Sources: NYT, CNN, Reuters |
As the 2020 Presidential Election draws near, many Americans are anxiously awaiting the announcement of Joe Biden’s running mate. The presumptive Democratic nominee has gained significant traction in recent months and has made history for pledging to make his Vice President a woman if elected. Since the March 15th debates where Mr. Biden announced this plan, his campaign has interviewed and surveyed dozens of women for the Veep position. Biden is expected to announce his VP pick by August first, but in the meantime many news outlets, most notably the NYT, have given their own analyses of which women are the likeliest to be selected for this position. Here’s my analysis of the “top four” women being considered for this position, in order of likeness to be chosen.
1 – Kamala Harris
Bio: 55 years old, senator from California since 2017, former state prosecutor from San Francisco and State Attorney General, former 2020 Democratic Presidential candidate.
Pros: Harris is intelligent, fiery, and charismatic. Her decades of political experience and personality command the respect of whomever she is talking to, and would give her great leverage in a debate. She is arguably the most well-known VP candidate, and is popular amongst both progressive and minority voters, which will help gain support from discouraged “Bernie Bros” who are hesitant to vote for Biden. Harris is also a Woman of Color who is both Asian-American (Indian) and African-American (Jamaican), and as a possible president she will be a shining light to facilitate greater minority representation in government. Her age, 55, is old enough to command respect and allow people to take her seriously, but young enough to allow her to connect with younger voters and prioritize today’s most critical social issues (i.e. racial inequality, lgbtq rights, climate crisis, etc).
Cons: Harris’ experience as a federal prosecutor certainly has played into her debate style, which is cutting, sharp, and politically charged. There is a possibility for her to misstep in her speech or say something that could turn off more moderate republican and independent voters. However, her assertiveness and willingness to cut into her enemy’s weaknesses might help her train Biden on how to effectively combat Trump’s bullying debate style. Harris also comes from a generally Blue state (California), so she would not be able to help Biden reclaim disengaged Republican or swing state voters. As VP, she wouldn’t be the deciding vote for a lot of voters as opposed to a Woman from a region like the midwest or south. The people that Harris attracts politically are also very progressive and left-leaning voters who already would have voted for Biden, so again, she won’t help much in garnering voters Biden wouldn’t have won otherwise.
2 – Elizabeth Warren
Bio: 70 years old, Senator from Massachusetts since 2013, former Harvard Law professor, former 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate, former expert on bankruptcy who worked with the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau.
Pros: Warren poses a glaringly progressive contrast to Biden, who is more moderate and centrist in his political beliefs. Her title and extensive political career, like Harris’s, have both given her national recognition, and she has been in political office for long enough to be trusted by voters skeptical about the future of our country. Warren’s debate style is elegant and powerful, and she very easily captivates the audience with her one-liner messages. Additionally, her vast experience working with education (both as a teacher, professor, and scholar) would provide fresh insight into how to reform America’s education system, both through legislative action and economic relief.
Cons: Warren’s demographics can be a turnoff for some voters: she’s old, white, and very progressive, so doesn’t pose much contrast from Biden. Interestingly enough, most voters who align with her views are both young and POC, and most voters of similar demographics to Warren are far more conservative/moderate politically. This could prove to create tension since many progressive voters will feel disenfranchised/underrepresented with an all-white, all-elderly ticket. Additionally, Warren’s progressive nature doesn’t help garner support from independents or disengaged Republican voters. This, combined with the fact that Massachusetts has been a historically Blue state since 1988, will not help to expand Biden’s reach past the typical progressive-moderate Democrat mashup.
3 – Keisha Lance Bottoms
Bio: 50 yrs old, Mayor of Atlanta since 2018, served two terms on Atlanta city council
Pros: Bottoms is relatively young and politically in-touch with current issues, especially police brutality and legislative reforms, both of which she has tackled significantly in Atlanta. She is an outspoken advocate for racial equality and is popular among progressive (especially minority) voters. She is a WOC (Black) and, like Harris, will help to promote Black Americans/POC to engage in American politics, a heavily male- and white-dominated field. Bottoms also serves in a red district, so if on the ticket, she can help to gain back republican voters and socially conservative Georgia natives.
Cons: Bottoms isn’t that well-known outside of Georgia and is relatively new to the political scene since she has only a few years of political experience. It also will prove very difficult for her to adjust from being a mayor to the Vice President (potentially President), a task which requires a huge expansion of her worldview from regional to national.
4 – Val Demings
Bio: 63 yrs old, House representative from Florida since 2017, former Orlando Chief of Police after being an officer in the ranks for decades
Pros: Demings serves in a red district, and, like Bottoms, can sway Republican/Independent voters to support Biden. Florida is also our country’s largest swing state, so Demings’s support could attract a lot of Floridians who are undecided about whom to vote for due to both familial or political pressure to pick Trump. She is outspoken on important social issues such as gun control and abortion rights, both of which are critical to progressive voters.
Cons: Demings doesn’t have a lot of political experience, especially regarding national issues, as most of her experience has been in regional offices. She also served as the Chief of Police in Orlando during a period of time (2007-2011) when the district was involved in significant police brutality/excessive use of force allegations. This possibly could be a turnoff to progressive/minority voters, or serve as a point of weakness for Trump to possibly exploit in the future.
Overall, each of these women are individually very qualified for the VP position, but Biden must pick the woman he feels is the most prepared to lead the country from day one on the job.