By Emily Hoffman
The time has come for Joe Biden to choose his running mate. Politico erroneously reported earlier this week that Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) had been chosen ahead of the Democratic National Convention. This was undoubtedly based on a widely-circulated image of Biden’s handwritten notes, indicating that Harris was talented, had campaigned with Joe & Jill Biden, and that he had great respect for her.
Whether or not Biden will go with Sen. Harris as his vice-presidential candidate, one thing is for certain: Joe is dead set on choosing a woman. But why does he have to?
From the beginning of his campaign, Biden has been committed to selecting a woman as his running mate. (This may come from a desire to mitigate his checkered history of hair-sniffing and other creepy, misogynistic behavior.) It seems a little patronizing, does it not? As if Biden were offering these women some sort of conciliatory prize. Does he view them as sympathetic figures who, without Biden legitimizing them, would not be considered for such an elevated position in American politics? It would be more genuine if the candidate with demonstrated leadership abilities and accomplishments also happened to be a woman.
The list of potential names has been whittled down from 13 to four. Biden has been pressured by various groups, especially progressive ones, to choose a partner who would align closely with their favored identity politics.
Biden has stated previously that he wants his choice to be simpatico with him, with the potential for the same close bond that he feels he and Obama shared during his own tenure as vice president. Placing limitations on himself to choose from only under-represented groups in politics, however, does little more than reduce the scope of his search.
In a recent poll from The Hill, Democrat voters have indicated their preference for both Harris and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Regardless of who he chooses, there is no evidence that voter turnout or support increases as a result. Consider historic tickets such as Mondale/Ferraro or McCain/Palin who ultimately failed to win the general election. So, why bother patronizing women? Let a candidate’s qualifications and accomplishments, not their gender, be the reason they are chosen.
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