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Cockburn US Politics

What if Biden picks a white woman?

Candidates who would have thrilled the woke vanguard four years ago are ‘devils’

August 11, 2020

9:51 AM

11 August 2020

9:51 AM

Like the rest of Washington’s very bored pundit class, Cockburn has been closely monitoring Joe Biden’s elongated hunt for a vice presidential nominee. It’s not exactly exciting, but when the alternatives are televised WNBA games, one must make do. 

A Monday article by the Associated Press highlights the difficult choice Biden faces: 

‘He could become the first presidential nominee of a major party to select a woman of color. While he promised months ago to pick a woman, the nation’s reckoning with systemic racism has added pressure to pick a Black woman.

‘But it’s not certain he will do so. Last weekend, he met privately with Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who’s white… Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who also is white, has also been a leading contender.’

The AP’s display of its new capitalization policy says it all. Kamala Harris and Stacey Abrams may be Black, but Gretchen Whitmer and Elizabeth Warren are merely white.


Vice presidential picks are almost always about balance: John F. Kennedy shoring up the South by picking LBJ, Donald Trump reassuring nervous evangelicals with his choice of Mike Pence, and so forth.

But Joe Biden faces a very different challenge. Whomever he chooses will have greater pre-election odds of eventually becoming president than any running mate since Harry Truman. Despite this, competence hasn’t entered the equation at all (much as it didn’t for the selection of Biden himself).  

Instead of evaluating his running mate ideologically, or geographically, or (just imagine!) based on ability, Biden’s decision is a purely moral one. The Democratic party’s ideological vanguard on Twitter demands a choice that will cancel out Biden’s innately sinful nature. Biden himself is an old straight white male, the worst possible set of traits, so ideally his running mate will be a Young Gay Black Woman. Failing that ideal, Biden is expected to meet at least three of those requirements. 

In a letter released on Monday, 100 black male public figures, including rapper Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, Floyd family attorney Ben Crump, and prominent white people critic Nick Cannon, insist that only one kind of running mate is acceptable for 2020. 

‘The urgency for that pick has gone from something that SHOULD happen to something that HAS to happen,’ the letter says. ’Failing to select a Black woman in 2020 means YOU WILL lose the election. We don’t want to choose between the lesser of two evils, we don’t want to vote the devil we know vs. the devil we don’t because we are tired of voting for devils period.’

So that is what it has come to: candidates who would have thrilled the woke vanguard just four years ago are now ’devils’, the very symbols of reaction. Biden must pick a black woman, or else.

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But what if he doesn’t? What if Biden picks a white woman instead?

Elizabeth Warren sparred with Bernie Sanders to be the most radical candidate in the Democratic field. She promised free college and Medicare-for-All. In any other election year, if Joe Biden brought Warren out as his running mate, it would be a moderate making an appeal to the far left. But in August 2020, Elizabeth Warren has become a dogwhistle to the far right.

But would it work? Joe Biden’s entire presidential campaign is based on the principle that candidates, like 19th-century children, should be neither seen nor heard. The Biden team wants all the focus on Donald Trump and his failures, not on their own candidate. The woke spasm of the past three months has put that all in jeopardy. Contrary to popular belief, most people of all races do not like having their police force fired and their neighborhoods pulverized by antifa. If Joe Biden becomes the doddering enabler of the looting class, he may lose an election that feels like a sure thing. But if Biden alienates the Twitter faction with a veep nominee they hate, he may do exactly the opposite. He might win over the millions of Americans, including minorities, who badly wish it could simply be 2015 again. It could be a Machiavellian master-stoke, in other words. Cockburn wonders if Biden has it in him.


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