Kamala Harris & Her Policies: The Cheat Sheet

On the 3rd of November, the people of the United States will decide its next President of the United States. The candidates: Donald Trump—the man who, just in the last few weeks, visited where Jacob Blake was shot in Kenosha, Milwaukee and thanked police, banned diversity training because its “anti-American,” and encouraged his supporters to (illegally) vote twice (in person and via post)—or Joe Biden.

It’s a no brainer. But while most people might not be excited about the prospect of voting for Biden (rightfully), his partner on the ticket and candidate for Vice President, Kamala Harris, has shaken things up a little.

But, who exactly is Kamala Harris and what are her policies and views on things like police brutality, climate change and more? Keep scrolling to find out.

Who Is Kamala Harris?

According to The Cut, Kamala Harris is a 55-year-old accomplished politician and “progressive prosecutor” (her words), and previously California’s Attorney General and San Francisco’s District Attorney. Compared to other candidates, Harris is seen as a centrist Democrat, and someone who “will not push Biden to the left or the right on major policy issues,” according to a U.S. finance executive, via CNBC.

But, more importantly, her running as the Democratic Vice President Candidate makes her the first Black and South Asian woman to run in a major party role, and, if elected in come November, would be the first Black and South Asian person to become Vice President of the United States. And, if she ever did take over for Biden or even go on to win the 2024 election, would be the first woman, Black woman and South Asian person to become President of the United States.

Kamala Harris’ policies and views

What are Kamala Harris’ policies on policing and criminal justice?

When it comes to policing and criminal justice, Harris’ stance is quite mixed.

During her presidential campaign in 2019, she vowed to end private prisons and mandatory minimums, the criminalisation of marijuana, the death penalty and solitary confinement.

But, in 2010, she sponsored a law that would punish parents whose kids missed more than 10 percent of school with up to a year in jail and $2000 USD in fines. At a presentation in California dubbed, “Smart on Crime: Elevating the Discussion in Our City, State and Nation,” Harris allegedly laughed at criticism about the law and how it targeted marginalised families.

According to Vox, “Harris’ supporters argue that the threat of prosecution was used only in extreme truancy cases, involving weeks or months of missed class, and only after the parents had been offered help with health care and transportation by the school district and other social service agencies. They point to statistics showing that school attendance rates rose in San Francisco after the program went into place, though it’s unclear if the program itself is to credit for the change.”

And, while she has called for reforms to address racism in the criminal justice system during her presidential campaign, The New York Times reported that when Harris was an attorney, she “largely avoided intervening in cases involving killings by the police.”

What are Kamala Harris’ policies on climate change?

When it comes to climate change, Kamala Harris has a pretty sound and sustainable perspective.

In September 2019, she pledged a $10 trillion plan to transition the United States to clean energy in the next ten years—the plan didn’t address fracking but she later told a CNN town hall that she was “in favour of banning fracking.” According to Inside Climate News, the plan is one of the most largest financial commitments by a politician to sort climate action, but it’s still unclear how much would come from the public and private sectors. By contrast, her and Biden’s campaign is now planning for 100 percent clean energy by 2050.

In July, Harris and New York rep (and tbh, Syrup fave) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez proposed a new bill, the Climate Equality Act, and an environmental-justice team to evaluate how environmental crimes disproportionately affect poor communities of colour.

What are Kamala Harris’ policies on healthcare?

Harris is mostly for healthcare, but over the last few years has switched around on which Democratic health care program she actually supports.

In 2017, she was the first prolific Democrat to co-sponsor Senator Bernie Sanders’s Medicare For All legislation, admitting it was “the right thing to do.” Then, in February 2019, she supported a single-payer health care plan that would eradicate private insurance—she was criticised for this decision and her ratings took a bit of a drop after she was questioned for weeks.

Then, in July 2019, she proposed her own healthcare plan called “KamalaCare.” As per Politico, KamalaCare seemed to be a middleman between Sander’s and Biden’s plans, “giving Americans the choice of enrolling in tightly regulated private health insurance plans or picking a public one.” But, Harris was slim on details, including the cost, and “avoided weighing in on the coverage debate” ever since.

What are Kamala Harris’ policies on immigration?

As a child of immigration herself, Kamala Harris is passionate about immigration and supporting diverse and ethnic communities.

During her presidential campaign, she vowed to use her executive powers to reinstate and increase the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program created by former U.S. President Barack Obama, which gave 650,000 immigrants who came to the U.S. as children the legal right to live and work there. In June, the Trump administration announced it wasn’t accepting any new DACA applicants and aimed to dismantle it.

She was also, according to Politico, “one of just three Democrats to oppose a compromise that would have given the Trump administration billions of dollars for a border wall in exchange for a path to citizenship for Dreamers [DACA applicants].”

In 2018, Harris joined protests against the Trump admin’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy which increased the separation of immigrant families. She also called for the resignation of the head of Homeland Security at the time who was responsible for the family separation, Kirstjen Nielsen.

What are Kamala Harris’ policies on LGBTQIA+ issues?

Throughout her career, Kamala Harris made decisions that have both positively and negatively affected the LGBTQIA+ community.

When she was first elected as DA in San Francisco, she intiatied a task force against anti-LGBTQIA+ violence and strongly encouraged the marriage equality debate.

And, in 2018, she introduced the Gay and Trans Panic Defense Prohibition Act of 2018, which banned the use of “gay panic” and “trans panic” as a means of defence against acts of violence towards LGBTQIA+ people in federal court. For reference, in South Australia, “gay panic” is still disgracefully a valid form of defence in the eyes of the law.

But, during her time as Attorney General, Harris allegedly denied gender reassignment surgery for a trans inmate, justifying her reasoning as merely “following the existing law.

What are Kamala Harris’ policies on education?

Kamala Harris is ultimately against for-profit colleges and generally supports a free education for all… but her actual policies have been a bit unambitious.

She’s previously supported bills for free college education, including the College For All Act in 2017 and Debt-Free College Act in 2018. And, she’s strongly advocated for Borrower Defense to Repayment, a program that aims to provide relief to student loan borrowers defrauded by their schools.

During her democratic campaign, she proposed a plan that would see up to $20,000 of student loans cancelled for people who’ve established new businesses in underserved communities. It was heavily criticised for being too limited. She then, according to Forbes, pushed for community colleges to be free and for public colleges to be debt-free, but didn’t explain how she’d accomplish it or was willing to sign Sanders’s proposal to eliminate tuition for community colleges.

Now, she supports a $10,000 for all student loan borrowers as repercussions for the COVID-19 pandemic and related recession, via The Cut.

What are Kamala Harris’ policies on big business?

Kamala Harris is certainly against the threat of big businesses, but her policies focus more on helping the middle class than taxing the rich specifically.

In an interactive interview with The New York Times, she acknowledged that Silicon Valley, the epicentre of big tech giants and multi-millionaires like Jeff Bezos (Amazon) and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), should be regulated but never explicitly called for big tech companies like Amazon or Google to be broken up.

According to The Cut, her big tax proposal focuses on tax relief for the middle class rather than focusing on significantly higher taxes on the wealthy. 

She has also disclosed that while she has accepted campaign contributions from a range of industries, including finance, film and TV, she signed a pledge not to take money from oil and gas companies. 

Julian Rizzo-Smith is a writer and producer. He also claims to be a vine historian, avid connoisseur of low-fi beats, indie hip hop and Kermit memes. In a perfect world, he’d be married to Tyler the Creator, own an Arcanine and a Lapras, and don his own Sailor Scouts uniform. He tweets @GayWeebDisaster, which is also, coincidentally, how one might describe him.