|SYNOPSIS: She could play a major (and innovative) role in the Biden administration|
I was disappointed, although not entirely surprised, when Joe Biden didn’t pick Elizabeth Warren as his running mate. In an election with so much at stake, he may have been averse to gambling on someone who might have seemed too radical and “out there” to potentially-winnable undecided voters. Being warned by a hundred male black leaders that he would lose the election if he didn’t choose a black woman probably also did something to narrow his sense of which women were viable options and which weren’t.
Although Joe didn’t make the choice I’d been earnestly hoping for, when I saw him and Kamala step out together, I couldn’t help but smile. They really do make a nice couple. And there’s a kind of innate likeability to her manner that it would be foolish to deny. Harris strikes me as a far more powerful ally than, say, the congresswoman from my own state of California who I’d never heard of, who had also been seriously mentioned as a potential running mate.
Still, I get queasy about Biden’s prospects (and the country’s) when I consider the extent to which a Biden/Harris ticket might register as standing for little more than a return to the status quo before Trump.
From a political standpoint, this runs a serious risk of losing the energy of young progressives. It also misses an opportunity to draw in voters who chose Trump in 2016, in the seemingly paradoxical manner that Bernie Sanders has demonstrated is possible.
Recently, it seemed like Biden saw partnering with Warren as a way to be about something more than just restoring the country to its pre-Trump condition. Given his humility and openness, he might have not only listened to, but actively sought out her ideas on a wide variety of issues and topics.
He could still do that. And he should do it. He should appoint her to the kind of position where she would not only have his ear, but be officially charged with surfacing under-recognized problems, then proposing innovative and practical solutions to them.
He should also consider announcing his intention to do this well before Election Day—so that neither progressives, nor people who liked both Trump and Sanders, give up on him needlessly.
Beyond considerations of his own political gain, if Biden fails to make Warren an integral part of his administration, he risks missing a chance to deal with certain broad underlying developments in contemporary American life that really do need attention. These are issues which Elizabeth Warren is uniquely suited to address.