Kamala’s Way | Dan Morain

Summary of: Kamala’s Way: An American Life
By: Dan Morain

Introduction

Dive into the inspiring journey of Kamala Harris, as chronicled in Dan Morain’s ‘Kamala’s Way: An American Life’. Uncovering her personal and professional life, the summary unveils her experiences as she battles political odds and breaks multiple barriers along the way. As the first woman, Black person, and person of Indian descent to assume numerous public offices, Kamala Harris’s remarkable life-story demonstrates resilience, perseverance, and the strength of character. Delve into the book summary to understand her stance on key issues, her transformational work in various roles, and the pivotal moments in her life that ultimately led her to become Joe Biden’s vice-presidential partner.

Kamala Harris’ Path to Politics

Kamala Harris aimed to advocate for vulnerable individuals in society, starting as a rookie prosecutor in Alameda County. She began her political career after becoming romantically involved with Willie Brown, joining the state board and supervising Medi-Cal contracts. She eventually became the Chief Assistant for the career criminal division in San Francisco before briefly running the Family and Children’s Services section of the city attorney’s office.

Kamala Devi Harris, daughter of an Indian cancer researcher and a Jamaican economist, attended Howard University, earning her degree in political science and economics. She then pursued a law degree at UC Hastings College of the Law and became a rookie prosecutor in Alameda County after passing California’s state bar exam. Known for her energy, focus, and drive to represent the most vulnerable individuals in society, Harris entered California politics in 1994 after getting involved with state assembly speaker Willie Lewis Brown Jr. Her relationship with Brown ended in 1995 after his successful campaign for mayor of San Francisco, prompting her to return to the Alameda County district attorney’s office. Eventually, Harris became a supervisor in San Francisco district attorney Terence Hallinan’s office and was chief assistant for the career criminal division. Though she missed out on a promotion, she continued to make strides in local politics, briefly running the Family and Children’s Services section of the city attorney’s office.

Kamala Harris’ Early Career as a District Attorney

In 2002, Kamala Harris ran for District Attorney of San Francisco with a promise to bolster prosecution of drug cases, improve conviction rates, repair the DA’s relationship with the police, and intensify the office’s focus on cases of domestic violence and human trafficking. During her tenure, Harris’s proactive approach included establishing a crime prevention program at the Sunnydale housing project, where street gangs held sway. She also dismissed charges against first-time nonviolent offenders if they joined a job-training program and had a focus on truancy in elementary schools. However, the decision not to seek the death penalty for a cop-killer further strained her office’s relations with the police. Nevertheless, Harris maintained her stance against the death penalty and was re-elected with a wide margin in 2008.

Kamala Harris: Attorney General of Firsts

Kamala Harris announced her candidacy for state attorney general just 11 months into her second term as San Francisco district attorney, using a campaign strategy to thin the field of likely primary opponents. Despite facing formidable obstacles, including the refusal of police unions to back her, Harris ran on a platform that included support for criminal-justice reform and marriage equality to become Attorney General of California. As the first woman, Black person, and person of Indian descent to assume such a crucial public office, Harris took bold stands against for-profit colleges, child human trafficking, and predatory lending practices. However, she did not take a stand on 2012’s Proposition 36 ballot initiative aimed at tempering California’s harsh “three strikes” law. Harris argued that having her deputies take a stand on ballot initiatives could complicate their duties as they wrote initiative summaries that appeared on ballots.

Kamala Harris’ Accomplishments

Kamala Harris’ first term saw her fight for Californians, marriage equality and various legal reforms. Her work in negotiating the landmark $20 billion settlement for homeowners during the mortgage crisis, suing polluting businesses and expanding access to police records were all steps towards a better California. As attorney general, she refused to defend Proposition 8 and advocated for its overturning, ultimately leading to marriage equality in California. Harris’ fight for the people continues to shape her policies and career.

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