The most under-appreciated fact of the 2020 presidential campaign is that Kamala Harris, the woman likely to soon replace the geriatric Biden should the Democratic ticket win, is a creature of San Francisco political machine.
Harris was born 56 years ago today in Berkeley, the daughter of two graduate students, and spent her formative years in the East Bay. She attended Howard University where she learned nothing about rap, returning to the Bay Area afterwards.
Her political career took off after an affair with then California State Assembly Speaker, and the future mayor of San Francisco, and the City’s powerbroker, Willie Brown. Brown was twice her age at the time, and his wife was battling cancer. Before being elected to the US Senate, the Bay Area’s native daughter served as a district attorney of San Francisco, and attorney general of California.
Like Gov. Gavin Newsom, Kamala is the cream of the crop of San Francisco — and California’s — political elite, and is likely to bring the Golden Gate City’s style of governance to Washington. The problem with that is that we are not very good with governance around here.
Take, for instance, Biden’s preferred campaign focus, the coronavirus crisis. Yes, California, and especially the Bay Area, closed down early and hard, leading the country with shelter-in-place measures. We stayed closed, allowing only minor tweaking of the quarantine edicts. For instance, last week San Francisco reopened playgrounds for half an hour visits. In addition to face covering and social distancing, children will have to observe rules, including no toy sharing and no crying.
And while our Wuhan virus headcount remained relatively low, it’s not clear if it’s because the first wave of the disease hit us before the country went on the lockdown, or because it is over-suppressed. After all, other places that locked down early and hard only saw their cases spike once they eased the restrictions.
What is known is that the measures got stricter as the number of infections plunged. The latest round shattered the grassroots quarantine convention by forbidding members of more than three families from socializing at once. This was announced as the cases continued to drop.
Of course, the restrictions do not apply to the members of the machine. Notoriously, Nancy Pelosi was caught on camera maskless at a hair salon, two strikes against the quarantine regime at once.
Pandemic restrictions are but the latest of our woes. Crime is one of the common complaints, and Harris has been on the tough on crime (and minorities) side and the pro-lawless one. During the prosecutorial stage of her career, Kamala aggressively went against marijuana offenders, and parents whose kids missed too many classes.
On the other hand, she always maintained the public progressive persona, and, in the 2010s, wrote summaries of the Proposition 47 which reduced drug and property crimes to misdemeanors, and Proposition 57 that allowed for early release of loosely defined ‘non-violent criminals’ for the election manuals. Harris misrepresented the laws, most notoriously slapping the Orwellian title Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act on Prop 47.
After the statutes were passed by voters property crime, and drug use skyrocketed, and newly freed prisoners left confinement, but weren’t able to find support necessary to transition.
If there is a happy medium between throwing minority single mothers in prison and permitting hoards of IV drug users to monopolize sidewalks, Kamala Harris was not able to find it.
Worse, just as it’s hard to tell who is her favorite recording artist, it’s unclear what informs this Harris’s approach to law enforcement.
She has been slow to respond to the wildfires that has been ravaging her state since August. When she finally found time to visit her home state, and tour the burned-down areas, the national media reported on her shoes.
The infernos sweeping through California in the last few years have been exacerbated by poor public land management. A combination of a century of failing to do control burns on state land and decades of logging prohibition on the federal land resulted in accumulation of underbrush, making forests highly flammable.
The wildfires have consumed more than four million acres of land in 2020 so far, but in this decade prescribed burns have been performed on only 30,000 acres a year. Even the plan to extend that number to 500,000 looks hopelessly insufficient. Unable to address mundane practical issues, like removing excess dead wood from the forests, Newsom prefers to blame the state-regulated utility companies and global warming.
The rising crime, the fires and the lockdowns are fairly recent additions to other systemic problems. Our public schools are among the lowest performing in the nation, and businesses, as well as our private lives are notoriously over-regulated. Another new development is Gavin Newsom adopting, in lieu of COVID, the rule by decree. California legislator Kevin Kiley has counted over 400 laws which Newsom unilaterally changed since he imposed the statewide shelter-in-pace orders in March.
It is no wonder that Californians are leaving the state, and that the exodus sped up after the quarantine orders. Since then, San Francisco, the epicenter of lockdowns fundamentalism, saw a 20 percent drop in rents and a 53 percent drop in sales. Meanwhile, just 133 people have died from the illness in the city over the last seven months.
It’s fair to say that if you want a vision of what Kamala Harris’s America will look like, look at California. And if it is still possible now for Californians to escape the ruin by the San Francisco Machine, where are we going to run to if she takes charge of the White House?