U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has announced that his running mate will be Kamala Harris, a senator from California. She is the first minority female in the history of the two parties to be selected as a vice presidential candidate. This, of course, increases the buzz around next week’s Democratic National Convention, which is also the week that celebrates the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. This amendment secured a woman’s right to vote, which gives this convention special significance.
However, Harris isn’t the first female to run for vice president. In 1984 and 2008, presidential candidates Walter Mondale and John McCain also selected female running mates Geraldine Ferraro and Sarah Palin, respectively. However, the odds were not in their favor. Both were hoping to make themselves a more appealing choice by thinking outside of the box, but instead, the two candidates lost by a wide margin of popular votes as well as Electoral College votes. As a result, whether it was Ferraro or Palin, both ended up leaving people with the impression they had been a foil character.
However, Harris has become Biden’s running mate at a point when he is already ahead of Trump in the polls, therefore the chances of making history are quite high. Additionally, Biden will be 78 at the time of the election, and as he has said himself, if there are complications with his health, Harris could become the first female president in U.S. history. Even if Biden were to complete his term, Harris, as vice president, will undoubtedly become a popular presidential candidate in the 2024 presidential election.
After news of Harris becoming Biden’s running mate was released, many African American commentators felt as if the Democratic Party had finally acknowledged African American voters who have long stood by the party. It also showed that Biden had not forgotten his losses in the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries, and his last line of defense, which was South Carolina, where African American voters supported him. As a result, he not only won South Carolina, but soon after overtook Bernie Sanders during Super Tuesday and won the presumptive Democratic presidential nomination.
After announcing in March that he would seek a female running mate, many were hoping that his choice would be from a minority background. After large scale protests due to the death of George Floyd, who died as a result of police brutality, the number of people calling on Biden to find an African American running mate continued to grow. With Biden’s 36 years of experience in the senate and eight years as vice president, it was thought that the best partner would be a governor with executive experience. But among the few African American female politicians who have emerged as senators, congresswomen, and mayors, none had been a governor. Congresswomen and mayors are not chosen through state-wide elections, and only Harris who had run twice for California state attorney general and once for the senate, had such qualifications.* Having participated in the Democratic primaries, she not only had plenty of campaigning experience but had also been inspected by both the media and her opponents. Whether it is her political background or policy orientation, it’s unlikely we’ll be hearing news of any misconduct, thus making her a safe choice.
At the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Attorney General William Barr and the nominee Kavanaugh had a hard time evading Harris’ pointed questioning. It’s no wonder, then, that when Trump found out that Harris would be Biden’s running mate, he called “nasty,” “horrible” and “disrespectful.” “Nasty” was also the word Trump used to describe Hillary Clinton. His repeated use of the word only reinforced his hatred of powerful women, and will cause ambitious white women in the workplace who have received higher education to become fed up with the Republican Party, which will be detrimental to his campaign.
*Editor’s note: The author appears to be mistaken about the election of members of Congress, who are elected by voters throughout the state the candidates seek to represent.
The author is a researcher at the Institute of International Relations of National Chengchi University.
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