By NATALIE LARIMER
Did you hear that Kamala Harris came to Drake for a Town Hall meeting? Did you know that it was nationally televised on CNN? In case you were unaware of those two highly publicized facts that has dominated the social media scene for the past few days, then let me fill you in. On Jan. 28, the first day of the spring semester, Senator Kamala Harris (D – CA), who is now a presidential candidate for the Democrats, visited our own Sheslow auditorium to do a Town Hall, or a Q&A with Iowan residents and voters. I was lucky enough to be one of the few Drake students to get a ticket, and as a steadfast Democrat, I decided to give you guys my take on Harris’ event.
First off, I think that Harris is trying really hard to get a ton of early press because she announced fairly early and, with the WarnerMedia Group (the company that owns CNN) being her number one campaign donor for her congressional elections, it is really no wonder that she is doing events such as these literally one day after she announced her candidacy. However, regardless of how much early press she gets, it is not likely that this momentum will carry her through the primaries.
I liked Harris. I really did. She said some good things about gun control and protecting DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients, but I do not think she has good enough ideas to make her stand out from other Democratic candidates on any basis other than identity politics. Right now, the Democratic nominee, whoever it may be, will most likely have pretty standard Democratic policies that do not vary much from their opposition in the primaries, but they will have the demographics that we prefer. Whether that be a black woman like Kamala Harris or your standard white man like Sherrod Brown, they will not have much difference on their policies, especially after the primaries.
Regardless of Harris’ chances in the primary, I think her Town Hall was pretty impressive. Like I said, I really enjoyed what she had to say about gun control. She pointed out, like I wish more people would, that it is not mutually exclusive to support the second amendment and also want stricter gun control. Harris called for universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons. She even backs up these ideas with her voting record, so good on Kamala.
She was asked a question by a DACA recipient about what she would do to protect those impacted by DACA. Harris responded that DACA, nor those who are protected by it, is not to be used as a bargaining chip, and that DACA kids and their parents should be allowed to stay in the U.S. and not be under threat of deportation at the drop of a hat. She then called Trump’s border wall a “medieval vanity exercise” that will be as ineffective as it is expensive.
One thing that I found very odd to hear a presidential candidate say was that she wanted Medicare for all, and part of that would be to eliminate private insurance. I support this, but not many people will, especially big companies in the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. This is a pretty risky thing to say so early in a campaign, or at all to be honest, but I think that it provides her with some legitimacy as an individual candidate as opposed to just another churned out Democrat.
Overall, I think she was fine. As far as I am concerned, I think she has some worthwhile things to say but, in the end, it is not going to get her the party nomination. But, if she somehow does get nominated, I will campaign my heart out for her because she is far better than the alternative.