Kamala Harris: The Inconsequential – In normal times, the incumbent vice president of the United States should have more power, more sway, and more press coverage than a former president who left office more than two years ago. But, we live in extraordinary times, and not only is former President Donald Trump still dominating the headlines, but Vice President Kamala Harris has also become so inconsequential that many of us simply forget she even exists half the time.
Or is that just me?
When I last wrote about the vice president in January, I said she looks “lost.” At the time, I noted how Harris had just become the first woman to preside over the opening day of the United States Senate. It was a historic moment in politics, and for women, but it didn’t make her more popular. It didn’t win her any new credibility. If anything, it just briefly reminded Americans that she was still around.
Kamala Harris: The Ignored Cheerleader?
Just as I did the last time I wrote about Harris, this week I took a look at what the vice president has been up to – and other than picking peppers and inspecting drip irrigation systems at a farm in the capital of Zambia, the vice president’s schedule doesn’t seem to include anything truly consequential. Harris will visit a solar panel manufacturing plant in Dalton, Georgia, later this week as part of an effort to sell President Biden’s green economic agenda. But, as has been the case since her disastrous failure to address the border crisis at its “root cause,” the vice president’s role in government looks to have been reduced to a Biden cheerleader. A quiet, largely ignored cheerleader who keeps missing practice, at that.
Sure, the same could be said about former Vice President Mike Pence, or even Joe Biden during his time in the Obama administration. Vice presidents are really only there to stand in for the president when necessary and take over in the event that a president becomes incapacitated. There’s a reason why Armando Ianucci’s “Veep,” which chronicles fictional Vice President Selina Meyer’s daily struggle to achieve relevance, is so popular; the show embodies the old saying, “it’s funny because it’s true.” It’s not hard to imagine Harris running around the West Wing, shouting at interns, demanding more high-profile appearances, and bemoaning the fact that standing quietly behind the president makes up about 50% of her responsibilities.
While that could be said about most vice presidents, Kamala Harris is no typical vice president. Many on the right argue she is America’s first Affirmative Action vice president, some saying she was picked primarily for her racial and chromosomal credentials in spite of the fact she was among the least popular presidential candidates in the Democratic Party’s 2020 primary race. She was hand-picked by President Joe Biden – the old, straight, white, “cis” man – with the future in mind. Biden campaigned as a “transitional” president through 2020, leading many to speculate that he may not serve a full two terms and may hand over the most powerful role in the Western world to Harris in the hopes that she could A) win the Democratic nomination for 2028, and B) benefit from being an incumbent in the following election.
If Biden is still seriously thinking about doing that – assuming that was his intention to begin with – then allowing Harris to spearhead more consequential policy matters might be a wise move. Polls show that Harris’ overall popularity hasn’t moved dramatically upwards. Harris’ Real Clear Politics average favorability sits at just 38.1%, with her unfavorability rating averaging out at 51.9%. The figure was derived from polls by YouGov, Harris, Marquette, Politico, FOX, Selzer, and Marquette – none of which showed an approval rating above 43%. Among those polls were some particularly troubling figures for the Biden administration, too, including a 33% favorable rating from Marquette and three 54% unfavorable ratings.
For someone with so much social justice weight on her shoulders – she is, after all, meant to be the first female non-white president in history – it’s curious that the Biden administration hasn’t put Harris in charge of anything that American voters might actually care about. Perhaps that’s because Biden knows that the more people hear from her, the less they like her. Perhaps it’s because Harris just doesn’t care about the same issues as most Americans.
Or, perhaps Biden is hiding Harris in the hopes of winning the presidential election in 2024 by the skin of his teeth. Harris might have helped Biden win favor from progressives in his party during the campaign, but in government, she is a Woke dead weight anchored to his frail ankles. That could explain why she’s in Africa while the president struggles to prevent a Third World War and major banking crisis.
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That being said, Harris is inconsequential, quiet, and uninfluential through no choice of her own. The former California senator ran one of the most progressive presidential campaigns in history in 2020, and should Biden turn things around and give her a shot at the top job before the 2028 election, she could prove to be the most consequential president in American history.
Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive’s Breaking News Editor. He is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.