- After four months of waiting, Joe Biden announced on Tuesday that Sen. Kamala Harris would be his Vice-Presidential running mate.
- We’ve published numerous articles predicting the California Senator to be his pick for reasons ranging from an influx of last-minute Wikipedia page edits to her improved public speaking skills and experience as a campaigner — a necessary skill due to Biden’s mental state.
- Harris’s nomination has excited centrist liberals, frustrated Bernie Sanders supporters/leftists, and sent conservatives into a frenzy – attacking the former Democratic presidential candidate for being too radical on social issues.
- The pick didn’t help Joe Biden’s 2020 election betting odds; he’s shortened from a –180 favorite to –135 at BetOnline.
It may not be the most attractive quality, but I love to say, “I told you so!”
Especially in this line of work.
After months of speculation, Joe Biden finally made it official, selecting his former Democratic primaries rival, Kamala Harris, to share the ticket as his Vice-Presidential running mate. The announcement was made in a series of tweets on Tuesday afternoon, calling the California senator – and former CA Attorney General — “a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants.”
Back when Kamala was Attorney General, she worked closely with Beau. I watched as they took on the big banks, lifted up working people, and protected women and kids from abuse. I was proud then, and I’m proud now to have her as my partner in this campaign.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) August 11, 2020
Kamala was the favorite to be nominated for months – especially since May when Amy Klobuchar’s history as a district attorney who refused to bring charges against the same officer who killed George Floyd became public knowledge shortly after the protests began.
Klobuchar was Harris’s primary competition for the job and the strategically smarter choice (before Floyd’s death) — in terms of the Electoral College — due to her Midwestern roots. Harris’s home state of California is an automatic “gimme” for the Democrats, while Klobuchar’s Minnesota and nearby Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan will likely decide the election.
With the Minnesota Senator out of the way and mounting pressure on Biden to pick a woman of color, Kamala was the obvious choice.
Other candidates like Susan Rice, Tammy Duckworth, Val Demings, and Karen Bass were rumored to be in the running as well. They all lacked one or more of the following: experience campaigning and fundraising, nationwide name recognition, and/or potential appeal to Black voters*.
(*From an affluent neoliberal perspective, that is. Duckworth was a better choice but is Thai while Harris is Black and Indian. Establishment Dems are hoping those qualities are enough to attract minority voters without her prosecutorial resume coming back to haunt the ticket.)
Nailed It! Kamala Harris Betting Coverage:
Picking Harris as Biden’s Running Mate
My first inkling that Kamala Harris would be the likely VP pick if an establishment Democrat won the primary came back in December when she ended her presidential campaign before Iowa. After opening the election cycle as one of the favorites to represent the DNC against Donald Trump this Fall, her poll numbers gradually collapsed following the second debate.
Still, it was clear she was loved by DNC officials and donors.
Once Biden ran away with the nomination and Klobuchar was derailed by George Floyd, I was convinced. In May, the calls from Black Biden supporters to select a woman of color got louder.
Then, Harris introduced a bill with progressive senators Bernie Sanders and Ed Markey. The Democratic Party has no interest in passing legislation that pays Americans $2,000 per month as was proposed; knowing it would never pass, Kamala signed on with the VP announcement and earning progressive votes in mind.
Next, I noticed the senator had been receiving a considerable amount of training on her charisma and public speaking. As Harris demonstrated passionately fighting for an anti-lynching bill on the Senate floor on the day of George Floyd’s funeral.
Rand Paul tried to lecture Black lawmakers on the definition of lynching. Kamala Harris delivered her response. I was going to take a snippet from the 7 minutes to highlight but I couldn’t. The entire speech is powerful and one that’ll go down in history. pic.twitter.com/qxmCi85jL6
— José (@josecanyousee) June 4, 2020
Finally, it was reported that Kamala’s Wikipedia page was being heavily edited to remove references to her unpleasant past as a prosecutor. Someone made over 400 edits over a three-week period, erasing details related to the former AG’s history of:
- Not bringing charges against Trump’s Treasury Secretary for mortgage fraud (despite Mnuchin’s bank systematically forging paperwork and illegally foreclosing on thousands of Californians’ homes).
- Saying, “it is not progressive to be soft on crime.”
- Protecting corrupt prosecutors in the Orange County District Attorney’s office who were “alleged to have illegally employed jailhouse informants and concealed evidence.”
- Being found guilty of campaign spending violations during her bid to become a San Francisco DA.
- Attempting to withhold new evidence that would release innocent men from prison.
- Lawyers working under Harris as Attorney General argued in court that “if forced to release these inmates early, prisons would lose an important labor pool.”
Wikipedia edits have been used to telegraph upcoming Vice-Presidential nominations since 2008 when they accurately signaled both Sarah Palin and Joe Biden being tapped by their respective parties.
Since reporting that phenomenon on July 3, I’ve been convinced Kamala’s VP nomination was inevitable.
Her only legitimate challenge came from Susan Rice, a foreign policy specialist who worked in Bill Clinton and Barack Obama’s administrations (where she worked directly alongside Joe Biden). Except Rice has never run for office – that lack of experience could be overcome on other tickets, but not when Biden is so visibly declining.
This Democratic ticket’s VP needed to be ready to do the heavy lifting.
Harris has run multiple successful campaigns in the past and just participated in the primaries. Plus, they’ve been grooming her for months.
If you look at it from the perspective of Biden probably needing to drop out before Election Day – and if not before November, definitely before his first term is completed — she was the only top-tier contender who made any sense.
Harris’s VP Nomination Hurts Joe Biden’s Election Odds
In the weeks before Kamala’s nomination, Biden’s election odds hovered between -150 and -190. Now, BetOnline — who recently listed Joe at -180 — has his odds of winning set a -135.
