The Young, Progressive & Kamala Harris

Ryan Brooks, Assistant News Editor

As a 20-year-old Afro-Puerto Rican progressive college student, I’m not the first voter demographic that comes to mind when election experts chart an electoral path for Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden. Rightfully so.

Senator Bernie Sanders overwhelmingly won young voters, especially those in the 18-29 age group, in the Democratic primaries. Along with that, many young, progressive groups have been hostile to Biden’s candidacy.

Still, it is worth acknowledging that the vast majority of Sanders’s supporters, around 80 percent, say that they will back Biden in the fall.

However, that number masks the persistent skepticism felt by many young progressives who believe that Biden will not pursue the policies for which they care so deeply about. The mistrust of these young progressives should not be dismissed especially when, according to a Pew Research study, people between the ages of 18-23 will make up about 10 percent of eligible voters.

Enough to make a difference in battleground states such as Florida and Pennsylvania, which hold large concentrations of these voters in and around cities like Miami and Philadelphia. So, it appears that there is an imperative need for a rational, progressive case to be made for the Biden campaign.

Luckily for Biden, Kamala Harris, his vice-presidential selection, has the potential to be the backbone of this case.

A woman born to Jamaican and Indian immigrants, Mrs. Harris’s path to the vice presidency was just as improbable as it was sensational. Harris, an HBCU alumni, burst on the political scene in 2003, when she was elected San Francisco district attorney in convincing fashion.

As D.A., Harris showed her inclination for progressive policy, introducing the “Back on Track initiative,” which created GED courses along with job training and drug testing programs for nonviolent first-time drug offenders. The initiative is widely seen as a primary reason the city’s recidivism rate dropped from 54 percent to 10 percent in six years.

Never complacent, Harris created the city’s first environmental justice unit, which goes after crimes involving illegal dumping and air pollution.

“Crimes against the environment are crimes against communities, people who are often poor and disenfranchised.” Mrs. Harris stated upon the unit’s creation. Helping the poor and disenfranchised is at the core of what it means to be a progressive.

In 2010, Harris was elected California Attorney General, where she secured around $25 billion from the big banks to assist consumers devastated by the nation’s foreclosure crisis. While many progressives sharply criticized the deal for not going far enough, it indicated that Harris was willing to take a progressive stand when needed

Harris also directed the state justice department to adopt body cameras, ordered that California police undergo racial bias training and refused to defend Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California.

Mrs. Harris, as evidenced by the litany of progressive policies she has enacted and defended — not to mention the many policies she vowed to support in the Democratic primary including Medicare-for-all, the green new deal, and a $15 minimum wage — has shown a willingness, and at times even, a predisposition to meet progressives halfway or further on a number of key issues.

Mrs. Harris knows how the wind is blowing; she knows that the Democratic party, and the electorate as a whole, are getting younger, browner and more progressive. If Mrs. Harris holds 2024 aspirations, she must consider these demographics and fight for policies supported by this new electorate.

Still, all of this is contingent on one crucial factor… turnout. Voting is power, and if young progressives like me choose not to show up this fall, we lose any potential power gained in a Biden-Harris administration.

In her memoir, “The Truths We Hold,” Mrs. Harris wrote, “when activists came marching and banging on doors, I wanted to be on the other side to let them in.”

Well, Mrs. Harris, this door happens to be located on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. All we ask, is that when the time comes, you let us in.