Joe Biden has pledged to announce his long-awaited pick for running mate by the end of next week. During a press conference on Tuesday, the former VP said, “I’m going to have a choice in the first week in August,” promising to let reporters “know when I do”.
Earlier this year, Biden vowed his pick would be a woman, leaving political talking heads and commentators to opine on his field of choices. Democratic Senator Kamala Harris was quickly identified as a probable contender, though it’s been reported that not everyone in the Biden camp was pleased. Former Senator Chris Dodd, a member of Biden’s vice presidential search committee, was reportedly concerned about Harris after she refused to apologise for embarrassing Biden on the first Democratic debate stage, righteously taking him to task for working with segregationists and landing on the wrong side of history on the issue of school bussing. “She laughed and said, ‘That’s politics.’ She had no remorse,” Dodd allegedly said, as reported by Politico.
And now a number of Biden’s supporters and most influential donors are reportedly working to stop Harris from becoming vice president, too, arguing that she is “too ambitious” and “will be solely focused on becoming president herself”.
Those clutching their pearls at the mere thought of a woman’s sincere motivation to ascend to a higher position of power seem to have no issue with Biden’s unyielding aspiration to become president, no matter what. Biden has ran for president three times – in 1988, 2008, and now – and while he declined to run in 2016, not even eight years serving as vice president of the United States could assuage his desire to one day sit behind the Resolute Desk.
And still, Biden has been branded a dedicated, life-long patriot, hellbent on securing the highest office in the land at the tender age of 77 – not because he’s blinded by ambition, we’re told, but because he feels a deep sense of duty to restore order to a crumbling nation. His twice-failed attempts to be elected president were not used as a sign he would attempt to siphon power from eventual President Barack Obama, either. In fact, per The New York Times, Biden was considered “a political heavyweight with limited political horizons”, and those around Obama assumed “that would ensure loyalty and minimal drama”.
Experience is to a man’s capability and potential for loyalty as that same experience is to a woman’s threatening presence and questionable motives.
Of course, this is not the first time a woman who dares to exist in the political sphere has been labelled “too ambitious”. Fox News editor Chris Stirewalt said Senator Elizabeth Warren came off as “too ambitious, too needy, too much” during her 2020 presidential candidacy, adding that Warren’s “stench of need”, “the rapacious hunger”, and “the unshakeable thirst for votes” reminded him of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
In January of last year, noted anti-choice zealot Alexandra DeSanctis wrote an article titled “The Opportunism of Kristen Gillibrand” for the National Review, in which she labeled the Democratic senator “nothing if not a shrewd, calculating politician”. And Kimberly Ross, who is also anti-choice, wrote an opinion article for the Washington Examiner titled “Stacey Abrams feels entitled to power, which is why she shouldn’t get it” in April of this year, arguing Abrams feels “entitled to the vice presidency” and is “obsessively ambitious”.
In fact, numerous studies have shown that a woman’s likeability, be it in the boardroom or on the debate stage, isn’t dependent on her success or acumen, but her ability to “project warmth” and make those around her feel comfortable.
Americans know that the country as a whole would benefit greatly if more women were in positions of power. According to a 2018 Pew Research Center study, 69 percent of Americans say “having more women in top positions in business and government would improve the quality of life at least somewhat for all Americans”. The same survey found that the majority of Americans believe women in leadership positions do a better job of reaching compromises, standing up for what they believe in, and are better equipped to serve as role models for children.
Biden seems to know it, too. An AP photographer captured the soon-to-be Democratic nominee for president’s handwritten notes as he took questions from reporters on Tuesday. At the very top was the name Kamala Harris, and underneath the senator’s name read: “Do not hold grudges,” “Campaigned with me & Jill,” “Talented,” “Great help to campaign,” “Great respect for her.”
In theory, Americans like the idea of a woman in a leadership position, and the majority believe when given the opportunity, a woman will do a better job as a leader than a man. But in practice, we despise everything that is required of women in order to secure and hold those positions. Instead, we seem more than happy to simply dangle an empty seat at the decision-making table in front of women who aspire to more, proud to be a country where those positions exist for women, but dedicated to ensuring they remain either vacant or burdened by sexism and misogyny. Many still believe the mantra that “behind every successful man is a woman”, and they like it that way: a woman playing a supporting role to a man’s career, just as she might once have done for her husband.
It is impossible to know for sure who Biden will pick as his running mate prior to next week’s announcement. But if it is 77-year-old Biden who walks away from what is sure to be a contentious 2020 presidential election victorious, we should all hope – nay, expect – his right-hand woman to be prepared, dedicated, confident, knowledgeable, and ambitious enough to step into the weighted shoes of the president, should the need arise.