Joe Biden has tapped California senator Kamala Harris as his vice presidential candidate for the election in November.
It’s a good choice. Elite-educated, the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants, a former prosecutor and incumbent senator, Harris ticks many of the right boxes.
When she herself ran for president earlier this year, I argued Harris was “ideologically right where many Democrats want their candidate to be.” She could appeal to key Democratic constituencies: “women, voters of color, party loyalists and West Coast progressives.”
(Recode reports that Harris is popular in Silicon Valley, where many entrepreneurs were worried Biden might ask anti-big tech Elizabeth Warren instead.)
Harris’ something-for-everyone quality became a liability in the primaries, when she faced a candidate just like that: Biden.
She made the mistake of running to the left, downplaying her record as a prosecutor, which could have appealed to conservative Democrats (they still exist!) and Romney-to-Clinton voters, and embracing Medicare-for-all (nationalizing health insurance), which didn’t persuade any Bernie Sanders or Warren voters to switch.
Biden resisted Medicare-for-all and argued for expanding Obamacare. (Which I agree is better approach.) Harris can use that to justify her about-face.
Her prosecutorial record can be an asset when Donald Trump is trying to portray Democrats as soft on crime.
Like Biden, Harris has committed to ending Trump’s trade wars and returning the United States to the Iran nuclear deal, which Europeans still support. She has argued for taking a harder line against Vladimir Putin’s Russia and Saudi Arabia, which Trump has allowed to get away with murder.
(Russia poisoned a defector, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter, Yulia, in England and props up a separatist insurgency in southeastern Ukraine. Saudi Arabia killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi and is responsible for tens of thousands of civilian deaths in the war in Yemen.)
If he is elected, Biden would be 82 years old by the time he could seek reelection in 2024. Harris would be a strong contender to take over by then.
I’m not sure promoting her criminal justice record as a positive is the best idea when the base wants serious criminal justice reform. It might depress turnout among the base. Trump could just use ads of Tulsi Gabbard annihilating her on this issue in the debates.
Do you think many left-wing voters are likely to stay home, or vote third party, if the alternative is four more years of Trump?
Whatever Harris’ shortcomings — from a left-wing perspective — on criminal justice, they pale in comparison to Trump’s.
On the other hand, it might help Democrats a little with suburbanites who voted Republican in 2012, 2016 or 2018.
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