Joe Biden choosing Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate was both unprecedented and conventional-historic news because she is the first Black woman and first Asian American to enter a major party ticket, but traditional because, in the end, she seemed to be the safest of candidates on his shortlist.
History and politics conspired to bring Biden to Sen. Kamala Harris. He had promised to choose a female running mate in the spring, an acknowledgement of the importance of women voters to the success of the Democrats in 2018 and expectations in 2020. Yet in a summer of racial reckoning, following George Floyd ‘s killing at the hands of Minneapolis police, Biden came under growing pressure not only to pick a woman but to pick a Black woman.
Biden’s preference for another explanation has been revealing. Although Harris had been a traditional pick, she may not have been a very easy choice. Her assault on Biden during his past first Democratic debate on forced racial busing left him battered and upset with many of his supporters. Given these sentiments, Harris could suit better than any of the other candidates, despite the first rule of vice-presidential selection, which is not to hurt.
Kamala Harris Privilege
As one Democrat put it, Biden showed by choosing Harris that he’ll do what he feels he has to do to win the race. That Biden was able to set aside the moment of controversy and look to the wider objective of winning in November is saying something about both his character and his desire to be president, a journey the started with his first run for president in 1988.
That doesn’t take anything away from Harris-or, for that matter, many of the others that have been under serious consideration. Harris has the privilege of being a national figure, and not surprisingly someone who went through a presidential campaign and witnessed the political battle that goes with running for the country’s highest office, even though she fell short. Most specifically, she is likely to be seen as someone who meets the first requirement of Biden, who is a vice president ready to be president.
Biden had been indebted to Black voters long before the national demonstrations that followed the Floyd killing. They have revived his weakened candidacy in South Carolina, pushing him from the endangered list to the Democratic field line. In Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada he had ended badly. Without Black voters-and a timely endorsement by House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., in his presidential campaigns he may have finished the nominating season 0-for-3.
Biden has spoken of himself within the Democratic Party as a transformative figure, someone who can help usher in a new generation of leaders. Harris suits the mould in two separate ways. First, at 55 she is considerably younger than Biden, who will be 78 years old when he takes the oath of office in January, should he prevail over Trump.
Yet if he is a transformative figure, he will now be seen as a White Democrat who has played a significant role in bridging racial differences in national politics, first as vice president of the first African American president, Barack Obama, and now as the presidential candidate who has raised a Black woman politically higher than any before her.
Harris also represents a coming-of-age Democratic Party for Black women. Black women are maybe now the most loyal voters in the alliance of the party, but they have not yet received the influence or respect that their allegiance might be expected to be ordered. While a candidate, Harris has made their lives and status a core part of her campaign and would be able to speak in the White House on their behalf if they elect her and Biden.
Biden had other choices. Early on, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who also ran against Biden but after South Carolina offered him a gleaming endorsement, seemed to be a possible finalist. But she took herself out of the race and said it was time for a coloured woman to be on the ticket, publicly.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., had made her mark as the candidate with the plans in the campaign and the Biden team soon adopted some of her suggestions when the nomination process ended unofficially. She had any number of discussions about strategy and vice presidency with Biden and his staff. Yet to party liberals, Warren was still considered to be too far to the left.
Biden looked down on other Black women seriously. Another has been Susan Rice, the Obama administration ‘s longtime national security advisor. She had developed a close bond with Biden and a successful working partnership. Biden may have seen her as the perfect option in the role of a governing partner. He is capable of establishing a relationship similar to the one he had with Obama. Yet she had never run for office, let alone endured national campaign rigours.
Vice-Presidential Selection Process
Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., was another prospective nominee whose price later began to grow. Since taking her House seat, she is the speaker of the California State Assembly. But the House leap to the national ticket seemed dangerous. This is as did some of her previous comments about Cuba and Fidel Castro.
While the vice-presidential selection process played out publicly and rivalry escalated. Harris also had her critics, who said she had run an unsuccessful campaign in different ways. She was low on politics, she may not be a true governing partner. Many liberals didn’t like her record as district attorney in San Francisco or as attorney general in California. It echoed the criticism she got during the time she ran for the White House.
There have been Democrats who have suggested the dust-up controversy would make Biden especially wary of choosing Kamala Harris. Nevertheless, the presumptive presidential candidate looked at something else. It might relate to his message of campaigning about wanting to unite people. In the statement he released announcing his decision, he remembered Kamala Harris. She had worked as California’s attorney general while Delaware’s attorney general was his son Beau. He died of brain cancer in 2015, and how he got to know her through that working relationship.
This is not the first time a candidate has named a running mate who ran a difficult campaign against them. In 1980, Ronald Reagan selected George H.W. Bush, even though he had dubbed Reagan’s signature economic agenda “voodoo economics.”
Often there are political potholes in making history with a vice presidential pick. This occurred in 1984 when Walter Mondale selected Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate. The vetting process is short-circuite as a last-minute decision. Also, questions soon emerges regarding the finances of her husband, a significant diversion for a period.
Politically disorder candidates drive astray in their decision. Many of the aides to Sen. John McCain convinced him in 2008 to take a chance on the little-known Sarah Palin, then Alaska’s governor. She wowed the Republican convention but was soon a liability. He fails for other reasons, including the financial crisis. Thus, struck that year in September, but his Palin selection remains an example of what not to do.
When Biden heads for his campaign, he is in a strong place. In national polls, he retains a clear lead and a lead in many of the most critical battleground states. With his vice-presidential option, he was not in a position to take a chance and eventually he didn’t have to. Harris’ selection drew plaudits around the party’s length and it was a moment of sheer emotion for some Black people. For Biden, it was the end of a long elimination cycle. It took him to the position that many Democrats expected when it started.