To understand the DNC’s decision to choose a running mate for Joe who failed to generate any enthusiasm as a presidential candidate and with so many negatives in her history, you must remember one thing:
For establishment insiders, protecting the status quo and their own self-interests always outweigh what’s good for the party – and especially what’s good for the country.
They’d rather lose with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris than win with someone like Bernie Sanders – it doesn’t matter how much they claim to despise Donald Trump.
With that same rationale in mind, the Biden campaign was never going to accept a progressive running mate. The donors wouldn’t even allow him to choose Elizabeth Warren – after she showed nothing but loyalty to DNC leadership by back-stabbing Sanders – in case she ascend to the Oval Office and consider taxing or regulating monied interests.
Now, they’re going all-in with the affluent suburban alliance of corporatist Democrats and moderate “Never Trump” Republicans.
Progressives / The Left
Just as Hillary did in 2016, the Joe Biden campaign has made it abundantly clear that they have no respect for the leftist movement inspired by Bernie Sanders these past two election cycles. After all, the Democratic Policy Committee overwhelmingly rejected Medicare for All, legalizing marijuana, redirecting police funds to other social programs, and the Green New Deal.
This subsection of the Democratic Party sees Kamala Harris as more of the same neoliberal, incrementalist plan that set the conditions for Donald Trump’s election in the first place. They see her as another conservative Dem that will always put corporate donor interests ahead of real change.
Their disappointment comes primarily from her economic ideologies and coziness with the establishment core of the DNC. Centrists like Harris are essentially Reaganite Republicans who are liberal on social issues and identity politics — the only issues with which they may separate themselves from the GOP.
Biden can’t afford to lose a significant chunk of this voting bloc.
In 2016, a considerable number of Bernie Sanders supporters stayed home, voted third-party, or cast a ballot for Trump on Election Day (either due to his “outsider” status, populist anti-war rhetoric, or out of spite). If that happens again, Biden could be in deep trouble in several crucial swing states.
Letting it All Ride on “Not Trump”
The Democrats are playing a dangerous game, gambling that hatred for Donald Trump will drive “the left” to the ballot boxes in November, regardless of their disapproval of Biden.
Conservatives / Republicans
Fascinatingly enough, Republicans are attacking the nomination as proof that “far-left” radicals have taken over the Democratic Party. In their eyes, Harris is everything Bernie Sanders supporters wish she were.
That’s because a substantial percentage of conservatives vote based on social issues and cultural concerns.
So, while progressives label Kamala a “centrist” due to her corporate-friendly economic policies, right-wingers see her support for Black Lives Matter, identity politics, trans issues, etc. as proof of a socialist or Marxist takeover.
For the time being, her stances on social issues don’t seem to bother moderate Republicans supporting Biden one bit.
However, if Donald Trump’s shellacking of every traditional conservative in the 2016 primaries is any indication, these suburbanite GOP voters don’t represent a significant percentage of the electorate.
While the “far-left” label won’t influence moderates, it might reignite Trump’s socially conservative working-class base. Harris’s perceived embrace of identity politics and “cancel culture” could also hurt her with vital “swing voters” — typically an economically liberal, socially conservative bloc.
Kamala’s (Lack Of) Appeal?
The problem with choosing Kamala Harris as the Democratic running mate is that she doesn’t bring anything to the table. The voters most predisposed to loving this pick were already deeply entrenched in the “vote blue, no matter who” mindset anyway.
It’s the affluent suburban and metropolitan coastal neoliberals who don’t want any meaningful change to the status quo; they just want the rude, orange man off their television screens.
They’re not worried about outrageous corporate bailouts, 28 million Americans facing eviction, or access to healthcare – they are financially comfortable. It’s about optics and performative politics for these voters. To this subsect, Donald Trump is the anti-Christ, and any means justify the ends if it means he’s gone.
The question is: can they alone win an election?
In 2016 they couldn’t.
So, the Democrats are back where they started – praying that four years of nonstop Trump hysteria and accusations will be enough to flip the White House.
Kamala delivers nothing in terms of progressive support and likely riles-up social conservatives.
She MIGHT give Biden a slight bump with Black and Asian voters who draw inspiration from seeing someone representative of their culture so close to occupying the presidency.
But, if so, where were they during the primaries?
Biden already secured older African American supporters through Jim Clyburn’s endorsement and relationship with Barack Obama. Younger Black voters and Hispanics were firmly behind Bernie Sanders. Might Kamala Harris win over a small percentage of these voting blocs who might otherwise stay home?
Sen. Harris doesn’t even offer a boost on the Electoral College map!
California is never in doubt for the Democrats. A Vice President from a Midwestern state or Florida made much more strategic sense in that regard.
Kamala’s Role in the 2020 Election (and Beyond)
At the end of the day, Kamala Harris’s Vice-Presidential nomination is about one thing:
Insurance for Joe Biden’s accelerating mental decline.
If he’s forced out of the race between the Democratic convention and Election Day, she’s ready to campaign, fundraise, and debate. All without straying from the corporatist neoliberal playbook.
Should Biden successfully ride a wave of anti-Trump sentiment into the White House, she’s there to take over once Joe’s health cannot be hidden from the public any longer — probably relatively early in his first term.
Until that announcement, Harris and Biden’s staff of ex-Obama administration officials will run the country while the sitting president is used for ceremonial purposes at best. If he (somehow) makes it all four years, Biden will retire and hand the baton — and the DNC’s future — to his Vice President for 2024.
Either way, Kamala Harris’s nomination won’t make Biden’s task of defeating the incumbent president any easier. She’s only made his betting odds worse.