Berkeley and her father is an Emeritus Professor of Economics at Stanford.
Harris was born in Oakland. She did her undergraduate work at Howard University, an HBCU, in Washington, D.C. She has her law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of Law. She began a stellar career with the Alameda County, California District Attorney’s Office. From there she was recruited to the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office and then the City Attorney’s Office in San Francisco.
In 2004, she won election as District Attorney of San Francisco. She served with distinction and it was in that office she began her career-long support of the LGBTQ community by creating a special Hate Crimes Unit, focusing on hate crimes against LGBTQ children and teens in schools. In 2010, she ran and was elected Attorney General of the State of California. During that campaign she promised to refuse to defend Proposition 8, the ban on gay marriage in California — a promise she kept. She won a close election but was reelected in 2014 by a wide margin. As attorney general she managed an office employing more than 4,500 people. As AG she prioritized environmental concerns and won millions of dollars for the state in doing so. She started a new agency within her office called the Bureau of Children’s Justice to address issues such as foster care, the juvenile justice system, school truancy, and childhood trauma.
In 2016, she ran and won election as United States senator to the seat previously held by Barbara Boxer. When she was sworn in on Jan. 3, 2017, she became the first U.S. senator of both Indian and Jamaican descent.
As a senator, she has spoken out against Trump’s racist, sexist and homophobic policies; voted against his unqualified nominees; and supported legislation to help improve the lives of the poor and disenfranchised. Harris is a member of the Budget Committee, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Select Committee on Intelligence and the Committee on the Judiciary.
This background allows voters to feel totally comfortable were anything to happen to the president that Kamala Harris would be ready on day one to step in. With Vice President Biden being 78 years old that is an important factor in his choice.
Add to this Harris one-on-one is an amazing person to meet and chat with. I have been honored to have that chance a couple of times. She lights up a room with her intelligence and her ability to hone in on issues of importance to people.
Her empathy and sense of the need to include all make a great complement to those traits in Biden. When sharing her vision for the future, it’s clear she has a grasp of history and understands how our past will influence our future. How we will never have equality unless all people have equality. She clearly understands how systemic racism keeps many African Americans from succeeding and as a Black woman she understands how sexism is still rampant in our nation. As a person of color, with a knowledge of and experience in local, state and the federal government, she will be able to work closely with and help Biden fulfill the pledges he is making to the nation; to fight for real equality both judicial and economic for Black and Brown persons; and to fight for full equality for women and for the LGBTQ community.
Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.