|2020 Election:||Joe Biden's book||Cory Booker's book||Pete Buttigieg's book||Kamala Harris' book||Bernie Sanders' book||Donald Trump's book||2018 Senate Debates|
The Truths We Hold
An American Journey,
by Kamala Harris
(Click for Amazon book review)
BOOK REVIEW by OnTheIssues.org:
This book is Kamala Harris' introduction of herself to voters, accompanying her announcement for the presidency early in 2019. Harris outlines her views on domestic issues at length, but foreign policy issues only sparingly (presumably there'll be a big foreign policy speech sometime later in the 2020 campaign, and perhaps another book).
We will discuss here whether the book substantiates Kamala's campaign slogan, "For the People" -- that's the title of chapter one of this book, and the slogan that appears as the title tag of her campaign website. The slogan is what Kamala said in court countless times, as the public prosecutor, when identifying herself in a case in which she represented the state of California (as in "John Smith for the defendant" vs. "Kamala Harris, for the people" which really means "for the state"). But it also has populist overtones, as in "I am for the people against big business". This book well-exemplifies Harris' populist credentials, but not her progressive credentials. Our VoteMatch rating of Kamala Harris scores her as a "Populist-Leaning Liberal", which this book substantiates.
We explored the progressive aspects of this book, along with Harris' 2009 book, Smart on Crime. Harris calls herself a "progressive prosecutor" and we pointed out that she is not progressive on criminal justice issues at all. But we'd like to provide some context -- because all of the Democratic candidates are equally imperfect on progressive credentials -- those who claim to be progressives as well as those who don't. We summarize the Democratic primary frontrunners' stances in terms of whether they toe the line on progressive issues:
Every one of the frontrunner candidates has some anti-progressive stances; and every major issue includes some Demcoratic candidates who aren't progressive. We note that Joe Biden and some others never call themselves progressives -- but Kamala Harris does. And we omit several issues on which all of the candidates agree -- such as: pro-ObamaCare; pro-immigration; anti-voter suppression; pro-green energy; pro-federal stimulus -- those are President Trump's and the Republican Party's big issues so the Democrats are all consistent. (You can click on the candidates' names to see the issue stance lists on which we based our summary).
Bottom line: Kamala Harris is a pretty good progressive, not the most progressive among the Demcoratic frontrunners, but not the worst. For progressive voters whose key issue is criminal justice reform, Harris is unacceptably non-progressive, as we explore in our book review of Smart on Crime. Similarly, for progressive voters whose key issue is public education, Cory Booker is unacceptably non-progressive -- but he is a pretty good progressive on other issues. Democratic progressive voters should define their own core issue and support a candidate who matches their priorities -- there are plenty to choose from in 2020!
-- Jesse Gordon, jesse@OnTheIssues.org, editor-in-chief of OnTheIssues, March 2019
An American Journey,
by Kamala Harris.
SECOND BOOK REVIEW by OnTheIssues.org:
Kamala Harris is a palatable candidate for middle-class voters. She is likeable to young voters. She gets some criticism from her past as a prosecutor but has defended herself somewhat well in the Recent CNN Town Hall regarding that. She listed all the actions she has taken towards prison reform and protecting those most vulnerable in our justice system and included was her efforts towards Bail Reform. She concluded her list of what she did to bring reform as prosecutor by saying that the she agrees the justice system is broken still and in serious need of reform, and saying "Do I wish I could have done more? Absolutely". She handled the criticism well and by referencing things she had actually done to make a difference, and by validating the concern presented. In Truths We Hold, she brings up her efforts toward bail reform. "In 2017, I introduced a bill in the Senate to encourage states to replace their bail systems, moving away from arbitrarily assigning cash bail and systems where a person's actual risk of danger or flight is evaluated. If someone poses a threat to the public, we should detain them. If someone is likely to flee, we should detain them. But if not, we shouldn't be in the business of charging money for liberty". (Page 65)
Her proposed Bail Reform is not unlike what Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the New York legislature are having trouble with right now. The N.Y. reform has been postponed, because the question remains of determining how a judge should determine how dangerous or threat to public safety that a person is before their trial. It is a question that lawmakers and Cuomo are stuck on yet working out a solution to.
"Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers are still trying to decide whether judges in New York will be able to assess a defendant's alleged dangerousness, or threat to public safety, as a factor for detaining that person before their trial date" (Law.com, March 2019)
I feel that bail reform should be tested on a state by state level before going national, there is a lot that goes into making the transition from one system to another. I feel that when dealing with crime, it is better to be safe and propose this reform prudently to make sure that the public is kept out of harm's way. I am not doubting that bail reform would work. It sounds like a great idea and I think it is something that needs to happen. The only question is the logistics of such reform, which I feel that it would be responsible to wait and see what these logistics are in New York's bail reform and the results of such, before bringing this to a national level.
Student Loans are a prominent issue to me and a large number of young voters. She doesn't talk about it in Truths We Hold, but she does answer a question on student loans at the recent CNN town hall. When asked about what she would do with student loan debt she answered that we need to allow people to refinance their student loans and also that the Financial Aid process needs to be refined. I do believe in further reform, but what she proposed at least is an improvement from where we are now but is far away from where we need to be.
What really sticks out to me is the position she takes on marijuana in Truths We Hold:
This is a direct contrast to her actions as Attorney General:
Harris claimed on a radio interview for the show The Breakfast Club to have smoked marijuana while listening to Tupac and Snoop Dog. Having graduated from college in 1986, while Tupac and Snoop dog still had not yet released their debut albums, her claim was proven to be untrue by factual evidence. She was most likely just trying to appeal to younger voters and cover up her past as an anti-marijuana prosecutor. Being caught in an obvious lie not a good look for a political candidate. If she lied about that, what else would she lie about?
She brought harsher policy for drug offenders and increased the amount of convictions of drug dealers nearly 20 percent. Now that she is running for president, she is saying that nonviolent marijuana-related offenses should be expunged and marijuana should be legalized. That's a complete turnaround from her actions in her past. Sounds to me she is trying to increase her appeal by saying things that she thinks people want to hear, or she feels guilty for ruining lives of non-violent marijuana related drug offenders in her past. The moving back and forth on an issue like that, especially when she is talking about cleaning up a mess that she directly had a hand in creating, makes me not trust a thing she says at all.
Page last edited: Aug 11, 2019