Rock The Vote: Here's A Rundown Of Where Kamala Harris Stands On The Issues

Not to persuade you to vote one way or another, but to give you information to hold our elected officials accountable.


Early voting has now begun in many states, and we have seen the first rounds of the Presidential debates as well as the Vice Presidential debates. This may very well be the last rounds of debates as COVID-19 is now ravaging its way through not only our President but his staff officials. After the first debate, many voters voiced their disappointment at the complete breakdown of the moderator to control the uncontrollable President Trump. This left many wondering would the Vice Presidential debate be any better at giving a full picture to what each platform had created to fix what is now one of the worst presidencies in American history.


Like most voters heading to the polls in their respective states for early voting, you probably already know which way you will vote. And if history is any indicator, we all know which way Black women will be voting again in 2020. However, that still does not excuse us from the responsibility to educate ourselves on our potential leaders' platforms, making sure we are voting down the ballot in our state and local government elections as well. This article is not to persuade you to vote one way or another but rather to give you information so that no matter who gets into office, we fulfill our duty as citizens of this country, to hold our elected officials accountable to things they promised us in exchange for our vote. The work does not stop after the election, the work of the fight for the rights of the people is just beginning.

This debate offered a lot more in the way of policymaking and changes needed for leadership in the next four years. Here are a few of the highlights:

On Coronavirus


The opening topic for this debate was obviously the pandemic that has now taken 200,000+ American lives. It is the most urgent concern in many people's lives as the COVID-19 illness has touched any and every one no matter the race, religion, or creed. We are already experiencing what the Trump administration has done for the people of this country and are still not trusting of his lead going into the future. A few points made by Harris on the handling of the pandemic and what the Biden administration plans to do when they first get into office are:

  • The Biden campaign has a plan to start containing COVID-19 by creating a national strategy for contact tracing and creating a vaccine for all that is free.
  • Harris ended on a strong point to voters to remember the panic and how they felt when this all started and leadership was behind the ball. "How calm were you when you didn't know where you would get your next roll of paper, when your kids were sent home from school, when your kids couldn't visit your parents because they were afraid they would kill them?"

On if Voters Should Know the Health Condition of Presidential Candidates


This topic is an interesting one because this Presidential election has some of the oldest candidates in American history on the ticket. With 45 being 74 at the time of the election and Biden being 78, the issue of what will happen if the President ever becomes disabled and unavailable to perform the duties of the office are warranted. As you may know, there is a succession of power that is enacted if a sitting President ever becomes incapacitated. We have seen this in history many times but one that you may remember is the assassination of JFK. Lyndon B. Johnson was immediately sworn in as to not have any disruption in power. With two aging candidates, the importance of a potential VP is also a consideration on many voters' minds.

What can be gathered from the cleverly crafted answer from Harris is that Biden chose her because they share similar values in hard work, public service, and fighting for the dignity of people. Also, Biden made his choice based on her career in criminal justice as well as her time and work in the US Senate. They both believe that they can share in the purpose of uplifting the American people around their common core values and principles. Harris also believes that transparency in the health of each candidate is necessary for the voters. Not only should this transparency be applied to health status but also to taxes. This is when Harris reminded voters that 45 has only paid $750 in taxes and according to those taxes, he owes millions of dollars to unknown sources. Harris stated 45 is $400,000 in debt, which she followed with, "Do you know what debt means, you owe somebody."

On American Economy and Climate Change

The American economy and the climate are both burning fires, literally and figuratively. Due to the pandemic, millions are out of jobs and are unable to pay at the very least their rent. With man-made change to the climate, we are starting to see larger hurricanes at a more frequent rate, enormous forest fires engulfing California, terrible air quality, etc. These two issues may seem to be disconnected but work very much in consequence with one another. Let's just jump into what Harris said the Biden campaign will do about both:


  • The bill that was passed to provide a tax loop for the top 1%, Biden will get rid of this bill and reinvest those funds into the American people.
  • They will also invest in roads, infrastructure, and clean energy.
  • Funds will be used for education to provide college for free at 2-year universities, families that make less than a determined amount will be able to attend public 4-year institutions for free
  • Student loans will be cut by $10,000
  • Taxes will not be raised on families who make less than $400,000/year
  • Will not end fracking
  • Will continue to support AHCA to make sure families do not go bankrupt trying to receive medical services

Climate Change:

  • Climate change is an existential crisis
  • Biden has a plan to create 7 million jobs that will be in the clean and renewable energy sector
  • This platform believes in science and will use it to help in the fight against climate change
  • US will reenter the Paris Agreement

On the Supreme Court and Pre-Existing Conditions


With the recent passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, there is a seat vacant on the supreme court at what is a pretty unusual time. It has been argued that the seat should be filled by the next sitting President, but as we know 45 is trying to get Amy Coney Barrett in the remaining seat before the election. Here is where the Biden/Harris campaign stand on choosing a new justice at this time:

  • Biden believes that we are in an election and that the American people should choose who fills that seat. Simply put, the next President should be voted in and that person should be able to make the appointment.

The decision of the Supreme Court appointment also raises questions about very important Supreme Court decisions such as Roe vs. Wade and current cases like the AHCA and pre-existing conditions. The very fate of not only the healthcare system but women's rights hangs in the balance. Harris never really answered the question of whether or not she was pro-choice or pro-life directly but she had these points to make:

  • Harris and Biden both consider themselves to be people of faith and that should never be questioned.
  • Harris will always fight for the rights of women to do whatever they want with their bodies.
  • ACHA will continue to cover pre-existing conditions by expanding coverage for those who need it.

On Racial Injustice:

This year has been intense with the issues of racial injustices being front and center. We have seen many of these very moments played out on video which has energized marginalized communities to organize and protest. Atrocities against people of color in this country are what weaves the story of America together. With the current state of racial tensions, the question was necessary for this debate. Especially after 45 refused to denounce white supremacy in the Presidential debate, calling on the Proud Boys to "stand back and stand by." This was also followed up by Pence denying systematic racism's very existence and putting his full faith in an obviously problematic judicial and law enforcement system. Harris, who has an extensive background in criminal justice laid out what the Biden administration's platform around racial injustice would be:

  • Harris stated that she believes that Breonna Taylor was a beautiful woman with dreams and aspirations. Harris was able to sit down and speak with her mother and still believes she deserves justice.
  • Harris was a part of a few of the recent protests happening and marched for equal justice. Harris feels the protests were peaceful but does not approve of the violence that has occurred.
  • Harris stated, "Bad cops are bad for good cops." Which is the focal point of what needs to be unpacked to be able to reform policing.
  • The Biden/Harris platform believes in police reform which involves a ban on chokeholds, a national registry to identify bad cops, decriminalization of marijuana, getting rid of cash bails, and doing away with industrialized prisons.

For more information on the Biden/Harris campaign vision, click HERE.

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Featured image by Giphy.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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