This week, Politico quoted several Congressional Black Caucus members “warming to the idea” of a Biden-Harris ticket. “That would be a dream ticket for me, a dream ticket!” Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) told the outlet. “If she is not the nominee, that would be a dream ticket for this country.”
Others echoed that sentiment, suggesting that former vice president Joe Biden’s substantial lead in the polls and strong early fundraising make him the candidate to beat.
The lawmakers in the Politico article have only glowing things to say about Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.). And they seem to see a Biden-Harris ticket as an acknowledgment of her talents as a candidate — and maybe Biden’s weaknesses that need covered. But suggesting Harris for vice president nine months before the first Democratic caucus undercuts her campaign and seems to play on pernicious stereotypes about the role women, particularly black women, should play.
After 2016, many black women called on the Democratic Party to refrain from taking their support for granted. Implying that a black woman should “settle” for vice president while she is trying to convince America that she could be in the top spot might not be what they had in mind.
Harris is a competitive candidate for the presidency. In multiple polls, Harris is within the top five, drawing large crowds and raising more funds than most competing for president.
And some have noticed that it seems like no other candidates are being subjected to this treatment.
Harris is not the only black woman who’s been suggested as a potential Biden VP. As I previously wrote, some Biden advisers wanted to pair his announcement with a pledge to select Stacey Abrams, who ran for Georgia governor in 2018, as vice president. Axios originally reported:
“The popular Georgia Democrat, who at age 45 is 31 years younger than Biden, would bring diversity and excitement to the ticket — showing voters, in the words of a close source, that Biden ‘isn’t just another old white guy.’ ”
At the time, Abrams was — and still is — eyeing a presidential run. She is also considering another run for Georgia governor. To suggest she should give up her ambitions for Biden did not go over well with many black women who aren’t that excited about Biden winning the nomination.
Abrams herself addressed the rumors directly on “The View,” saying she had no immediate plans to join Biden’s ticket.
“You don’t run for second place,” she said. “If I’m going to enter a primary, then I’m going to enter a primary. If I don’t enter a primary, my job is to make certain that the best Democrat becomes the nominee and whoever wins the primary, that we make sure that person gets elected in 2020.”
The intentions might be understandable — to be chosen as vice president is an honor, something that a black woman has never done before. But the argument that a black woman would be best positioned as the runner-up to a white man — who comes with quite a few liabilities — reinforces the idea that only white men are electable.
Author and journalist Roland Martin tweeted:
“Any member of Congress discussing a Joe Biden/Kamala Harris presidential ticket is showing extreme disrespect to Sen. Kamala Harris. Not one Dem debate has been held. Not one primary vote has been cast. Biden has not earned the nomination and Harris has not lost it. STOP IT.”
It is understandable that liberal lawmakers — and the voters they represent — want to see a Democrat replace President Trump in the Oval Office. It makes sense, too, that they see a diverse ticket as the best way to accomplish that goal. But Democratic primary voters should get a chance to decide what that ticket should look like.