Joe Biden invites his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) to the stage to deliver remarks

I Voted for Harm Reduction in 2020 So Why Do I Still Feel Fucked?

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It has only been six months into the Biden/Harris Presidency and I am feeling very exhausted already. Harris was never a radical choice and neither was Biden (although if you listen to Meghan McCain on The View you’d think we elected Elizabeth Warren). I don’t expect a lot and I didn’t expect a lot when I voted for them, but I think it is fair to still say that the way we have tried to teach harm reduction politically does not help us in the long run.

Harm reduction, the lesser of two evils, etc., are all terms that have been used to keep us ever entrenched in a system that continues to fail us in ways that are just hard to deal with. It makes us lean on the aesthetics of change rather than actual policy.

Exhibit 7000, Vice President Kamala Harris.

Harris took a two-day trip to Central America earlier this week where her goal was to send a message to would-be asylum seekers to stop coming to the US southern border. And she did so in probably the clumsiest way possible. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez put the reason why well in a tweet:

“First, seeking asylum at any US border is a 100% legal method of arrival,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “Second, the US spent decades contributing to regime change and destabilization in Latin America. We can’t help set someone’s house on fire and then blame them for fleeing.”

She continued: “It would be helpful if the US would finally acknowledge its contributions to destabilization and regime change in the region. Doing so can help us change US foreign policy, trade policy, climate policy, & carceral border policy to address causes of mass displacement & migration.”

Before Harris left for this trip,  NBC’s Lester Holt asked about why she hadn’t yet visited the southern border, considering she is the one tasked with leading the administration’s response to halt the flow of migration, and she answered in the following way.

“At some point, you know, we are going to the border,” Harris said in the interview. “We’ve been to the border. So this whole, this whole, this whole thing about the border. We’ve been to the border. We’ve been to the border.”

Holt responded: “You haven’t been to the border.”

“I, and I haven’t been to Europe,” Harris replied to Holt, with a laugh. “And I mean, I don’t — I don’t understand the point that you’re making.” (via CNN)

Kamala Harris was once considered one of the most progressive people in the Senate and yet has fallen so short of where the leftist part of the party is. What makes her failings on this issue extra irritating to watch is that when it came to criticism of her there is so much pressure to allow people to celebrate the optics of this. Our first Black and Asian female VP! Let people have their joy!

Then we watch that administration not say anything to protect Palestinian children and continue the same legacy of not handling immigration. Harris, like me, is the child of immigrants. To not have a certain level of empathy and tact in her language is distressing. And what was distressing for me was the realization that I expected better.

Is living in the Biden Administration better than living under Trump? Yes. Unequivocally yes. That doesn’t mean this should be the only type of situation we are in all the time.

But rather than just steep in this anger, I want to encourage those who are already doing the work to keep going forward and most importantly work in local elections. We can’t elect perfect people and we shouldn’t have “stan” political culture, but for those of us who are progressives, we need to reframe the way we have set up the ideas of “harm reduction” and “the lesser of two evils.” Because what is happening now continues to not work.

(image: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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Princess Weekes
Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.