Can a Black VP Help Joe Biden’s Campaign?

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Photo by David J. Phillip-Pool/Getty Images

Mass protests and citizen awakening against structural racism in the United States — and the world — seem to be the ideal terrain for symbolic political strategies.

While the Democrats were kneeling on the ground before introducing their legislative proposal for police reform, the Party now seeks to transform the social movement into another avenue for defeating Donald Trump in the November election.

A POLITICO/Morning Consult poll released Wednesday found 46 percent of Democrats saying it’s important that Biden pick a vice presidential candidate of color, up from 36 percent in early April.

“The wide scale uprisings have reshaped the national dialogue around Biden’s search for a running mate and made the issue of an African American vice presidential nominee a top consideration for the campaign,” Politico explained.

Among the possible candidates would be Sen. Kamala Harris of California, Florida Rep. Val Demings, and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who have also made themselves heard in protests of George Floyd’s death repeatedly over the past few weeks.

“Their experiences and their qualifications each connect to a piece of the work that we need to do,” Glynda Carr, president and chief executive of Higher Heights, said in assessing Demings and Harris in the moment.

“The two contenders that actually have law enforcement and prosecutor backgrounds have a piece of experience that uniquely provides perspective and potentially a vision around reimagining how we create an America where Black lives matter.”

Similarly, the campaign has considered the former national security adviser Susan Rice and former Democratic State House leader in Georgia, Stacey Abrams.

Joining the call, a dozen black activists and Democratic political strategists addressed a letter to the Biden campaign early last month stressing how the election of a Black vice president could “help the campaign expand and invigorate the African-American electorate.”

The initiative followed a public letter organized by Sisters Lead Sisters Vote signed on April 24 by women across the country that said: “Black women are the key to a Democratic victory in 2020.”

“There has not been a Democratic presidential nominee in over 40 years that has won the White House without Black women’s leadership and vote — including President Barack Obama, President Bill Clinton, and President Jimmy Carter,” added the signatories.

Although Biden said in a recent interview with CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell that recent events “haven’t” affected his choice, the country’s political moment demands a person who can not only speak from experience and empathy, but also know how to lead from legislation and propose solid solutions.

“Just like in ’08 — when President Obama selected someone that would help him govern, someone that could hit the ground running on recovery efforts in ’09 — when Joe Biden is elected in November, his running mate, the next vice president, would hit the ground running to address the crisis we have in our nation,” said Clay Middleton, a member of the Democratic National Committee and a well-known South Carolina strategist, to the New York Times. “Of the plight of African-Americans, and law enforcement, police reform, a plethora of issues.”

“His campaign got revived because of the African-American community,” said Gilberto Hinojosa, the chairman of the Texas Democratic Party. “I just think it would be the right thing to do.”