Vice President Kamala Harris visited Hampton University on Thursday, part of her nationwide college tour named “Fight for Our Freedoms,” to address students on the importance of government ensuring “equal outcomes.”
During her speech, Harris stressed, “If we want equal outcomes, we need to take into account not everybody starts out on the same base, and we have to make adjustments.” She emphasized understanding disparities and making necessary accommodations for achieving fair outcomes.
The college tour is seen by many as an effort to boost Harris’s approval ratings, which have been at a low point, and alleviate concerns among Democrats about her potential impact on President Joe Biden’s reelection bid.
Recent remarks by prominent Democrats like Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Jamie Raskin, who declined to firmly endorse Harris as the ideal vice-presidential candidate, have added to speculation and scrutiny surrounding her position.
Outcome vs. Opportunity
In the United States, the debate between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome is a fundamental ideological division that underpins various policy discussions and political discourse. These two concepts represent differing views on how to achieve fairness and social justice within society.
Equality of opportunity is a belief that everyone should have an equal chance to succeed, irrespective of their background, social status, or circumstances of birth. Advocates of this principle argue for a level playing field where individuals can compete based on their talents, abilities, and efforts, rather than facing discrimination or unequal circumstances that limit their potential.
Equality of outcome, on the other hand, emphasizes a more egalitarian approach, aiming for a society where everyone enjoys similar levels of material wealth, social privileges, and opportunities, regardless of their starting point. Advocates of this principle argue that true equality is achieved only when everyone reaches a similar standard of living and outcomes.
What the Experts Told 19FortyFive on Kamala Harris
Harrison Griffiths, a communications specialist at London’s Institute of Economic Affairs, a UK-based free-market think tank, told 19FortyFive: “Kamala Harris has confused fair outcomes with equal outcomes. The promise of America articulated in the 14th Amendment, is that people will enjoy equal protection of the law. If the law treats individuals fairly, outcomes will never be equal.
“Of course, there are still instances where individuals are discriminated against by the legal system because of characteristics like race, sex, and class. These disparities should be urgently addressed by policymakers and courts.
“But it is self-evident that individuals have different skills and make different choices. Therefore, any attempt to equalize outcomes necessarily means significant state interference with peaceful peoples’ free choices. There is no more anti-American ideology than that.”
Gary Frankel A Ph.D. researcher in education policy at Texas A&M University echoed Griffith’s skeptical approach, telling 19FortyFive “The Vice President may be referring to a genuine equality of opportunity — which would theoretically ensure equal outcomes — rather than advocating that the government ditch merit entirely.”
However, Frankel admitted feeling “worried that this statement will put further pressure on a merit-based system that’s already under duress. Parents and educators have a hard enough time as it is maximizing a given student’s potential. Abandoning merit would only cause resentment and frustration while doing little to appreciably improve student outcomes.”
Georgia Gilholy is a journalist based in the United Kingdom who has been published in Newsweek, The Times of Israel, and the Spectator. Gilholy writes about international politics, culture, and education.