The people should pick the next vice president


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President Joe Biden’s experience as Vice President makes him reluctant to cast aside Vice President Kamala Harris, or force her to prove she is the best choice through a primary.

Although a recent Emerson College poll showed that 71% of Democrats think that President Biden should be the Democratic nominee for president in 2024, concerns still remain about his age (82 on election day of 2024), and potential cognitive decline as he would finish his second term at 86 years old. Biden seems best positioned to defeat the eventual 2024 Republican nominee (especially former president Donald Trump) of any potential Democratic candidate for a few reasons.

There are the natural advantages of being an incumbent paired with the historic amount of legislation passed and campaign promises Biden has delivered on. Furthermore, as demonstrated during the 2020 campaign, Biden’s grandfatherly, down-to-earth tone as a campaigner and lack of incendiary rhetoric makes it hard to paint him a radical. Despite Biden’s relatively strong position headed into re-election, his pick of vice president in the 2024 election should be decided by Democratic voters, not Biden himself.

One reason why Biden is not able to make a logical decision about Vice President Kamala Harris in 2024 is his own past as a vice president. At times Biden felt taken for granted by Obama, and he particularly felt passed over in the 2016 presidential race as Obama, and his political apparatus moved to anoint Hillary Clinton without considering whether Biden would seek to run for president. Much of this information was revealed in a Politico article by Alex Thompson. He knows all too well the feeling of being spurned by his boss, and likely would want Harris to avoid that fate, despite the evidence showing her mediocrity as a politician and leader.

As vice president, Harris has made headlines over her first two years for all the wrong reasons, unprecedented staff turnover and a lack of policy accomplishments on the issues tasked to her: immigration reform and voting rights (both admittedly difficult.

Her own 2020 presidential campaign fizzled out before the first primary had been held. One of the chief reasons for this failure was her record as California Attorney General, which was skillfully highlighted in a primary debate by then-Representative Tulsi Gabbard.

A New York Times article highlighted just a few of her more shameful instances as a prosecutor. For example, in 2015, she opposed a bill requiring her office to investigate shootings involving officers. She also refused to support statewide standards regulating the use of body-worn cameras by police officers. In response, Democratic state senators, the A.C.L.U. and San Francisco’s elected public defender all had harsh criticism.. The activist Phelicia Jones, who had supported Harris for years, asked, “How many more people need to die before she steps in?”
When it comes to wrongful convictions, Harris also fought to keep Daniel Larsen in prison on a 28-year-to-life sentence for possession of a concealed weapon even though his trial lawyer was incompetent and there was compelling evidence of his innocence. Relying on a technicality, Harris argued that Larsen failed to raise his legal arguments in a timely fashion. (This time she lost.)

She defended Johnny Baca’s conviction for murder even though judges found a prosecutor presented false testimony at the trial. She relented only after a video of the oral argument received national attention and embarrassed her office.

There’s also Kevin Cooper, the death row inmate whose trial was infected by racism and corruption. He sought advanced DNA testing to prove his innocence, but Harris opposed it. After The New York Times’s exposé of the case went viral, she reversed her position.
An NPR article cited the case of Jamal Trulove, the man Gabbard referenced, a Black man who grew up in San Francisco who was incarcerated for a murder that he said he didn’t commit. Later, an appeals court found that Harris’ office had overzealously prosecuted his case, despite there being evidence that he was innocent.

While Biden has always been famous for gaffes, and meandering answers/stories, he is a gifted politician in other ways. He has always been a personal politician, forming relationships with his constituents on daily rides on Amtrak to make it back and say goodnight to his children as a senator. His kindness seems genuine, and his middle-class upbringing has helped establish a mindset constantly concerned with the people he grew up with.

The tremendous personal tragedy he has experienced gives him a unique ability to empathize with people without it seeming insincere. He knows all too well what it’s like to have those empty seats at the kitchen table. There have been moments captured that demonstrate his human decency, most profoundly an emotional hug with the son of a teacher who died in Parkland. There is very much a sense that Biden’s empathy and compassion is genuine, and Harris is lacking in this area.
In the most recent presidential election with this much uncertainty about whether the president would finish his next four year term, voters did have an input. The delegates of 1944s Democratic National Convention chose not to keep Henry Wallace, a liberal politician, as vice president, and replaced him with Harry S. Truman, who would rise to the office of president just months after Franklin D. Roosevelt was re-elected.

While there have been eras in which the Democratic party was criticized for not having a bench of young politicians, there is an embaressment or riches for this 2024 Vice Presidential spot. In the Senate, the best choices seem to be Georgia colleagues Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. They both excel at passing policy that directly impacts their constituents and remaining popular in such a divided state. They are gifted speakers, and represent key Democratic constituencies; Warnock is Black, Ossoff is Jewish, and while they are both young, Ossoff would be the youngest vice president in history (demonstrating to young voters that the Democratic party has not dismissed them or taken them for granted.)

Governor’s offices across the country showcase leaders with executive authority in their states who are fantastic candidates for vice president in 2024. Among these governors are Gavin Newsom, Gretchen Whitmer, Josh Shapiro, Andy Beasher, J.B Pritzker, and Maryland’s own Wes Moore.
All of the names I’ve listed are under 60, some under 50. They are plenty young enough, and all but Moore have significant experience in elected office. Harris should be put up against the best the Democratic party has to offer because she would be a heartbeat away from the presidency without primary voters agreeing that she is suited for that role.

While Biden’s health is not nearly as terrible as Roosevelt’s in 1944, the voters deserve a similar choice. Kamala Harris should be forced to stand alone, on her own merits, and face judgment of Democratic voters about her past, present, and potential to lead America.