Faculty and Political Clubs Comment on 2020 Democratic Ticket


Joe Biden, following his victory in the Democratic Primaries, has chosen Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate. (Courtesy of Twitter)

In the months since Fordham students abruptly abandoned campus in March to finish the semester online, the news cycle has been largely dominated by the pandemic that sent them packing. 

With COVID-19 making headlines every day, as well as the coverage of Black Lives Matter protests that captured public attention this summer, the 2020 presidential election has sometimes been relegated to the background. 

However, several developments in the election have occurred since the pandemic swept across the United States. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden won a decisive victory in the remaining primary elections, defeating his closest competitor Senator Bernie Sanders by a margin of 2,687 delegates to 1,073 delegates, according to a count by The New York Times. 

In August, Biden accepted the Democratic nomination on the final night of the mostly virtual Democratic National Convention. In his acceptance speech, Biden criticized President Donald Trump, arguing that Trump “has failed to protect America” and criticizing his response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

A week later, Trump accepted the Republican nomination at the end of the Republican National Convention on the White House lawn. Trump also attacked his opponent, calling Biden a “Trojan horse for socialism” in his convention speech and criticizing Biden for his support of Black Lives Matter protests. (Biden has supported protesters but condemned rioting and looting in his convention speech.) 

Biden also chose California Senator Kamala Harris, a former rival in the Democratic primaries, as his running mate, which he first announced in an official email on Aug. 11, according to CNN

Biden’s selection of Harris is historic, as she is the first woman of color to be nominated for a national office by a major party, according to The New York Times. This choice is also notable because Harris famously criticized Biden during a Democratic presidential primary debate last year, calling him out for his failure to support using the federal government to enforce busing to promote racial integration in California schools.  

Dr. Robert Hume, a political science professor at Fordham, said that by choosing Harris as his vice-presidential candidate, Biden effectively signaled his understanding of the diversity within the Democratic Party. 

“This year, in particular, it was important for him to express his solidarity with Black Lives Matter, and his choice of Kamala Harris is a symbolic representation of this commitment,” Hume said. 

Claire McDonnell, FCRH ’21, the president of the College Democrats of Fordham University, said that as a woman of color much younger than Biden, Harris may be able to bring a new perspective to the campaign. However, McDonnell also raised concerns that Harris does not differ enough ideologically from Biden.

“Personally, I would have liked to see Biden pick a vice-presidential candidate who represents the more progressive wing of the Democratic Party,” she said. 

Harris’s record as a former prosecutor and attorney general of California has drawn criticism from leftists in the Democratic Party, who argue she was not aggressive enough when it came to police reform, according to The New York Times. Progressives also take issue with her decision to appeal a judge’s decision declaring the death penalty unconstitutional in California when she was attorney general. 

In an interview with The New York Times, Harris defended her history as a member of law enforcement. 

“I am a child of a community that was often on the not-great end of law enforcement, in terms of profiling and abuse,” she said. “And the decision I made was, ‘I’m going to try and go inside the system, where I don’t have to ask permission to change what needs to be changed.’”

Harris also expressed interest in shifting funding away from the police and towards other social programs in the same interview. “We do have to reimagine what public safety looks like,” she said. “It is status-quo thinking to believe that putting more police on the streets creates more safety. That’s wrong.” 

Despite reservations some progressives might have about Harris, McDonnell said she does not believe Biden’s choice of Harris as his running mate will be a major factor that prevents people from voting for him. 

“The state of the country is so dire I do not think it will pose as much of an obstacle,” McDonnell said. “I expect many people for whom Biden was not their preferred candidate will vote for him just to get Trump out of office and start moving in the right direction.”

Hume said Harris is ultimately a good choice for a vice presidential candidate beyond the diversity she brings to the Biden campaign. 

“The choice signaled to me that Biden is not just focused on the politics but on choosing people for his administration who are really well-qualified to assume these roles,” he said.