Kamala Harris’s vice presidency has not gone well. Actually, Harris’s vice presidency has gone so poorly that Democrats are reportedly mulling whether to replace her on Joe Biden’s 2024 ticket. But that’s unlikely to happen; Kamala Harris will be on the ticket. And either way, there are still nearly two years remaining in the current administration, which prompts a different question: Can Harris’s vice presidency be saved?
Kamala Harris Has Been Quiet
The nice thing about being vice president of the United States is that you’re always right there, on the cusp of a political victory. Granted, the office’s prominence is a double-edged sword, and so far, that sword has cut against Harris, leaving her politically wounded. Indeed, with the prominence of the vice presidency comes a set of expectations – the expectation that the vice president will be a productive political entity.
In large part, Harris’s performance is derided not because she did something bad – but because she hasn’t done much of anything at all. She hasn’t been a productive political entity. On the big ticket items Harris was assigned at the onset of Biden’s tenure – migration and voting rights – Harris hasn’t achieved anything notable. On the Biden administration’s slew of legislative victories – Inflation Reduction, CHIPS – Harris played no role. And with respect to general popularity, upon which an administration depends for re-election, Harris brings nothing to the table, for she is widely unpopular.
How Can Harris Turn It Around?
Right now, Harris is touring Africa on behalf of the United States in the hopes of countering the increased relevance of China and Russia on the African continent. Last month, Harris spoke at the Munich Security Conference, where she announced that the Biden administration had formally concluded that Russia is guilty of “crimes against humanity.” Trips like that, to Africa and Germany, are a step in the right direction for a politician hoping to make her mark. Getting out, being seen, seeming relevant.
Does the international tour make Harris an overnight asset for the Biden administration? No. Does the international tour restore my personal confidence in Harris as vice president? No. But it is a step in the right direction. It’s better than sitting around and ripping through staff members (a tendency of Harris’s).
The good news for Harris is that she will always have a portion of the population who is ardently willing to support her – the social justice crew who offhand dismiss all criticism of Harris as misogyny and/or racism. The social-justice crew supporting Harris irrespective of job performance is a minority. But they are a vocal minority, and their perspective will never be far from the headlines. The New York Times, for example, ran a Donna Brazile opinion piece last month titled “The Excellence of Kamala Harris Is Hiding in Plain Sight,” which argued Harris was not getting the credit she was due (on account of being Black, Asian, and female).
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I don’t buy it, and I’m not confident in Harris’s abilities. I don’t expect much from her. But like I said, she is still the vice president, which puts her right on the cusp of doing something important, or productive, or popular. Harris is well poised to turn things around, simply on account of her station.
Will she be able to do it? I don’t know.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.