Kamala Harris is Selected as Biden’s VP Pick

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Caroline Owen

Sources: NYT, Washington Post, Reuters | On August 11th, 2020, modern American history was made. At around 4pm EST, Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for President of the United States, announced his running mate after nearly five months of media speculation. From a pool of over a dozen women, Biden selected Kamala Harris, the woman considered most likely to be chosen by several news sources, and his former rival in the early stages of the 2020 Democratic Presidential Nominee Debates.

 

Biden pledged on March 15th to pick a woman as his running mate, and spent nearly five months deciding on whom to choose to be his second-in-command. This decision was delayed so long for two main reasons:

 

1.Biden’s announcement to make his VP a woman caused controversy on both sides of the political spectrum. Opponents of Biden’s plan claimed that it devalued the intelligence of a female running mate as he would be giving her a political “free pass” running mate solely based on her gender and not on her ability to lead the nation. Biden had to reassure the public and political enemies that the woman he picked would have been the most qualified among male and female candidates; due to this, his selection faced much closer scrutiny than that of any major political candidate before.

 

2. The BLM movement and current racial climate further complicated the search as Biden had to grapple with another issue: identity politics. Some political strategists feared that Biden choosing a Woman of Color would be seen by conservatives as a ploy to win over Black voters. In a recent NYT poll, 82% of all participants in a survey (of different races, ages, and political ideologies) stated that race of the VP would not be a deciding factor for whom they vote in the Presidential Election. That being said, Biden was urged by several high-level politicians (most notably Amy Klobuchar) to pick a Woman of Color as his running mate. Additionally, all but one (Elizabeth Warren) of the top women he was considering for the position are WOC.

 

In summary, Biden had to decide not only who would be the most qualified for the position, but also who could help him win on a combination ticket of different races and political experiences. Winning over Black voters, specifically in states like South Carolina and Georgia, has been a recent focus of the Biden campaign. Nevertheless, Biden has stressed numerous times in tweets and in official statements that he chose Kamala because she was the “most qualified individual” for the position and that she will bring back much needed enthusiasm and energy to the Biden campaign. 

 

Biden’s VP pick is an incredibly historical one: Harris, who is both Indian-American and African-American (Jamaican), is the first woman of Black or Asian descent to be nominated for a major national office, and is only the third woman to ever be nominated for an American Vice Presidential position on a major political party. Harris was breaking political records even before becoming the VP nominee: she’s the second Black woman to ever serve as a US Senator, and was the first Southeast Asian and/or Black US Attorney General. For many marginalized voters, specifically Black women, Harris is a beacon of hope, a shining point of Female and POC representation in a primarily white- and male-dominated field. 

 

No matter how the election turns out, it’s clear that many Americans are committed to creating a new vision of the Democratic party: one that is inclusive to all races and genders and supports those based on political merit/experience, not political connections. While Kamala may not be the perfect pick for all Democrats, her selection as VP has many voters excited and hopeful for a new age of American politics, as well as for greater minority representation in government.