By: Zachary Greenberg  | 

Where Do You Stand, Senator Harris?

On Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2020, 50.7 million viewers tuned in to watch the vice presidential debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris. The debate featured several important issues such as climate change, foreign policy, the Supreme Court and more. Throughout the debate, Senator Harris continuously avoided answering direct questions, gave answers which contradicted her previous statements, and made comments that put the safety of our country in jeopardy.

In the beginning of the debate, Vice President Pence challenged Senator Harris on her and former Vice President Biden’s positions on how they would address fracking if they are elected in November. Senator Harris adamantly stated: “I will repeat, and the American people will know, Joe Biden will not ban fracking. That is a fact.” In reality though, this is not correct. 

At a town hall meeting in September 2019 while she was running for the Democratic presidential nomination, Harris openly said to thunderous applause, “There’s no question, I’m in favor of banning fracking.” Joe Biden himself on three separate occasions committed to banning fracking. When asked by a voter at a campaign event in January in Claremont, N.H. if he would commit to end fracking, he replied: “Yes.” At an event in Somersworth, N.H. in February Biden said “we are going to get rid of fossil fuels”, and during an exchange with Senator Sanders during the Democratic Presidential Primary Debate in March he stated “no more — no new fracking.” 

The Biden-Harris campaign's tendency to contradict themselves is not limited to fracking as shown during the presidential debate on Tuesday, Sept. 29. President Trump had asked Vice President Biden for his position on the Green New Deal. Biden explicitly said, “No, I don’t support the Green New Deal.” This is a very strange position for him to take considering his very own campaign website states: “Biden believes the Green New Deal is a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face.” This would seem to indicate that he does support most, or all, of the positions this proposal calls for. It is obvious from these contradicting messages that Senator Harris and Vice President Biden change their stances based on who the audience is, leaving voters scratching their heads as what to believe their positions really are.

The debate between Pence and Harris also brought out some terrifying prospects as to the safety of our country. Upon being asked whether or not Senator Harris would take a coronavirus vaccine that will hopefully be ready within the next few months, Harris claimed, “If the public health professionals, if Dr. Fauci, if the doctors tell us that we should take it, I'll be the first in line to take it absolutely, but if Donald Trump tells us to take it, I'm not taking it.” Pence attacked her for her stance on this stating “The fact that you continue to undermine public confidence in a vaccine — if the vaccine emerges during the Trump administration — I think is unconscionable ... Senator, I just ask you, stop playing politics with people’s lives.” Sooner or later, the vaccine will be ready to be released. It is comments like these from Senator Harris which will put fear into the hearts of American citizens who may refuse to take the vaccine. This comes at a time where America is dealing with a rampant problem of unfounded and dangerous distrust in vaccines. 

A survey in January showed “that only 45% of Americans believe vaccines do not cause autism in children” and this trend has the potential to grow exponentially with fearful comments from popular cultural figures, such as Senator Harris. Nonetheless, even if the opposition is only against a vaccine that the president endorsed, it is still ridiculous. The vaccine is being created and produced by the same companies and scientists that produce all the other vaccines which people regularly take themselves and give to their children. In a recent CNN survey, 45% indicated that they would not get the COVID vaccine and health officials warn that may keep the U.S. from herd immunity against the virus. For Senator Harris, an extremely influential figure in the U.S., to say something as petty as she won’t take it if it comes from President Trump is extremely reckless; she should have been sensitive to the fact that a lot of people are skeptical about vaccines despite their benefits, and statements such as those only make people more afraid of using them. 

Later in the debate when she was asked a question on foreign policy, Senator Harris quoted the philosophy she said she was taught by Joe Biden: “foreign policy might sound complicated, but it’s about relationships … you’ve got to keep your word to your friends” thereby implying that the most important part of a nation’s foreign policy is maintaining, strengthening and protecting your allies from those that threaten them. In response to this, Vice President Pence related how Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama promised upon being elected that they would move the embassy to Jerusalem. This promise, like the promises made by several other presidential administrations, was never fulfilled under the Obama-Biden administration, which directly goes against Harris’s own advice of keeping “your word to your friends.” 

