Roar writer Hanna Pham on the imminent choice of Joe Biden’s vice president, three potential candidates, and why the nominee must do more with his selection than fulfil a diversity quota.
As the 2020 election edges closer to fruition, speculation regarding likely Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s pick for vice president is a topic of hot discussion. While no official announcement has been made, Biden has made it clear that he is solely considering female candidates for the position. Upon closer inspection of VP hopefuls, it is likely a woman of colour will be on Biden’s ticket.
If Biden were to win, not only would his administration make history by having the first female vice president, the choice would also be a step forward cultivating “a more caring and equal society”. According to a report from Westminster Foundation for Democracy and the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London, women holding political roles concentrate on alleviating issues for the vulnerable in society, and on creating a more “collaborative and inclusive” political climate. In effect, a woman of colour for vice president would lead to more representation for marginalised groups. Not only that, but the aforementioned traits “represent the key ingredients to drive economies, ensure stability and improve quality of life”.
While the rationale for a woman of colour as vice president is obvious when considering that Biden is an elderly white man, his pick for VP must go beyond fulfilling a diversity quota by being a tough and well-spoken campaigner. Biden needs someone who will stand strong against President Trump and capture demographics whose support Biden himself has failed to gain. A key area in which Biden is lacking is the mobilization of Republicans who have retreated from supporting President Trump. As the United States plunges deeper into economic depression and as Covid-19 cases skyrocket, President Trump loses more and more support each day from both the Republican party and conservative citizens.
The Lincoln Project, a group of Republicans against Trump, has made it a priority to mock Trump, and even benefit from the funding of like-minded Democrats. Likewise, Trump’s support from the white working class has also waned, with nearly half of the 18-39 bracket in this demographic believing that Trump has been a terrible president. However, over half of those in the 18-39 and 40-64 age brackets still intend on voting for Trump. With this in mind, do any current vice-presidential hopefuls have the potential to push the conservative vote towards Biden?
According to Biden’s confidantes, the pick for vice president has tapered to either Kamala Harris or Susan Rice. Both candidates have years of experience and controversy alike. To start with, Susan Rice builds off Biden’s best-selling point — close proximity to President Obama. Rice worked in the Obama administration as both an ambassador to the United Nations and then as national security advisor. While she has garnered criticism from the GOP for misleading Americans regarding the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, her son John David Rice-Cameron is the head of the Republican group at Stanford. Even though Rice is a poster child for Obama-era liberalism, her son’s conservative political stance could be leveraged in order to promote a bridging of the divide between right and left.
On the other hand, Harris has a reputation for being a tough politician due to her time on the Senate floor and her past as a prosecutor. Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs upholds the portrait of Harris as strong, stating that “she’s someone who believes in the rule of law… not afraid to speak to where we need to be”. Furthermore, compared to Susan Rice, Harris is more popular among battleground state Independent voters as a choice for the vice-presidential nominee. Appeasing Independent voters is crucial in Biden’s campaign and would lead to considerable leverage over President Trump. However, Harris does not the universal support of the Democratic party behind her. Donors from the Bay Area of her own state of California have backed another potential pick, Tammy Duckworth. Former California Democratic Party Chair John Burton has concerns that previous conflicts between Biden and Harris could be utilized by the GOP to lambaste the campaign.
It seems likely that the Vice President pick will occur before the end of the month. Despite confidantes’ claims, nothing is set in stone until Biden himself makes an official announcement. For all we know, Biden could make a decision out of left-field and choose Senator Duckworth, an amputee Iraq war veteran who is a lifelong public servant. All of the top contenders for vice president, barring Elizabeth Warren, are united in the fact that they are powerful women of colour. However, the final pick must go beyond just being a posterchild for diversity for the Biden campaign, and must be able to help him acquire support from astray Trump voters and Independent voters in battleground states.