What to Expect from a Kamala Harris Presidency

Imagine a world no one would ever want to live in.

December 22, 2018
By Robert Oscar Lopez

According to CNN's Grace Sparks, polls show Kamala Harris winning 4% support from Democrats going into the 2020 presidential run. Harris trails behind Joe Biden (30%), Bernie Sanders (14%), Robert Francis O'Rourke (9%), and Cory Booker (5%).
But don't be fooled. In 2020, outcomes will place a premium on identity politics. While many liberals have warned against the overuse of identity politics, most Democrats still have faith in identity as a rallying point. Democrats have had too many successes to forgo identity politics:

  • Virginia Democrats found great success by casting Republican Ed Gillespie as a racist.
  • Democrats succeeded in getting a radically left-wing candidate, Doug Jones, elected in Alabama. They did this by flooding media with speculations about Roy Moore's misconduct toward women (and accusations that he was a "child-molester"). This made people believe that Jones, though white and male, would be better for women. The gay press highlighted Jones's gay son.
  • A woman's accusations turned Brett Kavanaugh's nomination into a test case for whether people support women.
  • In the midterm elections, newspapers focused on a flurry of "firsts" – the first American Indian lesbian, the first African-American woman, etc.

Kamala Harris, standing tall in a nation's nadir
Elizabeth Warren's star continues to fall because of her controversial claims to Cherokee heritage, something people no longer dismiss as a right-wing smear. Hence, Harris rises highest in the Democrats' order-of-merit list. According to a Britannica biography, she is half-Indian and half-Jamaican. Her father taught at Stanford. Her mother, daughter of a diplomat, worked as a cancer researcher. Normally, this privilege would weaken her prospects when running against people who can throw out the "my daddy worked in the mills" speech.
Democrats have always had schizophrenia when it comes to candidates from poor upbringings. On the one hand, they need such people to run for office and appeal to voters from poor upbringings. On the other hand, incredibly wealthy people like Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Feinstein still run the Democratic Party.
Few survive the Scylla and Charybdis of identity politics. You have to show that you are part of an oppressed group and that the oppressor groups can trust you with their support and not get burned. Harris dances this line perfectly. She went to Howard University for her undergraduate work, guaranteeing her bona fides in the black community. She plays to a key donor class, LGBTs, because of her history as California attorney general. She refused to defend Proposition 8.
Harris's powerful connections may explain her meteoric rise. (Let us set aside ballot-harvesting and possible cheating). California is 5.8% black but 39% Latino, yet she had a 2016 victory over Loretta Sanchez. With no conspicuous advantage by policy platforms, only the massive party machine's preference or balloting tricks could account for Harris's sitting in the Senate today.
Both Harris and Sanchez are Democrats. Party affiliation gave Harris no advantage. Republicans, a small but necessary part of the electorate, leaned toward Sanchez. Sanchez was from the more populous Southern California, unlike Harris, who was from the wealthy but less populous Bay Area. Sanchez had a prominent history in state politics. Her 1996 victory in Orange County against Robert Dornan lives on as legendary. Sanchez's sister also served in Congress and had broad support in California.
Harris has gained a great deal of attention on immigration (comparing ICE to the KKK and terrorists), on Kavanaugh and sexual assault (pulling an ambush with an anonymous letter), and black rights (sponsoring a bill to make lynching a federal crime).
My window into Kamala Harris's world
To judge what someone will do as president, the question is not "who is this person?," but rather "when this person leads, what happens?"
For the latter, I can offer some personal accounts. Kamala Harris became California's attorney general in 2010. At that time, I worked as a professor at California State University-Northridge. I worked for the state of California for the entire time she served as attorney general.
In my experience, her office failed abominably at enforcing laws against racial discrimination, harassment, mistreatment of veterans, hiring discrimination, viewpoint discrimination, religious discrimination, and abuse of children raised by LGBT couples. Whether you are a liberal worried about higher education's racial equality or a conservative concerned about left-wing bias, beware this woman.
Over eight years at Northridge, I tried to stop discrimination and suffered retaliation on a massive scale. I lost all the battles, and as a result, so did the wide-ranging groups I sought to fight for.
We hear so often that "inclusive" gestures require firing conservatives like Brendan Eich so that companies can attract the "best talent." This assumes that LGBTs have more talent than conservatives with principled reasons to oppose LGBT. My case presents the opposite situation: to placate a white lesbian dean who hated me, California sabotaged myriad objectives.
The tragic outcome resulted from an insidious bureaucracy manipulating complex regulations. Yet much of this depended on the responsiveness of the office Harris oversaw. Multiple times I filed complaints with California offices about the systematic discrimination against black Americans, Latinos, veterans, Christians, conservatives, and children of same-sex couples.
That so many complaints and notices got buried or ignored during the entire tenure of Kamala Harris as attorney general raises enormous doubts about her competence. I had documents proving:

  • They rewarded white professors with higher rank and pay despite lesser accomplishments.
  • They approved a white South African gay man for leave without pay to explore a new job but then denied the same opportunity to a Latino three years later.
  • They barred the only Latino in a department from serving on hiring committees in his field, while stacking the committees with white women of lower rank, fewer publications, and more possible conflicts of interest.
  • They posted job ads that misrepresented a hiring search and then forced through the hire of a white woman who was patently unqualified for the job posted (the ad was ostensibly for a "trans-Atlantic" specialist versed in British literature but their short list consisted of three white women schooled in American literature; they hired a white woman with an American studies Ph.D.)
  • They opened a search for African-American studies and then eliminated highly qualified black applicants in order to hire a white man for the job, because he was a Marxist and the search committee's head was a Marxist.
  • The department chair wrote to me and asked specifically that I exclude a black woman with an M.A. from a curriculum development meeting because she was not "qualified," even though a white librarian with less education was never disinvited.
  • The dean's direct reports with whom I had considerable interaction consisted of Elizabeth Say, Elizabeth Adams, Noreen Galvin, Betty Priaulx, Elizabeth Whirledge, Teresa Morrison, and Tina Chewning. All of these people are white women, and more than half are lesbians.
  • They told me that I could not count my time on active duty in the military toward time in my job, a statement that blatantly violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-Employment Rights Act.
  • A professor sent me homosexual pornography through the university email system, which should count as sexual harassment!
  • More than I can recount with this word limit!

Their treatment of immigrants was abominable. As I relayed in this 2016 piece, the white dean deliberately prevented Latino immigrants from getting a humanities education comparable to wealthy whites in schools with real liberal arts programs. The college also made sure to qualify as a "Hispanic-Serving Institution" while packing all of its Latino faculty in ugly, windowless offices devoted to the ethnic studies departments. The overwhelmingly white English department worked in spacious, well lit offices overlooking the sunny California quadrangle from the seventh and eighth floors.
In such a racially charged climate, how could white liberals get away with this? Very easily. The ethnic professors working in ethnic studies departments had to keep the dean happy so she would continue to keep their programs afloat. As part of an apparent you-scratch-my-back-I-scratch-yours deal, the graduation requirements forced students to take introductory writing classes. The dean arranged for ethnic studies classes to count for these. Yet Chicano Studies and Central American Studies had no particular qualifications in teaching freshmen how to write research papers in English. The dean could count on human shields to stave off charges by people like me.
People assigned to review the dean were safe allies who directly reported to her. While I was there, an Indian-American professor from English served on the personnel committee and the committee to review the dean. She also managed to get her husband hired in the Asian-American Studies Department for a tenure-track position. Like several other people in the English Department, she counted as a faculty member in English as well as in another program (liberal studies), hence her vote counted double under "faculty governance" rules. This also meant she got to run hiring committees in multiple departments and therefore stack the college-wide faculty, including the Academic Council, with people she and the dean favored.
Responsibility flows to the top. Only an attorney general who willfully ignored warning signs could allow such a culture to flourish in California's crown jewel of public institutions, the university system.
Prior to my working at Northridge, a professor killed herself. While I was there, another, Susanne Collier-Lakeman, suffered an early death after withstanding multiple attempts by nasty and vindictive colleagues to drive her from her job. (Susanne was my only friend in the department, and we lunched together.) A veteran, Ian Long, came out of three years at Northridge with no counseling help, then went on to slaughter twelve people in the ignominious Thousand Oaks shooting. With no conservative professor on campus to engage in political dialogue, the students' only exposure to right-wing ideas now consists of juvenile and fruitless mockery from Prager University. Police fanned across the campus in response to Nazi graffiti in a restroom and threats of another mass shooting on December 12. Another close friend, a black woman, quit the job after constant harassment and bullying from colleagues. She describes the aftereffects as PTSD. As a witness to a lot of it, I do not think she exaggerates.
These disasters could have been prevented. Had I ever had a chance to present my evidence to a competent employment law official under Kamala Harris's charge, I am sure I could have shown an open-and-shut case. But Kamala Harris's world is a world of bureaucratic trap doors designed to protect the people in power, who are still, in California as elsewhere, wealthy white liberals who know nothing of the travails faced by people in the military or people who grew up in LGBT families.
Whether you are a public figure or an everyday citizen, the world Kamala Harris makes is a dark world nobody wants to live in.
Robert Oscar Lopez can be followed at English Manif.