When the legacy media declared that Joe Biden had won the election, despite recounts and legal challenges pending, many immediately rallied to celebrate his running mate. Kamala Harris’ presumed victory as Vice President was lauded by the Left as “historic,” with much of the focus falling upon her gender and race.
— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) November 8, 2020
And just like that, she spoke 🇺🇸🎉 Congratulations Vice President-Elect @KamalaHarris on your historic win! Kamala is the first woman, first African-American, and first South Asian-American to serve as the VP of the United States!#powerpuffgirls #VicePresidentHarris pic.twitter.com/0VxnCLKTY9
— Cartoon Network (@cartoonnetwork) November 8, 2020
It is of course notable that Harris may become the first female Vice President in American history as well as the first Vice President of Jamaican and Indian heritage. But should the fact that Harris was chosen specifically for these immutable characteristics have an impact on our conclusion? In March, Biden said that he would “pick a woman to be vice president.” In July, he announced that he was “not committed to naming any (of the potential candidates), but the people I’ve named, and among them there are four black women.”
After saying that he would pick a woman, and then saying that among his choices were “four black women,” his eventual choice of a black woman is more a rare delivery on a political promise based on identity politics than the choice of a running mate based on credentials. This is not to belittle Kamala Harris’ achievement on a personal level — her accomplishments are impressive by any measure — but it is to question the assumption that her achievements are based entirely on merit and have nothing to do with the identity-based filters preemptively applied by Biden. After all, Harris’ presidential campaign (which included her launching accusations of racism against Biden before endorsing him) imploded before the first primary vote, due to “lack of support and money.” Would it not be ridiculous to argue that, if Harris were a white male, her performance as a presidential candidate would have justified her candidacy as a pick for Biden’s running mate?
The celebration of Harris’ minority status also seems a little overblown when we consider that Charles Curtis — a Native American — was Vice President from 1929 to 1933, that Barack Obama — a black man — was President from 2008 to 2016, and Hillary Clinton — a woman — ran as a Presidential candidate in 2016. Of course, the Left would respond by saying that Harris is the first “woman of color” to win, to which the obvious retort would be to ask why such race or gender-based enthusiasm is never attributed to conservatives. Nikki Haley? Sarah Palin? Condoleezza Rice? Perhaps the only colors which matter to the Left when celebrating or ignoring successful women are blue and red?
Regardless of whether Harris’ skin color or gender is something we should view as historic or not, the more important question to ask is why we even care in the first place? One could argue that a woman of color becoming Vice President is symbolically significant, especially for those who still believe America is “systemically racist.” While most of the country has long internalized the lessons of the civil rights movement, some continue to see race as a primary issue. According to Variety, Mindy Kaling was reported to have told her child “look baby, she looks like us” when Kamala Harris was declared the winner. Is it not inherently racist to assert authority, validity, or ability to someone based on how similar their skin color is to our own?
As a white male, it’s likely that many will reject this view because I exist in a political system dominated by other white males, and so I cannot possibly understand the experience of someone who is not also a white male. The fundamental flaw here is the implicit assumption that I, and others, also prescribe authority, validity, or ability to people because they happen to be the same color as me, or because they share other meaningless characteristics. For example, the fact that Bernie Sanders is culturally Jewish has not driven me to ignore his political ideology in favor of our supposed shared heritage.
The truth is that I couldn’t care less what color or gender any politician is, whether they are running the country or my local recreational center. When we should be judged on our character and competence, it’s frankly bigoted to instead focus on skin color and gender. If you’re celebrating Kamala Harris primarily because she is a “woman of color,” then perhaps you’re doing it wrong.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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