Less than three months are left in US presidential elections, but the run-up to November 3 poll has been uncharacteristically drab this cycle, thanks to Covid-19-related restrictions. But now there is a splash in the water. Joe Biden, who is eager to make Trump a flash in the pan, has picked his Veep. America has still got it when a “daughter of immigrants” is nominated for the job despite all the divisiveness. Observers of American politics here at home know that this is no small event – US politics may yet turn again.
In picking Kamala Harris as the first Black and Asian-American woman VP of a major political party, Uncle Joe has made history. While he is already comfortably ahead in the polls, this move indicates the need to further cement the Democratic coalition that prizes its multi-racial and gender-sensitive credentials. Some consolation after both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama faded into the sunset late 2016.
Beyond talking up the historic significance of this choice, observers are correct to note that Harris is expected to bring the much-needed charisma and energy to a campaign in need. The former top cop and current senator from California is expected to take the political attack to the incumbents. Should Biden win, Harris’s administrative and senatorial experience may help Biden govern effectively.
While American news outlets are reporting that Harris is not particularly popular among Black voters, it must be noted that even Obama had trouble appealing to African-Americans when he launched his presidential bid in 2007. Her Indian-American roots (thanks to her Indian-born mother) should help Democrats score the hotly-contested NRI votes across America following Modi’s tight embrace of Trump.
While most VPs are seen as potential successors, this situation is rather unique. Given the chatter around Biden’s age possibly limiting him to a one-term presidency should he win, the choice of a younger number-two on the Democratic ticket means that the electorate will also evaluate Harris’s past record more critically. That may help Biden’s chances, unless Harris isn’t able to make her mark. Team Trump is already off to branding the duo as a radical-left pairing, a characterization that needs to be contested.
While Biden’s previous stance, as senator and VP for Obama, has ranged from positive to neutral in dealing with Pakistan, it must be noted that his VP pick, potentially a future president, has been vocal about the suffering of Kashmiris. The biracial candidate reportedly identifies with her Indian roots but her experience as a Black American has left a more lasting mark on her political identity. It is still unclear, however, if Pakistan will get a fair hearing about its regional apprehensions in the next administration.