Making History: Kamala Harris as Biden’s VP Pick

Kamala Harris is Named Joe Biden’s Vice-Presidential Running-Mate

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Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)

This is a photo of Kamala Harris speaking at a rally for her presidential campaign. This event was held at the 2019 Iowa Democratic Wing Ding at Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa.

Caitlynn Kelley, Editor and Journalist

After waiting what seemed like forever, Presidential Nominee and Former Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, picked California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate on Wednesday, August 19, 2020. On night 3 of the Democratic National Convention, Kamala Harris made history as the first woman of color Vice Presidential nominee backed by a major political party. According to Harris, her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, charged her with the following statement that has become her life’s motto: “You may be the first, but make sure you’re not the last.”

“You may be the first, but make sure you’re not the last.” ”

— Shyamala Gopalan Harris

Kamala Harris has been championed as Biden’s running mate due to her diverse background. Having women and women of color elected to positions of power gives politics a different lens and seeks to pay attention to the problems that affect diverse communities. Many women who have political clout see themselves as role models for girls and women to become politically active and potentially run for political office themselves someday. 

Those who support Kamala Harris as Biden’s Vice Presidential candidate call the nomination revolutionary in terms of race and gender. Diversity and representation are some of the main points that the Democract party likes to champion. The 116th Congress reigned in the most ethnically and racially diverse Congress in United States history. The Freshman class of the 116th Congress contains some of the most high profile and diverse candidates yet, such as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-District 14), Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Representative Deb Haaland (D-NM). 

Junior Chyanne Harris believes that Harris becoming Biden’s Vice Presidential pick is revolutionary, “Her as a VP is very groundbreaking because she is not only a woman, but also a black woman, so she is breaking barriers and giving more representation in the White House.”

Junior Stacy Vazquez calls Harris’s nomination as VP groundbreaking, “They keep telling us ‘Well anyone can be president,’ but we’ve never actually had a female candidate elected besides Hillary Clinton [who is] a white woman. Although her becoming president would have been a big step, she would still be a white person in power. I think that Harris is not just representing women. She is representing all the people out there that think they can’t make it because of their race or ethnicity. I think that her running for VP is already groundbreaking in itself. If she wins, it would be even better.”

Sophomore Jaelyn Munoz acknowledges that Harris’s nomination is revolutionary, but feels that it isn’t authentic,” Maybe because she is a woman, and she is of color. But she won’t be VP because Biden likes her and believes she can make a difference, it’ll be because he needs her to win.”

Chyanne Harris believes that Kamala Harris becoming Biden’s running mate has had a positive impact on the young. “Seeing a minority [woman…] in the White House and to see her be a nominee has a huge impact on the youth because if we weren’t interested in politics before, we are now…Most of us want to see her in that position and are rooting for her and for someone we know will make a change.”

Vazquez concurs with her and believes that Harris’s nomination has a good influence on today’s youth, “I am proud to see a minority candidate on that ballot. I feel like more people need to go out and be brave enough to become a nominee, including white people. I think this is a step toward more representation in politics. I think it has an impact on [our] youth for sure. Many kids dream of becoming president or vice president, but then see only white males in that position. Don’t get me wrong there’s nothing wrong with a white male president, but, I think it could be a little discouraging not having a lot of representation. I think this will show little girls that think they can’t make it because the system isn’t in their favor, that anyone can make it.”

Munoz states that actions should matter more than a candidate’s race or ethnicity, “I don’t care what she looks like or where she comes from, as long as she is standing up and doing things that are right. I think it depends on who you ask, because for some youth it doesn’t have an effect, and [for] some it does.”

Harris was a part of a list of potential nominees for Biden’s Vice Presidential running mate. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, Georgian Democrat Stacey Abrams, and former Obama administration National Security Advisor Susan Rice were some of the other contenders on the list. 

Before becoming Biden’s running mate, Harris was a 2020 Presidential nominee herself, however she dropped out of the race on December 3, 2020 because she didn’t have enough money to help support the campaign. Many female voters, especially Black female voters, were excited to see a candidate who looks like them in the race. There are predictions that the Black female vote will bring Biden and Harris to the White House, based on the demographics major participation in the 2018 elections.

