Consider where we are as a country at the moment.
South Carolina representative Jim Clyburn, whose approval of Biden days before the primary was undoubtedly the turning point of the race, was asked Biden to have chosen a black woman as a running mate Wednesday morning in a conversation with Jonathan of the Washington Post Capehart. “The only thing that’s a must in this process right now is winning,” said Clyburn. “This is winning. It will be an advantage to have an African American woman. It will be an advantage to have a Latin. It will be an advantage to have a woman.”
True enough! But there is good reason to say Biden’s best chance of winning at the White House is choosing a black woman as his running partner.
Despite all the focus on the industrial Midwest and the white, non-university voters who went with Trump, if Clinton had been able to bring the black turnout to the level it was during Obama’s two wins, he would almost certainly have won.
Now, simply putting a black person on the ticket does not mean that you win the votes of black people or make sure they result in large numbers. But presidential politics is often about symbolism. And who Biden will choose as his vice president will be his best chance to reveal how he views his party, the country and the world – and what gives priority to the many, many issues that the United States currently faces.
Back to Biden who was chosen by Obama in 2008. The concern among voters at the time was that a relatively inexperienced senator – Obama had been in the chamber for only two years when he started running for president – may have too much learning curve as president. So Obama chose Biden, a man who had spent his entire adult life in politics and Washington, to send a symbolic message that there would be a steady hand behind the wheel. George W. Bush made a similar choice to calm nerves with Dick Cheney in 2000. Trump chose Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his running mate as a nod to the establishment of the party – although, in retrospect, he is it was clear that it was only a nod, not a real attempt to incorporate the establishment’s views and approaches into its presidency.
Biden, if you listened closely to his speech in Philadelphia on Tuesday, seems to suggest the need for important actions – and different choices – when it came to addressing the still steaming issue of race in the country. Here is the basic part of what he said (bold is mine):
“It will take much longer than talking. We have already spoken before. We have already had protests. “
“We vow to finally make this an era of action to reverse systemic racism with long-awaited and concrete changes.
“That action will not be completed in the first 100 days of my presidency – and not even for an entire term.
“It is the work of a generation“.
Choosing a black woman who is a generation (or more) younger than Biden would send a signal of how much he is really committed to changing racial dynamics in this country. (It would be the first time that a black woman has been appointed vice president for both major parties.)
And lucky for Biden, he has a number of African American women who would make excellent choices.
Biden said he hopes to make a decision about his travel partner by August 1st. Indeed, his decision may have been made – or at least significantly reduced – by the events of the past 10 days.
Coffee enthusiast. Travel scholar. Infuriatingly humble zombie fanatic. Thinker. Professional twitter evangelist.