Although I still can't believe that senator Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race so early, and while I am mostly nonplussed by Joe Biden, I'm hoping that his choice of a running mate will break down some barriers and maybe build some bridges between the party establishment and progressives.
Let's be clear - it's way past time for a woman to become President of the United States! But since that seems to be out of the question this time around, how about a female Vice President? Candidate Biden has already made that promise, so why not a woman of color?
There is a new progressive cadre of women in the US Congress including my own representative in from Washington State Pramila Jayapal. I admit that Jayapal is a personal friend whom I've known for many years, but I really believe she is a very committed and gifted politician who is slated for higher office at some point.
Since Pramila was born in India and spent the first part of her life in that nation she is unfortunately disqualified for holding the office of President or Vice President as per the US Constitution. According to Article II Section 1, a candidate for President must be a natural born citizen of the United States, a resident for 14 years and 35 years of age or older.
This does not mean a candidate must be born in the geographical US. The Harvard Law Review issue of March 11, 2015 asserts that any child of a US citizen is considered a "natural born citizen" regardless of where they are born. This precedent has been established by the Supreme Court and the US Congress.
Granted, Pramila Jayapal, Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are relative newcomers to the political scene in Washington D.C., but they have changed both the face and the nature of Democratic party politics in the post-Obama era. Their names are now better known than most of Biden's likely VP picks.
Rannt Media lists 10 women as potential running mates, including Senators Kamala Harris and Tammy Duckworth, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, and Congresswoman Val Demings whose name they misspelled 5 times in the originally posted article by Kaz Weida! (Luckily, I caught the error and contacted the editor so they could correct their mistake...)
All of these women are POC and very well suited to run for national office. Kamala Harris and Biden were at odds with each other over the issue of racism during the Democratic party debates. Harris and Duckworth are both from solidly blue states and are unlikely to attract independent voters from the Midwest, Southern or swing states. Their policies on many issues are actually quite moderate which does not engender them to party progressives.
Former Georgia House Majority Leader Stacey Abrams has star quality after nearly being elected governor, and her fight against voter suppression has made her the darling of many progressives throughout the nation. She is well known among voters in southern states which could provide aid for the Democrat's traditional "southern strategy" which resulted in the elections of Southerners Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.
I maintain, however, that Biden's most strategic choice for a running mate would be Congresswoman Val Demings. Her popularity has been increasing steadily among the party establishment after House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed her as one of the managers of the House's case for impeachment against Donald Trump during the trial in the US Senate. Her name has also been mentioned by Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer as a good choice for VP.
Demings obviously has the support of the party leadership and her selection as Biden's running mate could be helpful in gaining Florida's important electoral votes. It's a strategic choice which would be acceptable to the establishment, while perhaps not splitting the party by alienating too many progressives.
Unlike Jayapal, Demings is not such an outspoken progressive fighter on issues like immigration rights, the $15/hour minimum wage, Medicare For All, climate change action, etc., but she might galvanize the party's base in a way that many pundits have suggested Michelle Obama could do.
Obviously Demings does not have the name recognition of the former First lady. I don’t see this as a major issue. Sometimes having no perceived political baggage is an advantage for candidates on the national level. The media spotlight would shine on her so brightly during the campaign that the entire country would be familiar with her within a few weeks as a result of intensive news coverage.
Given the high stakes involved Biden had best put his personal considerations aside and choose a running mate that will help him defeat Donald Trump. If strategic considerations are his only priority, he really can’t go wrong by picking US Representative Demings.