However, Nadia Brown, a professor at Purdue University, is not as enthusiastic about Harris being Biden’s running mate. Brown paints Harris’s tenure as a prosecutor as a career at odds with the Black community. Harris’s moderate political beliefs, and her seemingly outsider behavior at an event held in her honor at Howard University, a historically Black college, caused Brown to speculate there won’t be as much enthusiasm for her as the Democratic Party hopes. 

Harris’s prosecutorial record has put her under scrutiny for some voters. There have been questions about her handling of a child sexual abuse case, protecting a technician accused of misusing evidence and stealing cocaine, and refusing to comply with an order from the Supreme Court demanding California reduce its prison population. Additionally, after George Floyd’s death, Harris advocated for the banning of choke holds and no knock warrants. This caused her to be called out for not being tough enough on police brutality, but it also painted her as a moderate who is open minded to progressive ideals.

Despite some questionable decisions during her tenure as Attorney General and District Attorney in the state of California, she has done some great things, as well. She started a website called Open Justice, where criminal justice information is open to the public in order to make the police accountable for what they do. Additionally, Harris supports decriminalizing border crossings by undocumented immigrants and 6 month paid leave from work due to personal, medical, or domestic violence problems.

Junior Chyanne Harris has a different perspective from Professor Brown on Kamala Harris as VP [Vice President], stating, “When I heard that Kamala Harris was Biden’s VP, I was very happy because she is a good candidate and she is very qualified.” Chyanne believes that with Kamala’s experience as a Senator and a Prosecutor, that she will be ready for being Vice President. She further states that Kamala Harris is a good role model in the Black community, especially with her Vice Presidential nomination, “Like I said, she is breaking barriers and is showing black girls and black people in general, and minorities as a whole, that we have a voice and we can work hard and make [the] change in our country that we so desperately need. She understands what it’s like to be treated differently because of her skin color, so she will bring those issues to the [office] if elected.”

Junior Stacey Vazquez was surprised when she heard that Kamala Harris was chosen as Biden’s running mate. “I was honestly very surprised. I think it was a risky decision since the US has a large portion of conservative people who probably are not ready to see a minority candidate, especially a woman, running for Vice President [or] President. This could eventually affect the amount of public votes Biden gets. However, I’m really happy with his decision because Kamala is a great senator and isn’t afraid to speak up. I think she would be a great option for Vice President. I’m glad he took the risk. I’ve been waiting my whole life to see a woman in such a high position.” Vazquez further reflects, “I think it’s great that she’s brave enough to go out there and run for the position. I think many women are afraid ro run for office…. Clinton ran for President in 2016 and that was a huge step towards female empowerment. Harris is also a POC [person of color], so that’s an even greater step.”

Sophomore Jaelyn Munoz believes that Biden picking Kamala Harris for VP wasn’t for genuine reasons. “I think he is doing it for show. He just wants to win the election, and have some type of power… And what better way to win the election when you have a person of color who is also a woman. He has been called out for being racist in the past…and sexist… and now he wants a woman of color right by his side.Munoz knows Harris’s prosecutorial history, and believes that it takes different experience to be a Vice President, “Yes I do know about her history, but there is a difference when it comes to being a prosecutor [or] senator than running the country. I think it’s a joke. Some people just want to be in office for power, and that goes for both her and Joe Biden.”

Harris’s tenure as California’s senator has painted her as one of the most liberal senators in Congress. She is tough on gun control, insisting those who sell more than 5 guns per year conduct background checks on buyers, she is pro-LGBTQ+, and she supports a $10 trillion plan that would make USA carbon emission free by 2045, meaning she would come after the major polluters. 

Along with Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Harris supports the Green New Deal, a bill that is supposed to bring into consideration how environmental changes affect marginalized communities The Green New Deal is progressive legislation that acknowledges that the US is advantaged and has created most of the carbon emissions on the planet. It advocates for having zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and the usage of emission free energy sources. 

Vasquez believes “Harris will help us take a huge step towards equality and a much better system than we have now. She is going to work hard to end policies that really are not any good like the death penalty and solitary confinement. I actually like that she has moderate beliefs, but is also a little more liberal. That means that she believes in all the things that I do, but she also wants to preserve a little bit of the system and not go all out.”

No matter how the 2020 Presidential election in November turns out, Harris’s nomination as Joe Biden’s Vice-Presidential running mate is still a historic moment that is inspirational to many young girls and women.