Typically, a vice president is well-situated to succeed their president. Richard Nixon, Lyndon B. Johnson, Gerald Ford, George H. W. Bush, Joe Biden – they all served as vice presidents before rising to the top office. Accordingly, Kamala Harris ought to be considered a viable successor to Biden.
While Harris’s popularity is low, her vice presidential performance has been oft-criticized, and her 2020 presidential campaign was poorly executed, she remains one of the DNC’s most prominent figures. The Democrats bench is weak right now, further bolstering Harris’s viability.
An interesting question, given the DNC’s weakness at the moment, is who would Harris pick to be her running mate if Joe Biden were to step aside? Some have asked whether Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or AOC, could slot in behind Harris on the ticket. Sure, it’s possible.
AOC might be the Democrats biggest celebrity. Appearing on the cover of magazines like GQ and Vogue, walking the red carpet at the Met Gala, AOC has a bit more star power than a Chuck Schumer or a Mitch McConnell. When AOC tweets (to her 13 million followers) people pay attention – both her fans and her detractors. In effect, what AOC’s celebrity means with respect to a presidential ticket, is that any ticket featuring AOC is going to get a visibility boost. That could be a double-edged sword, given AOC’s polarizing nature.
Harris-AOC 2024 would certainly jazz up the left; the identity-obsessed left would celebrate the historic ticket, which would be the first to feature two women, the first to feature two non-white people. The left would celebrate the ticket as a progressive breakthrough, patting themselves on the back for their moral purity.
What they would likely fail to recognize is that neither Harris nor AOC has done very much in terms of progressive achievement. A Harris-AOC ticket would be a gender and race-based Trojan horse that would likely just sneak in mainstream values to the White House. For AOC, despite her tough talkin’ progressivism, typically just votes mainstream.
But still, progressives would love the AOC addition to the ticket. Frankly, progressives would be so jazzed up to see a “BIPOC” woman heading the ticket that the VP pick wouldn’t matter – but the addition of AOC would probably fry left-wingers circuit boards; it’d be too much to process – and would inspire a fervent, cult-like following.
The ticket would inspire a backlash. However, there are downsides to naming AOC as vice president. AOC is a uniquely polarizing figure; conservatives absolutely despise her. To conservatives, AOC personifies everything they perceive as wrong with liberal America: the whining, the hyperbole, the inauthenticity, and the youth. AOC would likely inspire a staunch conservative rebuttal and further inflame rampant partisanship. And AOC is perceived as a radical leftist. Moderates may not appreciate her appointment to the VP slot.
What is especially curious is how the Latino population would react to an AOC appointment. Both the Democrats and the Republicans have been competing for the increasingly important Latino vote. For years, Democrats believed they had a lock on the burgeoning demographic. But during the Trump years, the Latino vote started trending in the other direction, toward the GOP. Ironically, the Latino switch to the GOP was in large part because of Democratic behavior that was intended to appease Latino voters: Democrats call for open borders and the Democrats subscription to woke ideology. Turns out your average Latino voter believes in border security and does not want to be referred to as “Latinx.” So AOC would be a curious appointment with respect to competition for the Latino vote; AOC is of course Latina. But she’s exceedingly woke, and she’s also perceived as a full-blown leftist – factors which may dissuade Latino voters.
Choosing AOC for the VP slot would be a bold move. Given AOC’s lack of experience it’s unlikely she’ll get the call in 2024, but weirder things have happened.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he 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. He lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken. Follow him on Twitter @harrison_kass.