Election 2020

Biden's VP Pick Checks 

All The Right Boxes

By Cheryl Eichar Jett

   EDWARDSVILLE, Ill., (RP NEWS) - 8/17/2020 - One hundred years nearly to the day (August 18, 1920) after the ratification of the 19th Amendment that guaranteed American women (white women, anyway) the vote, a multi-racial woman – Kamala Harris – made history this past week as the first woman of color to run for vice-president on a major

Graph courtesy of statista
party ticket. After a closely-followed, much-speculated, but tightly-held process to determine his pick, former vice-president Joe Biden selected Senator Harris (D-CA) and on Tuesday, August 11, he announced his pick via Twitter. His tweet was picked up immediately and news outlets quickly spread the announcement. Republican mistruths and conspiracies were not far behind.

   In many opinions, including my own, Sen. Harris checks all the right boxes to serve as former vice-president Joe Biden's running mate. Some of these are obvious. She's a woman – of color. And some check marks have been on display – in spades – particularly since the announcement. Motivated supporters contributed, allowing the campaign to rake in $48 million in as many hours. And, fulfilling one of the modern roles of a vice-presidential candidate, Harris has shown that she's capable of assuming the role of attack dog.

   So what are the ways that Harris fills the bill as Biden's vice-presidential candidate – and as vice-president, should their Democratic ticket win the election?

Attack Dog

   Harris has already proven that she can competently handle the task of launching attacks on the opposition. At their August 11 press conference, she and Biden seemed to already have their routine down pat. Biden outlined issues and touched on policies, while Harris offered attacks on the Trump administration's failures, followed by assurances that Biden would capably lead their new administration. Several pundits have been heard commenting on Harris' ability to “throw a real good punch.” And Joy Reid, MSNBC host of “The ReidOut,” commented that “anyone who criticizes her will face a wall of opposition.” Harris has been a fierce and consistent critic of Trump. Reid has called her the “anti-Trump.”

Kamala Harris / Wikimedia Commons

 Female During the Trump Era

   Of course, this is a historically significant pick in the era of the “me too” movement, the centennial of the 19th Amendment, and the surge of women voters and electees in the 2018 election. Harris is the first African American, the first Asian American, and the first Howard University (a historically black college) vice-presidential candidate on a major party ticket. Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) said, “This is huge.” Presidential historian Michael Beschloss described the pick as it “recognizes the glory of diversity in America.” Beschloss added that Harris' entire career had been spent “defending the rule of law, at the time the rule of law is under grave danger from the president.” “A really qualified choice and future leader of the Democratic party,” said political consultant James Carville.

Biden's Preference For a Close Connection

   Harris became good friends with Biden's son Beau when they were fellow state attorney generals – Harris in California and Beau Biden in Delaware. That's when Joe Biden first met Harris. Sharp-eyed journalists and photographers zeroed in on Biden's notes at a campaign event on July 28, which at the top of the list said “do not hold grudges,” assumed to be a reference to Harris' sharp attack on Biden in the first primary debate over Biden's opposition to school busing in the 1970s. Biden apparently kept his own advice in mind. Columnist Eugene Robinson commented that both Biden and Harris have the empathetic connection thing going for them.”

Harris' Multi-Racialism Offers Many Americans A Connection

   Harris' Indian mother and Jamaican father emigrated to the US, where they married and had two daughters, Kamala and Maya. At her graduation from Howard University, Harris looked around and realized how many graduates looked like her – multi-racial. In John Blake's article, “Why Kamala Harris as VP would be a revelation for Black America,” Blake states, “Presidential candidate Joe Biden's selection of Harris as his running mate could have a similar impact. Thousands of students at Howard and other historically Black colleges and universities – known as HBCUs – can now look at the 55-year-old Harris' ascension and say the same: She looks like me.”

Articulate and Strong Debater

   Joe Biden, if he didn't already know, found this out during the televised first primary debate when Harris went after him on his school busing stance back in the 1970s. Reverend Al Sharpton has called her a “very good debater. She will give Vice-President Pence a very bad evening in the debates.” At the same time, she is clear-eyed about what will be coming at her, both on the vice-presidential debate stage and in the opposition's ads and tweets. Harris has stated in interviews that she knows what's coming from the Trump campaign – “lies.”

Reputation as Champion For The People

   Harris' reputation-making achievement as California Attorney General was the $20 billion in settlement funds for California homeowners that her negotiations eventually garnered. Playing hardball and pulling out of the nationwide mortgage settlement talks in 2011, Harris was under fire from housing rights advocates and union leaders for doing so. In the long run, the larger mortgage settlement – the $20 billion – finally came through to mitigate some of the disastrous effects of the financial and housing crisis of 2008.

Liberal Voting Record In The Senate

   Despite a reputation that seems to persist as a “law and order” or “top cop” senator, Harris has maintained one of the most liberal voting records in the Senate during her term as junior senator from California, according to watchdog groups. A recent ranking by the government watchdog website GovTrack.us ranked Harris more liberal than Bernie Sanders.

In Duo With Biden, Gives Voters A Clear Choice

   The Biden-Harris campaign presents a clear choice between government for the people, and government for one's own purposes and pockets, as exhibited by the Trump administration. The Biden-Harris team has been visible in the past week providing leadership on the COVID crisis that is sorely lacking from the current occupant of the White House. As Princeton University James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of African American Studies, author, and cable news commentator Eddie S. Glaude Jr. said recently, it will now be a “reckoning at the ballot box” between two very stark choices.

Fund Raising

   And finally, as mentioned above, her announcement as VP pick touched off a record-breaking wave of donations to the campaign. Of course, Biden is hoping that this is the tip of the iceberg as their campaign gathers steam. See: Biden Campaign Raise $48 Million in 2 Days

   As Harris continues to prove her mettle on these points, one can't help but think, even if it's a simplistic notion, that it's a rewarding nod to the 19th Amendment ratification 100 years ago, and to the suffragettes who made it happen.