Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has picked Kamala Harris as his running mate. A move meant to bridge the divide heating up the American political space and beyond for some time now.
“I’ve decided that Kamala Harris is the best person to help me take this fight to Donald Trump and Mike Pence and then to lead this nation starting in January 2021,” Biden wrote.
Harris is a California Senator who contested the primaries against Biden, the nomination will make her the first Black South Asian American woman to run on a major political party’s presidential ticket.
Biden had promised to run with a woman and chose Harris, 55 to appeal to many voters who are concerned about his age. The choice of Harris serves other purposes that include closing the gender disparity in the American presidential system and tuning down the racial tension that has risen disproportionately in the last few years.
The California Senator is the third woman to serve as a vice presidential candidate for a major political party in the United States, after Geraldine Ferraro who was chosen in 1984 as the Democratic vice president and in 2008, Sarah Palin, who was picked by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Former president Barack Obama said Biden ‘nailed this decision’ choosing Harris who is ‘more than prepared’ for the job.
“Joe Biden nailed this decision. By choosing senator Kamala Harris as America’s next vice president, he’s underscored his own judgment and character,” Obama wrote in a statement. “Reality shows us that these attributes are not optional in a president. They’re requirements of the job. And now Joe has an ideal partner to help him tackle the very real challenges America faces right now and in the years ahead.”
Sources told CNN that Harris was confidentially chosen from a bevy of women that included California Rep. Karen Bass, the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams, Illinois Sen. Tammy Warren, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham as well as Florida Re. Val Demings.
Harris is the first South Asian-American woman and second Black woman in history to serve in the US Senate. Having an Indian mother and a Jamaican father, she grew up in Oakland California and attended the historical Black college Howard University and the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.
She started her law career at the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office and in 1998, moved to the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. Her law career got to a prominent point in 2010, when she became the first woman and the first African-American elected to serve as attorney general for the state of California.
However, Harris has come as a surprise pick to many following her attack on Biden during the Democratic primaries in June 2019, where she fiercely criticized Biden’s work with segregationist senators and mentioned his fight of decades ago against busing to desegregate.
Against the pushback from many of his loyalists, Biden, preached the forgiveness message and urged everyone to move on. He highlighted Harris’ works as an attorney as part of the reason she was chosen for the job of a vice president.
“Back when Kamala was Attorney general, she worked closely with Beau. I watched as they took on the big banks, lifted up working people, and protected women and kids from abuse. I was proud then, and I’m proud now to have her as my partner in this campaign,” he said.
Harris highlighted her move on the big banks as part of her greatest achievements as the attorney general of the state of California, pursuing predatory lenders after the financial crash of 2008, which led to larger settlements of $20 billion from the big banks for Californians after the foreclosure crisis.
CNN reported that her fight against racial injustice came from what she called “a stroller-eye view” of activism from a very young age. Harris’ mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, a breast cancer specialist and her father, Donald Harris, who became an economics professor at Stanford, were part of the Civil Rights Movement protest, there, she said she had the elementary lessons of activism that has made her part of the campaign against racial injustice.
The spouses of Biden and Harris, Jill Biden and Emhoff tweeted at each other on Twitter following the news of her nomination.
A barrage of well wishes has followed since then, especially by #winwithblackwomen movement.
Biden 77, made a strategic choice nominating Harris. The Washington Post reported the significance of Black women in US polls despite making up just 7% of the population. They have voted at higher rates than other racial groups at about 60% in the past five presidential cycles. The report noted also that they are loyal to the Democratic Party with 94% voting for Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Harris in a tweet on Tuesday thanked Biden for choosing her while expressing confidence in his ability to unify the American people.
“Joe Biden can unify the American people because he’s spent his life fighting for us,” she tweeted. “And as president, he’ll build an America that lives up to our ideals.”
“I’m honored to join him as our party’s nominee for vice President, and do what it takes to make him our commander-in-Chief.”