With the opening of the Democratic party convention looming on August 17, Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden must soon select a running mate for Vice President. Biden has promised to choose a woman for the position, opting to prioritize gender before merit or experience.
On July 28, Biden had told reporters that he would announce his running mate during the first week of August. His campaign team has now delayed the announcement again.
Biden’s health and age have been discussed frequently by the media; he will turn 78 on November 20. If Biden defeats incumbent President Trump, he will be the oldest man ever to assume the role of President. With rumors of dementia, memory loss, and confusion swirling around his campaign, his choice for Vice President is of special importance.
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There is a very good chance that one of the mediocre candidates that Biden is considering, will one day become President of the most powerful country in the world. With the United States facing a pandemic, an economic downturn, racial tensions, and a litany of other issues, is the Democratic party grasping the magnitude of Biden’s selection? Is someone with minimal experience in politics the right choice for the job?
About a dozen favorites have been floated, including Senators Kamala Harris of California, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin. Also up for consideration are Florida congresswoman Val Demings and California representative Karen Bass, and two governors: Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer and New Mexico’s Michelle Lujan Grisham. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has also been mentioned, along with Susan Rice, who served as national security advisor under Obama.
Democrats have been enthusiastic about the possibility of an African-American pick, in the hopes of increasing Black support of their milquetoast and bland Presidential nominee. With this in mind, sources close to Biden have pushed Senator Harris, Susan Rice, and Karen Bass to the top of the list.
Harris fits the bill as the daughter of a Jamaican-born father and Indian-born mother, but has not generated interest among Black voters due to her reputation for being a tough prosecutor when she served as district attorney in San Francisco. Harris works tirelessly to raise the minimum wage, protect the rights of refugees and immigrants, and is in favor of Medicare for All. But does Harris take things far enough? She has been known to flip-flop on issues that are important to progressives and Democrats, and is not considered trustworthy to Biden’s camp.
Bass is currently suffering from a PR nightmare, as comments she made several years ago praising Scientology and Cuban dictator Fidel Castro were brought to public attention. And while she paints herself as an activist and reluctant politician, she has instead raised money from corporate interests and taken advantage of lobbyist giveaways much like her contemporaries have. She has been both warned and fined by the ethics commission in California. Bass’s comments praising Castro were made as recently as 2016.
Rice may have certain qualifications that Harris and Bass lack, namely her intelligence and experience with foreign policy, having previously served as a U.N. ambassador and senior advisor to Obama. She is also close and loyal to Biden. But in addition to her involvement in the 2012 Benghazi tragedy, Rice is considered to have an abrasive personality and lack political experience. She also didn’t gain any favor with Republicans when she literally asked, “why me?” in response to their critique of her handling of the Benghazi tragedy.
Whichever woman Biden chooses will have a steep learning curve ahead of her, as she moves from minimal political experience to possible President of the United States in the next few years.