Wednesday, August 12, 2020
Much excitement has greeted Mr. Biden's announcement that his vice-presidential running mate is Senator Kamala Harris.
The selection of a Black, female running mate is a consequence of and a response to the Black Lives Matter movement. Harris is not without her controversy, particularly on issues of mass incarceration and prosecutorial rigidity. During her prosecutorial and Attorney General days she opposed release of incarcerated people proved innocent. Then after their release she opposed awarding the compensation to the exonerees. Law and order was one of her signature policies. Both Biden and Harris will have difficulty distancing themselves from the players who maintained (and in Biden's case built) the carceral state.
That said, Senator Harris brings high energy to the campaign and she brings self-confidence and a commitment to helping the most desperate during the current health crisis. She knows how Congress works and is a good match for the bad boys of Congress. Her inquiries at the Kavanaugh hearings revealed her understanding of issues that impact women. And her parental heritage ensures her understanding of multiple cultures.
How exciting it would be if our first female president is a woman of color. The vice-presidency could set her up well for a presidential run.
No candidate will meet all needs. But as the authors of How Democracies Die reminds us, in order to defeat an autocrat it is only necessary that opposition groups unite behind the alternative candidate. Whatever disagreements anti-autocrats may have with the alternate candidate are unimportant. Unification to defeat the autocrat is imperative to the survival of a democratic state. Everything else can be dealt with later. The 2020 election is our turning point. Post-election we either struggle on as a democracy or we bid farewell to the Republic and acknowledge the solidification of the US as an authoritarian state.