It's all about holding the black vote. Joe Biden’s vice-presidential pick is historic — because it means that if the ticket succeeds at the ballot box, her husband will be the first Jew to live in the veep’s residence at the Naval Observatory. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself, but let’s face it: When a person is chosen in large measure because of her identity, we should all get to play along. Some will like Kamala Harris because she’s a woman. Others will like her because she’s African-American. More will like her because she’s both of those things. So why can’t I focus on the fact that she is married to lawyer Douglas Emhoff — a coreligionist of mine?
There would be a strong case to make for Harris’ candidacy outside of her identity. At 55, she’s one of the most successful politicians of her age in the Democratic Party. From the time she emerged as a significant statewide figure in California, rising from serving as district attorney in San Francisco to attorney general in Sacramento and finally to the US Senate, her star power was evident. But you can’t blame me for bringing up her race and gender (and her husband’s identity) before I mentioned any of that — because the Biden campaign has made it crystal clear she was chosen primarily for reasons of race and gender.
The fact that Biden began this process in March announcing he would be limiting his choice to those Americans with two X chromosomes, and then the added pressure for that already limited choice to be a person of color, makes Harris seem more of a token choice than she deserves.