Biden’s would-be boldest, historic choice for VP
By Jide Ogunewe
The one thing that is certain is that Joe Biden, the presumptive presidential nominee of the Democratic Party in the 2020 elections, will pick a woman as his running mate.
When he does, it will not be history – Walter Mondale, himself a former Vice President to President Jimmy Carter, had picked Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate in 1984.
Biden’s pick will be historic only if it is what the Americans call “a woman of Color.”
There are six phenomenal Black women who have been mentioned as being considered by Biden. The first to get the buzz early in the primary campaign for the presidential nomination was Tracy Abrams of Georgia.
Abrams had run for Governor for the state of Georgia and was reportedly rigged out from becoming the first African American governor of that former Confederate state in the South. Abrams is a brilliant, competent politician who is unmarried.
Another candidate, who is reportedly at the top of the list for the VP slot is US Senator Kamala Harris. Also brilliant and competent, Harris is unabashedly ambitious.
She has demonstrated that she is willing to draw the long knife, even against Biden, in the ascendency game.
Her early calling card in her political carrier as a tough law enforcement champion has become an albatross in the era of Black Lives Matter.
Harris, who is inter-ethnic, if not inter-racial, by virtue of her parents (Indian and Jamaican/African American) is married – to a European American man.
Susan Rice, who Nigerians know very well for reasons that won’t be discussed here, is a though, brilliant, and just as ambitious operator.
She served as President Obama’s National Security Advisor. Rice is distinct from the other candidates in that she has never ran for office before.
She is what Nigerians call a technocratic in government, who does not take prisoners in the national and global power game. She is married – to a European American man.
Congresswoman Karen Bass is the Chairwoman of the consequential Black Congressional Caucus. A Congresswoman from Kamala Harris’ California, Bass is competent, brilliant and unassuming. She is divorced and single.
Keisha Lance Bottoms is the competent, brilliant mayor of the great city of Atlanta, in the Southern state of Georgia. She is young and married – to an African American man. But she is perhaps the least known on the national stage among the reported top contenders for the VP slot.
The last but not the least among the names is Congresswoman Val Demings of Florida. She is astute, unassuming, and has the background of being a Black woman who rose from the ranks in a police department to become Police Chief in the City of Orlando.
She served as one of the prosecutors from the House of Representatives in the 2019 impeachment of President Donald Trump. Demings is married – to an African American man (himself a law man – Sheriff).
In a season where Trump is making an unhidden bid for the vote and support of the “law enforcement” community, a former Black Police Chief might just be the ticket.
THE BOLD CHOICE
With the polls suggesting that the election is now Biden’s to lose, it appears he has a little more liberty to make a choice, not based on electoral calculations, but based on comfort and with eyes on history.
Biden’s choice for VP looms large not because of the would-be Biden presidency, but because of the long game scramble to succeed him probably four years from 2021.
In the midst of competent gladiators, the long game players around Biden will prefer the least threatening for the nomination in 2024, assuming Biden does not run for re-election.
Among the candidates mentioned above Bass and Demings appear the least threatening for the nomination in 2024.
But there is an issue more bold (and perhaps more controversial) that I want to broach in this piece. And to fully understand where I am going, it would help to go and watch Spike Lee’s School Daze again.
There is a major showdown between two groups of sisters in the movie. That showdown, that seemingly innocuous stratification in the sisterhood of African Americans is about to playout in Biden’s pick for VP.
With that fictional showdown in view (which was based on reality) it would not be a surprise if either of the light-skinned Harris and Rice emerge as the pick.
This is why the boldest and most historic pick would be a sister who by background, upbringing, and even marriage, clearly falls in the other – dark skinned – group of sisters.
Some have suggested that it was not accidental that Barrack Obama, with an inter-racial parentage, became European Americans’ preferred vehicle for making the United States a more perfect union by electing (twice) an African American for president.
The selection of Harris or Rice will follow that historical trend.
The boldest historic pick by Biden, the one pick that will send the greatest message of unifying not just the country, but more importantly the vast majority of African American womanhood, will be Val Demings of Florida.