After months of speculation, Joe Biden’s search for a governing partner culminated in the somewhat unsurprising selection of Senator Kamala Harris of California. The decision has been hailed by America’s leading Black voices as a “moment of historic significance” and “a good day for our country”, by President Barack Obama. Not only has Harris’ choosing garnered support by establishment Democrats, but by individuals spanning from progressives to Tea Party Trump-voters. Bernie Sanders praised her recently adopted stance on universal healthcare, and record on social justice, Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley, two members of the so-called ‘Squad’ expressed excitement about a Vice President Harris citing their collaborations with her on clean water initiatives and direct cash payments during the Coronavirus pandemic. Sarah Palin offered her congratulations to Harris proposing some much-savoured advice she gathered during her time on McCain’s 2008 presidential ticket.
Such guidance is necessary. At a time when Trump and his supporters are intent on manipulating Harris’ image dishonestly, she needs tough skin, and she has buckets of it. Harris represents everything Trump supporters loathe: she is a powerful Black Democratic woman from California. We have seen the immediate reception to her selection by the Trumpverse. Donald Trump Jr welcomed her to the race by sharing a tweet questioning Harris’ racial background: “She’s not from American Black slaves, she comes from Jamaican Slave Owners. That’s fine. She’s not an American Black. Period.” Unsurprisingly the blatant racism doesn’t stop here, I could fill the Caspian Sea with the racist comments on Twitter and Instagram: vile comments I don’t want to repeat in this article.
Reliably as always, Trump supporters also employ massive misogyny against Harris and her image, her voice, her style, her walk, her smile have all been dragged through the mud by Trump supporters. Trump himself referred to Harris as a “nasty”, “mean” woman, an insult previously only afforded to Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi… Are you seeing a pattern here? Trump also labelled her as “phony Harris”. Now, parking the fact that this is nickname dud, Trump has clearly forgotten that he donated $6,000 in two instalments between 2011 and 2013 to Harris’ campaign for California Attorney General. He also previously called her a “fine pick” for Biden. It certainly seems Trump’s cognitive functions seem to be giving up on him.
But this allegation of being a “phony” has some base. Harris chastised Biden for his position on busing during the 1970s which essentially argued that the federal government should leave the decision to incorporate black and minority children into white schools to the states, rather than the federal government. However, after the debate it was revealed that Harris’ position was not too dissimilar to Biden’s, meaning her attack suffered allegations of political point-scoring.
However, “phony” was also used to highlight Harris’ record. In a Republican advert released earlier this week, they accused Harris of embracing the agenda of the “radical far left”, with Trump adding that she was the “most liberal person in the Senate”. Aside from the fact that Trump supporters label anyone criticising Trump a “communist liberal” (yes, I am serious), they overlook that Harris is despised by many on the progressive left who badge her “Kamala the Cop” citing her record as Attorney General which saw an unprecedented 74% conviction rate for marijuana possessions across California. The Black Socialists of America, the Young Turks, and the ‘People for Bernie’ posted scathing criticisms of Harris on their social media accounts, with the most far-left elected representatives in the party, including AOC and Ilhan Omar remaining mute on Harris’ selection.
Trump cannot paint Harris as a radical leftist controlling Biden because her record shows otherwise. Trump claims to be the “law and order candidate” but has a worse conviction rate than Harris. He claims Harris wants to defund the police, but her record shows her increasing police budgets. Just like Trump has tried to paint Biden as a radical, his attempts with Harris will fall on deaf ears given the revilement by progressives in America towards her.
Ultimately, this announcement is welcome news. I believe Biden has picked a strong running mate, capable of eviscerating Mike Pence in a debate and launching blistering attacks on the Trump administration’s corruption, callousness, and contempt for the American people. Hopefully, her nomination would enthuse Black turnout for Biden, which dwindled in the crucial swing states in 2016: In Milwaukee, Wisconsin black turnout fell 20%, with similar numbers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Detroit, Michigan. If Biden has a road to the White House it runs through Black voters in these three states, Florida, and North Carolina. Harris shall hopefully help him thread the needle in this regard.
We have under 3 months till the election. Biden is riding high in the polls. The conventions are upon us. Now we just have to wait and see the benefits Harris, historically the most consequential pick for Vice President, will add to the ticket. And as Harris told me when I met her in November 2018, “we got to bring this home for America” – She was, and is totally correct.