Why Biden’s Running Mate Should Be a Woman of Color

Elizabeth McCann/Staff Writer

This November may mark the fourth time ever that a woman’s name would be included on the election ballot in the United States.

During last month’s Democratic debate, presidential candidate Joe Biden said that he would choose a woman as his running mate. 

Names that have been rumored to be in his consideration since then include: Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Amy Klobachar, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Sen. Catherine Cortes Masto, Rep. Stacey Abrams, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Sen. Tammy Duckworth.

Being the only Democratic candidate still standing in the 2020 presidential race makes Biden the party’s presumptive nominee. As a result, November’s ballot could be Republican Donald Trump versus Democrat Joe Biden—plus his female running mate. 

Given how diverse the country is now and how long the disenfranchised have waited for a seat at the table, I believe having just a woman as a running mate is not enough. That woman needs to be a progressive woman of color—specifically a Native American, Asian American, African American or “Latinx” woman.

With the end of the other Democratic presidential campaigns, the last person standing is a white man in his 70s who has been in politics for almost 50 years. This does not sit comfortably with the increase of progressive youths in the Democratic party. 

In comparison to his former competitors for the Democratic nomination, Biden is more moderate in the spectrum of Democratic ideologies than progressives like Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders. I believe Biden himself can gain the support of moderate Republicans while a progressive running mate could expand the support from the more liberal Democrats. 

If Biden is elected, he will go down as the oldest President in the history of the United States. To compensate for his age, he needs a running mate who is younger and can bring enthusiasm while shining light on issues important to young progressives and reverse low youth voter turnouts.

Though Biden may understand struggle from his humble beginnings in a blue collar family and as a single father to two boys, he does not understand it from the perspective of a minority living in America. He needs a woman who has gone through these struggles to give him first-hand insight because his decisions as an executive will affect the lives of minorities.

The two largest non-white groups to vote this 2020 election will be “Latinxs” with 32 million eligible to vote, followed by the 30 million African Americans eligible to vote. Both marginalized groups are critical in this election, as their high numbers can greatly affect the results. 

Minorities feel ignored in the continual inequality in America. Reports based on ethnicity and race have shown how blacks are more likely than whites to contract coronavirus and that “Latinx” communities are hit hardest by it. The disproportional effect of COVID-19 on minorities is due to their poor economic and social conditions. 

With a minority woman as a potential vice president, these conditions will not be ignored. 

The lack of representation of women and minorities in politics also needs to change. With important decisions made across all three branches of government, white, middle aged men cannot be the majority of decision makers who affect the lives of every American. The playing field needs to be leveled so women and ethnic minorities can be equally represented. To see minorities in places of power will validate other minorities and inspire them to pursue elected positions.

The first step to this transition can be through a vice president woman of color.

Biden has a solid African American base that has supported him through his Senate elections and vice president nomination. On the other hand, Biden has not done so well with capturing the support of “Latinx” voters. Many “Latinx” voters are younger and more left-leaning, and hold his past rhetoric of immigration policies, like deportation, against him.

So, should Biden further solidify his African American base by naming a black nominee like Kamala Harris or Stacey Abrams in gratitude for their constant support, or should he venture to nominate a “Latinx” woman to procure the support of this community? 

My answer is for Biden to choose the most capable woman out of these two ethnic groups to be his running mate. 

I believe a “Latinx” running mate would be better for Biden because he already promised a Supreme Court seat to an African American woman and he desperately needs more “Latinx” support. However, I do not believe there is a prominent “Latinx” woman in politics ready to be his running mate. 

Though some of the contenders for vice president for Biden are “Latinx,” some do not speak Spanish fluently or did not grow up surrounded by Hispanic culture. Case in point: Sen. Cortes Masto and Gov. Lujan Grisham. This would be counterintuitive since the purpose of having a running mate of color is to provide inside knowledge and understanding and representation for minorities.

Above all, this woman needs to be energetic, competent and capable, as the 2016 election has proven that experience is not necessarily a requirement. Right now, Biden desperately needs a young, progressive woman of color ready to mobilize his young Democratic base.

Featured image by Gage Skidmore on Flickr.


The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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