A winning combination
The primary goal of politics is to win elections. Joe Biden has established that he is a master at that. In 1972, he was elected to the U.S. Senate and became the youngest person ever to do so. Biden won reelection six times and he remained a senator until he resigned in 2008 to become vice president to Barack Obama, where he served for two four-year terms. Biden has mastered an understanding of American politics. Even a casual observer would have to conclude that Biden has employed his extraordinary political acumen in the selection of Sen. Kamala Harris as his vice presidential running mate.
Biden knew that his running mate would have to be a woman. Aug. 18, 2020 is the hundredth anniversary of the date that the 19th Amendment was ratified to give women the right to vote. In anticipation of that date, women across the country have been inspired to run for public office. In fact, several senators had campaigned to become the Democratic candidate for president. The only politically sensible decision was to select a woman as the candidate for vice president. And Biden promised to do that some time ago.
In selecting Kamala Harris, Biden chose another winner. Harris produced a dynamic campaign to be elected the attorney general of California in 2010 and she won re-election in 2014. When Barbara Boxer decided in 2016 to retire after serving as U.S. senator from 1994, Harris ran for the seat and she won. So Harris also brings three years of experience as a U.S. senator to the vice presidency. Service as a senator is indeed a customary qualification of candidates for vice president.
Nonetheless, because she is a woman of color, some unfair comments have been directed toward her candidacy. Biden’s decision was not, as some might suggest, a case of affirmative action. Rather, he has made an astute decision to generate substantial support from an expanding block of voters. Such support could come from professional organizations, labor unions or ethnic groups. But the record reveals that one of the most promising and assured sources of votes is Black women.
Prior to 1964, a number of Blacks were members of the Republican Party out of respect for Abraham Lincoln, the president who freed the slaves. But the obdurate opposition of conservatives to the Civil Rights Act changed that support. Blacks turned their backs on Republican Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential campaign and Lyndon Johnson won the most massive victory in history. Only about 5% of the Black vote was cast for Goldwater. In every presidential election since then, about 90% of the Black vote has been for the Democratic Party candidate.
Furthermore, an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data indicates that between 2000 and 2014 there has been a 55.1% increase in the voter-eligible number of women of color. Biden must certainly be aware of this demographic assist. The selection of Kamala Harris will certainly help motivate political support from this group.
The impact of the vote of Black women became very apparent in the Obama reelection bid in 2012. In that race, 70.1% of African American women who were registered voted on Election Day. This was a higher percentage of any group to be considered either by race or gender. Any astute politician would curry the support of such a group.
In his many years in public service, Biden has developed a reputation as an advocate of programs to benefit the average citizen, such as the Affordable Care Act. He has also supported racial and gender equality in America, as well as greater amelioration of economic disparity. Aware women and Blacks understand this. It is time for other Americans to join the effort for unity and change in the nation. The Biden-Harris campaign deserves the support of every fair-minded American citizen.