Joe Biden’s Historic Decision!

Richard Rubin
Attorney Richard Rubin has taught at the University of San Francisco, Berkeley and Golden Gate University, is a regular columnist for the Marin Independent Journal and was Chair of the California Commonwealth Club Board of Governors, 2017-2019.

Californians were introduced to the Democrat’s Vice-Presidential choice years ago and they apparently liked what they saw. 

Now the nation will have the same opportunity with former Vice President Joe Biden’s selection of Sen. Kamala Harris to run with him on the Democratic ticket. 

In their first public appearance as a campaign couple Harris with glowing smile said, “I am incredibly proud and honored and I am ready to get to work”, calling their coupling “a new coalition of conscience.”

Harris won every election she ran in beginning as San Francisco’s District Attorney and then moving up to manage the country’s largest justice department outside of the federal capital. 

As I wrote in my previous column, “Harris checks all the boxes. She is youngish (55), whip-smart, highly personable, persuasive and has the gladiatorial chops that could compliment Biden’s lower voltage persona well.”

The most important decision a presumptive presidential nominee must make was just made, and it appears to be playing well across the party spectrum. 

Biden did not tap someone who could shake up the campaign as the now deceased and highly respected former GOP presidential candidate, John McCain, did with his regrettable selection of Sarah Palin.

Nor did Biden invoke the conventional electoral calculus of opting for someone who could provide a geographic advantage. California is probably the safest “blue” state in the nation. It is also the most populous and diverse.

He went with a seasoned campaigner, veteran politician and charismatic figure who excites crowds and will galvanize high turnout in the black and brown communities that could key a Democratic victory.

Together they should also attract white women, suburbanites, young people, immigrants and working-class voters disgusted with a president who is an avowed racist that fomented a debilitating culture war which has erupted in violence.

Trump was presented with a Rooseveltian challenge comparable to the Great Depression in 1933 and World War II eight years later. He has responded with an inept and increasingly desperate imitation of a would-be dictator on steroids! 

Choosing Harris pays tribute to the critical role black voters played—especially in the South Carolina primary—that catapulted Biden to the front of the pack which he never surrendered.

Those debts are getting collected though the surging Black Lives Matter Movement which propelled Americans of every racial stripe into the streets. This may have narrowed his choices.

Harris’s meteoric rise, however, is not accidental or merely a sign of the times. She worked hard to gain the notice that could now bring her to the pinnacle of power. 

She is the first woman of color to reach this high plateau (Geraldine Ferraro was Sen. Walter Mondale’s running mate in that losing 1984 race) busting through a barrier that was thought practically insurmountable just a few years ago.

The rearview mirror may have lost much of its acuity as women are no longer satisfied and are now contesting for more than grudging recognition. They are storming the corridors of power and with the Harris selection have gotten one step closer to the ultimate prize! 

Biden had many things to consider in arriving at this historic juncture and not the least a very talented and diverse group of women with legitimate aspirations. He also had to buck a view held by some of the most radical elements of his party that were advocating for someone more akin to their leanings.

The “Bernie-crats” disappointed with his showing expressed their discomfort with the idea of a candidate who might not be a down-the-line espouser of extreme views.

They will not get that in Harris whose mostly moderate stances on critical issues such as race, policing, healthcare, climate and education position her to the left-of-center along with Biden where sensible Democrats feel they must go to win the coming election. In short, she was the safest choice.

The Bernie/Warren bunch might want to recall that as California’s Attorney General in 2011 she took on the nation’s five largest banks and secured $20 billion in financial relief for California homeowners affected by the foreclosure crisis. Harris is hardly a favorite of Wall Street. 

“I’m not trying to restructure society,” Ms. Harris said last summer in an interview with The New York Times. “I’m just trying to take care of the issues that wake people up in the middle of the night.”

As one reporter has written, “Ms. Harris also showed a distinctly Biden-like impatience with what she characterized as the grand but impractical governing designs of some in her party.”

This pragmatic approach should resonate well with a public terrified over a pandemic that has thrown 16 million out of work, is ravaging the consumer economy, has disrupted the educational system and is still infecting and killing people with 165,000 feared dead at last count.

Her left-of-center positions are not likely to alienate the majority of even the more Progressive wings of her party and in fact many of their historically contentious factions are showing signs of uniting facing the implausible specter of a second Trump term. 

At the same time Harris’s reputation as a fairly tough law-and-order Attorney General is bound to deflect the criticism which Trump has already begun dishing out painting her and the Democrats as “extreme partisans led by crazy Nancy.”  

In a preview of things to come, the president is labelling Harris “nasty and whining.”

Though she pulled out of the presidential contest early—wisely in the minds of many—Harris continued to articulate specific proposals. For most part they dovetail well with those of the person who could be her future boss.

That was clearly an overriding consideration for someone who knows better than any how important it is to have a working partner that will not overstep the tacit boundaries that made him such a valued sidekick to President Obama. 

Among examples of her policy initiatives Sen. Harris introduced legislation that provides a tax credit of up to $6,000 for middle-class and working-class families.

Looking at the widening teacher pay gap she has advocated for pay raises averaging $13,500 but has also blasted the Trump Administration for failing to come up with a plan for reopening schools safely.

Rather than abolishing private health care insurance with which Biden concurs, Harris has spoken in favor of a modified plan while still preserving Medicare for all Americans.  

Like Biden with some modification she supports increases in corporate taxes and raising the top marginal income tax rate on the top 1 percent up to 39.6 percent from 37 percent.

If Democrats are reading the political winds correctly the anemic measures contained in the latest spate of presidential Executive Orders intended to rescue the citizenry from the terrible costs Covid-19 is exacting are failing badly.

Harris’s pick is also stimulating talk of Trump perhaps thinking of replacing his Vice President, Mike Pence, with a woman to salvage a campaign that every poll  is showing on the skids. 

As the man from Delaware—the nation’s second smallest state —-exited the stage with the lady from its largest—Biden summed up the stakes in stark terms, “This is about winning the battle for the soul of America.”

Comment on this article


Please note, statements and opinions expressed on the Fox&Hounds Blog are solely those of their respective authors and may not represent the views of Fox&Hounds Daily or its employees thereof. Fox&Hounds Daily is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the site's bloggers.