Additionally, Senator Harris related how she was upset about the move by President Trump to withdraw from the Iran Nuclear Deal. Under the deal reached in 2015 amid bipartisan criticism in both houses of Congress, President Obama gave $1.7 billion in cash to Iran and removed $100 billion worth of sanctions in exchange for Iran’s word that it would no longer buy or seek nuclear weapons, as all checks and monitoring would end after 15 years. This money not only did not provide peace, it directly hampers any future effort in bringing about any sort of stability to the region. The Iranian government is the foremost state sponsor of terror in the world, not only against Israel, but against its moderate Arab neighbors and, most of all, against its own citizens. Furthermore, this money provided its murderous oppressive rulers increased ability to maintain power. In Iran, thousands have disappeared and were likely executed in prison without their families knowledge at all, with many of these executions being carried out in the most brutal of methods such as being hung from cranes, stoning, or thrown off cliffs. Additionally, being an Islamic republic, the state maintains the death penalty for apostates, political dissidents, and members of the LGBT community. According to a 2008 British WikiLeaks document, Iran’s regime has executed between 4,000-6,000 gays and lesbians since the country’s 1979 Islamic revolution, and following intelligence data released in January of 2020 stated that these executions have increased and continued completely unabated. Sadly, although this is “old news,” few are willing to even bring up this matter in any forum but at the very least we should expect our leaders to not directly fund their murders.

The lack of clarity from the Biden-Harris ticket was most evident on the topic of court packing. Pence asked Harris, “Are you and Joe Biden going to pack the court? ... Your party is actually openly advocating adding seats to the Supreme Court, which has had nine seats for 150 years.” In this question, “packing the court” refers to the notion of adding to the nine seat Supreme Court in order to ensure that the court aligns with a specific political party. Senator Harris dodged the question and instead incorrectly told the story of when Abraham Lincoln did not appoint a justice during his election year to argue that the Republicans should not appoint a Justice during this time (leaving out the fact that the Senate had not been in session at the time and therefore could not appoint a justice anyway). After she finished speaking, Vice President Pence repeated the question and she once again attempted to change the subject thereby completely refusing to give any sort of answer one way or another. “The American people deserve a straight answer,” Pence remarked. “And if you haven't figured it out yet, the straight answer is they are going to pack the Supreme Court.”

To change the nature and character of one of our longest institutions is a dangerous precedent to take. During the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR), one of the criticisms most historians and politicians across the aisle have agreed on was his attempt to add justices to the Supreme Court in 1937 to ensure his (ironically his own “New Deal”) programs would not be invalidated. As Pence said during the debate, “You’re entitled to your own opinions, but you’re not entitled to your own facts.” Whether Trump should have appointed Amy Coney Barrett to the Court at the end of his term is up to your opinion. It is within Trump’s legal right to do so — one-third of all Presidents have appointed a Supreme Court justice in an election year. However, the Biden administration’s plan to add more seats to the Supreme Court is the same dangerous idea that FDR attempted, but was stopped by his own Democratic Party (7 out of the 10 members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who signed a document opposing FDR’s scheme were Democrats). Biden would be within his legal right to expand the Court, but it is clear that it would be done solely to tilt the balance of the judiciary in his favor. Never has that been done in the history of our republic. Further, this could lead to a vicious cycle of continuously adding justices to the court for one party’s advantage. The next time a Republican president wins, that president could easily also add even more justices to the court. And then the next Democrat president could do the same, and so on. This would tarnish the court’s integrity from the past 150 years. Even the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was a strong Democrat, opposed the proposals to increase the number of seats on the court. 

Moreover, it was only about a year ago, in July 2019, when Biden told the Iowa Starting Line, “No, I'm not prepared to go on and try to pack the court, because we'll live to rue that day.” Senator Harris, on the other hand, told Politico in March 2019 that she was open to court-packing. Since then, both Biden and Harris have repeatedly refused to answer whether they will pack the court despite being asked point-blank if they intend to do so. I’m confused why the change of heart all of a sudden. Once again this shows that the Biden Administration seeks to choose their answers based on their audience and not state what they really believe in.

Senator Harris showed at the debate on multiple occasions that she is willing to change the facts to fit her agenda. When directly confronted with these points, she refused to answer them clearly and made inconsistent or factually incorrect claims. It is time for Senator Harris to clearly state which positions she will advocate for should she be elected to the White House along with Vice President Biden. Will you ban fracking or not? Will you add justices to the court? Where do you really stand Senator Harris?

Jonathan Mamet contributed to this article.

Photo Caption: Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons