News of Kamala Harris’s selection as Joe Biden’s running mate was greeted by everything but the popping of champagne corks by my right-wing friends at lunch. The consensus of the policy wonks, policy makers, businessmen and journalists at my table was that Harris is good news for Donald Trump. ‘She’s unlikable’ and ‘she’s a cop’ were the instant reactions — though if Harris really were a cop, and not a former prosecutor, she might find some support among Americans horrified by the riots in Chicago, Portland and everywhere else that’s succumbed to left-wing Democratic control. I expected Harris all along, ever since Biden imposed a sex test on his list of potential running mates. He apparently narrowed his search further to black women only, with Susan Rice and Karen Bass improbably mooted as possibilities. No — an elected official with a national profile made more sense, and Harris was the one who fit the order. Besides, despite what my lunch companions assume, she’s formidable. She certainly drew a few pints of Biden’s blood in the Democratic primaries when she attacked him for his less-than-woke racial history. But Harris’s own campaign for the top of the ticket bled out after Tulsi Gabbard filleted Harris over her past as a prosecutor. The Biden-Harris ticket is quite a creature, the spearhead of a now hard-left, soft-on-crime party, though the candidates have a record established when the party was centrist. The obvious way to reconcile the candidates with their party’s radicalized base will be to enlist the power of a prospective Biden-Harris administration against thought-criminals rather than street criminals. At issue in the November election will not only be the question of whether America’s cities should be unpoliced but also whether voters are angry enough at Trump to overlook the likely consequences of Biden-Harris rule.Or would that be Harris-Biden rule? Joe Biden is not getting any more articulate or focused as the months go by. Harris, on the other hand, is as sharp as she is ambitious. She will be the Dick Cheney to Biden’s almost-octogenarian George W. Bush. And voters will have to reckon with that when they go to the polls, or whatever the replacement for going to the polls winds up being in the COVID era. Could Biden serve two terms, as every other president elected since World War Two was prepared to do? (Lyndon B. Johnson abandoned his re-election early, but it was hardly fated that he do so.) No — Biden would be at most a single-term president, in all likelihood, and he quite possibly wouldn’t make it through a single term, especially with Harris already anointed to succeed him. A scenario in which Biden resigns to make way for history, elevating Vice President Harris to become the first female president, is easy to imagine.
Harris is a California politician through and through, hailing from a beautiful state that is one the most inhospitable to the middle class in the whole country. The tendency of the Democratic party’s ideology for a long time now has been in the direction of building an America characterized by greater income inequality and the reduction of the former middle class to client status. The riots and homicide explosions in Democrat-controlled cities this summer suggest something about whose lives matter, too: not the lives of black Americans, who are most likely to be the victims of crime; nor the lives of immigrant small-business owners or law-abiding citizens of all races and backgrounds; but rather the lives of mostly white leftist ‘protesters’ who demand an end to law enforcement. The rich will do well in Biden-Harris America, the middle class will be in life support, and the violent will be unhampered. Harris is a skillful politician, and she used racial politics to powerful effect during the Democratic primary, though not effectively enough to get her anywhere near the nomination. Her presence on the ticket is an attempt to lock in Biden’s lead among women, more than an effort to maximize black turnout in Philadelphia and elsewhere. A California politician will struggle to be of much help in the latter regard, if, as I suspect, region and class count for than color here. But to an extent that Biden dare not admit, his campaign is all about whites — about cutting down Trump’s soft suburban support and emphasizing Biden’s own white ethnic Catholic identity. The same baby boomers who voted for Bill Clinton, and whose parents voted for JFK, are Biden’s prime targets. Those boomers have seen the America they loved descend into industrial decay, cultural anarchy, and the resurgence of murder in the cities. Joe Biden’s party, and not coincidentally the NeverTrump neocon defectors from the GOP, bear responsibility for the death of JFK’s America. But Trump is the president in power as the cities burn, and Biden is a figure of nostalgic Americana (as brilliantly confirmed by the way the Onion portrayed him during the Obama administration). Political scientists think that presidential elections are referenda on the incumbent party, and this election of elections has looked set to be a referendum on Trump. Yet even in a referendum voters cannot help but give thought to the alternative, and the alternative to Trump is a Biden-Harris ticket that will only empower the plutocrats and Jacobins who have together looted the republic.