Opinion: California's Kamala Harris Could Be Destiny's Child in 2020




Surf’s up.

Pounders are bashing the coast. A multi-storm track is upon us, dumping not just rain and snow, but death-defying breakers.

Our wild San Diego weather perfectly matches the political turbulence now enveloping the country.

Enter Senator, Kamala Harris, with her new book, The Truths We Hold.

She—as with every other Democratic politician with a healthy heartbeat—knows this is a great time to seek the Presidency of the United States.

Opinion logoNot since FDR cruised into the White House amid the stock market crash and the Great Depression has the glide path seemed so clear to so many.

Someone, among the 30-plus Democrats now expressing interest, will catch one of those Maverick waves and ride it to the Presidency.

Harris lays out a 286-page compendium of positions taken (and often won) that suggests why she could be that candidate.

In it, she touches all of the groundswell movements of recent history. The women’s and #MeToo movements. Her opposition to Judge Kavanaugh as “unfit” and awe for the “courageous” testimony of Dr. Blasey Ford. Her fights with the big banks amid California’s housing downturn and subsequent foreclosure crisis.

“There were huge areas, entire zip codes, where people were hundreds of dollars underwater,” she writes. The banks offered but a pittance for their responsibility–just $2 billion to $4 billion.

Harris’ response? She walked out of the multi-state attorneys general meeting that almost accepted that offer and negotiated a deal that ultimately grew to $20 billion.

On the immigration and wall standoffs, she supported DACA, but voted against the wall.

The list continues with Harris in the vanguard on almost every progressive issue.

She supports same sex marriage, women’s rights, civil rights, social justice and universal health care. She’s outraged over the opioid epidemic and climate change. Her advocacy spans foster children, victims of gun violence, and childhood education.

In short, she is from California and represents the priorities of America’s largest and most diverse state.

But, something is missing. Speed-read the narrative. Then skip to the photos and study them.

A picture really is worth a thousand words. It is in these photos that Harris’ inheritance is obvious.

Born of an Indian mother and Jamaican father (both with Ph.D. degrees), Harris’ birthrights of intelligence, beauty and bearing—accompanied by a polestar that her lion-hearted mother burnished—stand out in every photo.

Telegenic attributes aside, there exists an elegance and assumption of grace that destiny bestowed upon her at a young age.

Yet, other than the poignant description of her mother’s death from cancer, the bruises and failures that shape us all are missing in this book.

Even her disappointment at failing the bar exam the first time merits nary a footnote.

She earned plum internships, appointments, and access to powerful friends—such as former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. But he, inexplicably, is never mentioned—not even in the index.

One wonders why, when Harris herself is a generous mentor, does she fail to credit Brown?

And what caused Sen. Dianne Feinstein to dismiss Harris and opt for Joe Biden’s bid for President? Nothing in the book about that feud.

What other scars has Harris earned? Has she never experienced a drowning sensation? No scraps or bruises? No near-death comebacks (save for a months-long election tally before her Attorney General win was acknowledged)?

In short, Harris’ political bona fides are obvious, but if one is looking for the scars that most generals proudly carry into battle, they are not to be found in this book.

Her desire to be circumspect and discreet is understandable, even laudable.

But, what drives her obvious fierce advocacy is absent. Surely, it is more than just a litany of anecdotal interviews with constituents and victims or intellectual abstractions.

Nevertheless, Harris does seem to be the right person at the right time—riding the latest, fiercest currents of public opinion.  The swells are moving in her direction.  She may just catch that wave.

Watch the storms and all those surfers.

Harris could just be Destiny’s child in 2020.

Colleen O’Connor is a native San Diegan and a retired college professor.