Kamala Harris and the Legacy of the Lunatic Left

By Daniel Flynn Published on July 11, 2024

Joe Biden, that Trojan horse of a president, allowed the Left to smuggle its ideas into the Oval Office through his empty vessel. As calls for ousting him from the Democratic presidential ticket intensified this week, the question of how long he might last in office if reelected also cropped up. Now that Americans face the potential prospect of a President Kamala Harris, they can expect to encounter not a hollow equine, but one of the Greeks smuggled therein.

Born in Oakland, California, Harris grew up mainly in Berkeley before moving to Montreal, graduating from Howard University, and obtaining her juris doctorate from the Hastings College of Law in San Francisco. She boasts parents from different hemispheres — India and Jamaica. But she came of age politically in the epicenter of American radicalism.

“Politics has been something I’ve been doing for a long time,” she told The Los Angeles Times in 2015. “It didn’t just drop out of a tree and all of a sudden I took a look at it. It was already in my blood.”

And her San Francisco mentor represents one of the last living pols connecting the lunatic left throwing stones at the system during the 1970s to the area’s limousine liberals boring from within today.

Willie Brown, the former mayor of San Francisco and speaker of the California Assembly, launched the political career of Kamala Harris. She interned with Senator Alan Cranston and worked for San Francisco District Attorney Terrence Hallinan. But Brown, more than any other single figure, propelled the career of the current vice president. Their memoirs say much in not mentioning the other. But they partly shared a life at a crucial time in Kamala Harris’s life.

Openly Dating the Very Married Willie Brown …

But the student lacked the political acumen, charisma, and panache of her mentor. In 2003, Harris came in second with about a third of the vote for San Francisco district attorney in her first primary to force a runoff that she won over Hallinan, her former boss. She similarly won a third of the primary vote for California attorney general in 2010 before beating Republican Steve Cooley by less than 1 percent in the general election. Her run for the presidency similarly underwhelmed, and she dropped out in December of 2019 before the first contest to decide the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee.

Willie Brown’s political career relied on Willie Brown. Kamala Harris’s political career, at least at its earliest stages, relied on Willie Brown, too.

She became his girlfriend. He appointed her to the state Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board and the California Medical Assistance Commission, positions which put hundreds of thousands of dollars in her bank account for minimal work.

“Yes, we dated,” he wrote four years ago of their 1994-1995 romance. “It was more than 20 years ago. Yes, I may have influenced her career by appointing her to two state commissions when I was Assembly speaker. And I certainly helped with her first race for district attorney in San Francisco.”

Harris showed little gratitude. “His career is over,” she told SF Weekly in 2003. “I will be alive and kicking for the next 40 years. I do not owe him a thing.”

The patronage jobs and the BMW Brown gave her suggest otherwise.

… Who Was Linked to Jim Jones

Harris called her association with Brown “an albatross hanging around my neck.” But women do not date bald, short, married men three decades their senior because they drag them down. They date them because they give them cars, ply them with money, and expose them to — among other things — opportunity.

This was not the first time that, in the transactional politics of San Francisco, one of its players displayed ingratitude toward Brown. In the late 1970s, Jim Jones, boosted by Assemblyman Brown, City Supervisor Harvey Milk, Mayor George Moscone, and other local power players, flashed the middle finger to his amused congregants behind Brown.

Like Harris, Jones owed a tremendous debt to Brown. If not for Brown, Harris would never be on the cusp of a presidential nomination. Alas, also if not for Brown, Jim Jones could not have accomplished what he did, either.

We hate our benefactors.

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Jim Jones appeared on Willie Brown’s radar in a massive way in 1975, when the latter lobbied the former to provide manpower (and, some claimed, unfaithful electors) to propel George Moscone to the San Francisco mayor’s office in an extremely tight race against Republican John Barbagelata. In return, Moscone eventually appointed Jones to the city’s Housing Authority Commission, which he soon chaired. In 1976, Brown publicly compared the on-the-rise Peoples Temple leader to such figures as Albert Einstein and Martin Luther King.

The heavy lifting came the following year.

