Can A ‘Good Enough’ Kamala Harris Break the 2020 Election? Probably Not
It is no doubt that Joe Biden makes a courageous choice picking Kamala Harris; risky, bold, but historic. But, here’s the reality check: running mates have little direct on voters.
“Do Running Mates Matter” book perhaps will give you a better explanation on that. To summarise, in general, voters are very unlikely to choose a presidential ticket simply because they like or dislike the second-in-command. When people go to the polls, they are primarily expressing a preference for the presidential candidate, not the second person on the ticket.
To Biden’s point, representation such as that of an Obama or a Harris does carry a big weight. I personally can’t deny the flicker recognition in my eyes when I saw the news. That, however, faded away very quickly due to my ambivalence toward her. I am torn between falling for the monumental symbolism of the moment for women of colour and recognising her mixed record on policies to help the marginalised.
It’s a great battle for non-white to make it to the top, which makes it a victory when they do. But, does that success always mark progress? When diversity is on the table, are diverse voices challenging the status quo or parroting it?
Well, it won’t be considered a success if we don’t adhere to standards of likability and credibility imposed by supremacy. Making oneself palatable to the norms sometimes requires bending of authenticity or even loss of identity, culture, and language.
Amid the global reckoning of BLM which sparked by police brutality, selecting a self-proclaimed “top cop” shows how much longer the Democrats hope the resistance to continue. Harris said so herself, the reckoning is not “a moment”, rather a part of a movement that began before Emmett Till. So, where was Harris on demands of the movement during the years she worked her way up the system?
It’s undeniable that people change over time and politics are rife with people going where the wind blows. This moment should be the harbinger of change. And it’s not like we can compare Biden-Harris to the almighty, only to the other candidates. It is still a persuasive argument, but one in which Americans will once again have to make do with the political calculus of “good enough” or “less bad than the other.”
I will say this, though — choosing identity over policy and principle says that if you, as a person of marginalised identity were placed in a position of power, you would do exactly what the powerful are doing today. Same injustice, a different identity.
This is something that needs deconstruction and decolonising form when it comes to other issues on which Harris has taken a problematic stance. Being a woman of a certain segment does not mean that the policies that the politicians stand for cannot be problematic and do not deserve to be under scrutiny.
From now until November, keep this fact in mind as the world scans the campaign dispatches and commentary for pulled punches.