Kamala Harris reimagines herself as a ‘progressive prosecutor’

SACRAMENTO – For most presidential candidates, the path to the White House is a decades-long technique of rising by the political ranks, establishing alliances and elevating money. A few candidates might stand up and say, “Heck, I’m going to run for the presidency,” nonetheless most extreme contenders are pushed by lifelong ambition. Our president is an exception, nonetheless, that solely reminds us of the rule.

Kamala Harris clearly has had lofty ambitions for years as she moved from San Francisco district lawyer to California lawyer regular to our state’s junior U.S. senator. She is not perhaps dismissed as a longshot after her worthwhile Democratic debate displaying and rising numbers throughout the polls. As Joe Biden appears to be like yesterday’s data, Harris now’s amongst these candidates with an actual shot for the nomination.

This has to be a troubling prospect not only for conservatives, nonetheless for the progressive wing of Harris’ social gathering. It additionally must disturb this whose necessary function is to change the current White House occupant. Donald Trump may want an otherworldly sense of actuality (it is irrespective of he says it is), nonetheless, Harris is pitching a fastidiously constructed narrative that seems to be at odds with the file.

Forget about all her predictable liberal positions. Every Democratic candidate goes to vow a bevy of lefty insurance coverage insurance policies, ranging from “free” well-being care to loosened immigration restrictions. To gauge the character of each candidate, voters ought to have a take a look at how everybody behaved within the prior office. They should look askance at last-minute conversions.

Biden, for instance, supported a battle in Iraq that was well-liked on the time, nonetheless now’s thought-about as a disaster. He authored a crime bill that ramped up sentences. Both measures had been the merchandise of the time, nonetheless, they current Biden to be a go-along, get-along man. Likewise, Harris spent her occupation as a prosecutor, and there’s no indication she was one thing nonetheless an enthusiastic backer of the law-and-order established order.

That’s a necessary concern, as a result of criminal-justice reform now’s a core concern of the Democratic base. It’s not solely Democrats. President Trump remaining yr signed a justice-reform bill. Many Republicans agree the nation’s tough-on-crime insurance coverage insurance policies, created when the priority of crime was a prime concern, have gone too far. The pendulum has swung once more dramatically inside a remaining couple of years.

Harris now depicts herself as a “progressive prosecutor,” who’ve made picks based totally on her sense of justice. But as professor Lara Bazelon opined throughout the New York Times earlier this yr, “Time after time, when progressives urged her to embrace criminal justice reform…, Ms. Harris opposed them or stayed silent.” She “fought tooth and nail to uphold wrongful convictions that had been secured through official misconduct that included evidence tampering, false testimony and the suppression of crucial information by prosecutors.”

I nonetheless recall that video of Harris laughing as she recounts telling her coworkers to “look really mean” as soon as they threatened to ship a poor mother to jail attributable to her children’ truancy. Harris now strikes the proper progressive stances, nonetheless, all through her occupation, she acted like a tried-and-true drug warrior. There’s no proof that she in any method resisted the zeitgeist.

“By 2005, Harris was also turning against the city’s decade-old Drug Court, which allowed some people arrested on nonviolent possession and small-time sales charges to go to a city-run addiction treatment program…,” wrote Reason’s Elizabeth Nolan Brown. Harris now says she would decriminalize prostitution, nonetheless, Brown notes, “As a prosecutor, she ramped up stings in immigrant communities… spread misinformation about human trafficking ignored sexual misconduct by police and aggressively targeted websites where sex workers advertised.”

Harris defended the death penalty in courtroom (although she personally opposes it), resisted releasing a man the Innocence Project found to not have been accountable, backed expanded asset forfeiture (whereby police confiscate property even when its proprietor wasn’t convicted of any crime), and seemingly served as the cat’s paw for police unions. Perhaps some conservatives will most likely be cheered by this file, nonetheless, that’s not the aim. It’s that her earlier actions bear no resemblance to her new persona.

My concept is she served as a prosecutor in an interval when law-and-order insurance coverage insurance policies had been well-liked. She wasn’t going to cross a few of the strongest lobbies throughout the state. This technique would inoculate her from the first “soft on crime” jab that conservatives hurl in the direction of liberals, nonetheless then a humorous issue occurred on one of the best ways to the presidency. The criminal-justice paradigm shifted shortly and unexpectedly, so now she’s left reimagining most of her political occupation.

Harris’ current claims about her occupation converse volumes about her nature. She’s obtained criticism from progressives who’re extreme about justice reform, however, it’s not preserving her from the prize. That’s basically probably the most depressing lesson. A candidate can utterly rewrite her file regardless that that file is simple to have a look at – and pay no apparent worth for it throughout the polls.

Steven Greenhut is Western space director for the R Street Institute. He was a Register editorial writer from 1998-2009. Write to him at sgreenhut@rstreet.org.

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