Defending the People’s Temple

In January 1977, Brown wrote Fidel Castro ahead of a Peoples Temple junket to Cuba. He lobbied the dictator, unsuccessfully, to extend a state visit to Jones as though he was the equivalent of a national leader:

At this time I ask that you consider extending a State visit to Reverend Jim Jones and his interracial party. For many years his work on behalf of policies harmonious to the spirit of brotherhood and cooperation among all peoples has been exemplary.

In his personal life he demonstrates the principle of brotherhood, having adopted children of all racial and ethnic backgrounds. His church is widely known for its humanitarian programs and its work has helped thousands of individuals and families who have suffered from great deprivation and personal hardship.

Reverend Jones has been consistently outspoken on issues of civil liberties and social justice, and has taken strong stands on behalf of the right of self-determination for all nations. He has encouraged leaders in government to avoid interventionist policies in the Caribbean and other parts of the world.

Because of his uncompromising stand against inequality and injustice, and his efforts to improve the conditions of those who have suffered such injustice, Reverend Jones has been highly commended by the Republic of Guyana. He is known not only in the United States but in other progressive nations as well for his courage and boldness in speaking out on significant issues.

Finally, let me say that I have worked with Jim for several years, and consider him a close personal friend and a highly trusted brother in the struggle for liberation.

That summer, a group called Concerned Relatives and some local journalists began publicizing stories of physical abuse, financial exploitation, and phony faith healings within Peoples Temple. Brown took to the group’s pulpit to defend it.

“When somebody like Jim Jones comes on the scene and talks about Angela Davis, for example, and the Black Panther Party having a right to survive and function, and constantly stresses the need for freedom of speech and equal justice under the law for all people, that absolutely scares the hell out of most everybody occupying positions of power in the system,” he explained in front of the cheering temple. He added, “I will be here when you are under attack, because what you are about is what the whole system ought to be about!”

Literal Kool-Aid Notwithstanding

After Peoples Temple fled San Francisco for its jungle community in Marxist Guyana, word spread of congregants kept as captive in Jonestown. Brown rushed to defend his political ally.

“His inspirational involvement in a solution to the everyday problems of the world is unmatched,” he wrote in a letter to Guyana’s Prime Minister Forbes Burnham on November 22, 1977. “Rev. Jim Jones is that person who can be helpful when all appears to be lost and hope is just about gone. Having him as a resident in your country can only be a plus no matter how short or long his stay.”

Jones stayed in Guyana from the date of Brown’s letter four days short of a year, when, on November 18, 1978, he orchestrated the mass suicide/murder of his followers after ordering the murder of Congressman Leo Ryan, three other journalists, and defector Patty Parks on a nearby airstrip. More than 900 people, including the man Willie Brown compared to Martin Luther King, died in Jonestown.

Quid Pro Quo

This did not kill Willie Brown’s career. He became speaker of the California Assembly in 1980 and mayor of San Francisco in 1996. The bridge from the bizarro left of the 1970s to entrenched left of the 2020s has a literal bridge above the San Francisco Bay named for him now.

He helped Jones for the same reason he helped Harris: He received something in return for his efforts. In the case of the former, Jones provided campaign volunteers, enthusiastic crowds for rallies and protests, and conscripted letter-writers to influence politicians and the press. (Not only Brown, but Jimmy Carter’s wife Rosalynn and many others benefited from this political machine). In the case of the latter, he received the comfort of an attractive girlfriend born thirty years and seven months after him.

Nearly a half-century ago, Willie Brown acted as local hype man for a mass murderer. Today, another unknown transformed into a political power player by Brown possesses a solid chance to win the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party.

The last time around, a Willie Brown production gained control of a mere jungle outpost and more than 900 people died. What disasters await when one of his acolytes presides over an entire country?


Daniel J. Flynn, a senior editor with The American Spectator, is the author of Cult City: Jim Jones, Harvey Milk, and 10 Days That Shook San Francisco (ISI Books, 2018). He recently completed the manuscript for a forthcoming biography of conservative theorist Frank S. Meyer.

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