Fernando Fernández/Staff Writer
Welp, folks, it finally happened.
In what came as a surprise to almost no one, the 2020 Democratic nominee for President—former V.P. Joe Biden—has officially selected California Senator Kamala Harris to be his running mate.
Quite the bittersweet moment, if you ask me.
On the one hand, it’s quite awesome to have the first woman of color on a major party ticket. In my view, this represents yet another stepping stone towards my ideal vision of the country: one in which true equality of opportunity is a reality, and one in which all citizens—regardless of race, gender, class, etc.—can truly be whatever they wish.
On the other hand though, almost everything about the selection signifies a very bitter pill to swallow for me. That’s because Harris not only represents the wrong strategic pick for the Biden campaign, but also the wrong type of politics to meet this crucial moment in our country’s history.
You see, according to a recent New York Times article, Biden picked Harris because “no other candidate scored as highly with Mr. Biden’s selection committee on so many of their core criteria for choosing a running mate.”
Now, what were their core criteria, you may ask? Simple. Above all, whatever would “help him win.”
In their minds, the racial diversity that Harris brings to the ticket is just what they need to excite the very demographics that Biden is struggling with right now: non-white voters.
According to the recent polling data, Biden is actually underperforming Hillary Clinton among said voters.
Among African Americans, for instance, Biden has only managed to accrue 83% of support, while Hillary Clinton won over 88% of them, back in 2016. It’s much worse among Hispanics, with Biden having accrued a mere 58% of support while Clinton won 67% four years ago.
Now, while Biden has indeed been able to make up for that with gains among other crucial demographics, such as older voters and white voters without a college degree, the fact of the matter remains that such shortcomings are not a good look for his campaign.
I do remain skeptical, however, that Kamala Harris is the solution to said woes.
For starters, African Americans — the demographic that Biden is trying to appeal to the most with this pick — are not a monolith. While many are, indeed, excited about Biden’s V.P. pick, others are not. The reaction has been a mixed bag, with young African American voters, as revealed in recent articles by The Guardian and The New York Times, being less enthused by the pick than their older counterparts.
You then couple all of that with the fact that Harris failed to gain traction among African American voters back when she was running during the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, and one starts to see that, while Harris may not be a disastrous pick, as things look currently, she is not really anything special.
At best, she represents a strategically inconsequential pick, hence why it is the wrong one, in my view.
Now, on to her politics.
Harris’ record as California Attorney General is nothing short of abysmal, in my view. While serving as the states’ top law enforcement officer, she embodied everything that’s wrong with the modern-day criminal justice system.
And despite Supreme Court orders to reduce the state prison population, in accordance with the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment, Harris constantly pushed back on said orders in order to retain the cheap labor provided by the inmates.
Meanwhile, at the same time that all of this is transpiring, Harris declined to prosecute corrupt donors to her political operation, such as Steve Mnuchin (the current U.S. Secretary of the Treasury), and even failed to cooperate with the victims of Catholic clergy child sex abuse.
At a time when millions of people have taken to the streets to protest the injustices and the corruption of our failed criminal justice system, Harris simply fails to meet this moment.
Furthemore, at a time when we are facing a global pandemic, and an economic catastrophe, the likes of which we have rarely seen before, incrementalism will not work — and California Senator Kamala Harris has proven to embody just that.
For instance, back in March, Harris championed her signature LIFT Act, which would provide Americans with $500 dollars a month, to compensate for rising unemployment.
The problem, though? Nobody can survive off $500 a month.
Harris should have known that, but instead of expanding on her original proposal, she settled for politics as usual. And although she has since moved to a more adequate solution by raising it to $2,000 a month, that’s the thing—it wasn’t her first instinct. She had to be pushed there because at her core, she is an incrementalist.
Even when she has backed a bold transformative solution, like Medicare-for-all, (single-payer healthcare) for instance, she often backtracks on her original commitment, upon the slightest show of pressure from outside forces.
It is very simply who she is, and that’s incredibly worrying to me.
You see, if Biden is elected, he’s going to inherit a catastrophe the likes of which few presidents have inherited before. And as an old-school moderate incrementalist himself, it is imperative that he be surrounded by the right people who pressure him to pursue a bolder and more transformative agenda. And if the Harris pick signals anything to me, it is that he does not intend to surround himself with said people.
And we all know what happened the last time that a President inherited a big mess and failed to pursue the necessary transformative change to tackle it.
We ended up with U.S. President Donald Trump.
Featured image by Gage Skidmore on Flickr.
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