Kamala Harris Highlights Importance Of VP Role Amid Biden’s Health Concerns

In the wake of increasing concerns about President Joe Biden’s cognitive decline, discussions have intensified about the importance of the vice presidency, a role often overlooked until a crisis arises. This scrutiny has been particularly focused on Vice President Kamala Harris, who stands to assume the presidency if Biden is unable to continue his term.

Former UN Ambassador and anti-Trump political operative Nikki Haley emphasized the gravity of this possibility in an August 2023 interview with George Stephanopoulos, warning that Biden’s decline could lead to Harris becoming the next president, a prospect she described as alarming. Haley’s comments underscore a broader debate about the critical importance of the vice president, a position that has not seen an occupant ascend to the presidency in 60 years.

Historically, vice presidential picks are often made based on political strategy rather than governance. Biden’s selection of Harris in 2020 was influenced by the social and political climate of the time, including the Coronavirus pandemic, racial justice movements, and the #MeToo movement. Harris’s diverse background and progressive stance were seen as assets to the ticket, fitting the narrative the Democratic Party wanted to project.

As NPR noted in August 2020, Harris’s selection mirrored Biden’s 2008 vice-presidential role alongside Barack Obama, combining an experienced white politician with a younger, minority running mate. Harris checked numerous boxes: Black, Asian American, young, immigrant roots, liberal, and female. However, her lack of extensive leadership and policy experience compared to her predecessor Mike Pence became evident during their debate.

This raises the question of whether vice presidential candidates are being chosen for their ability to step into the presidency or merely for their appeal to voters. Historical vice presidential selections, from Dick Cheney’s foreign policy expertise to Al Gore’s political steadiness, illustrate the varying strategies behind these choices.

Kamala Harris’s vice presidency serves as a reminder that the role is more than ceremonial. With Biden in his eighties, the likelihood of Harris needing to assume the presidency is higher than usual. This reality brings to light the necessity for thorough vetting and consideration of vice presidential candidates, especially as both major presidential candidates in the upcoming election are well past the average life expectancy for American men.

As the election approaches, the Trump campaign will undoubtedly scrutinize Biden’s choice of running mate, emphasizing the potential consequences of a Harris presidency. The importance of the vice presidential role cannot be overstated, particularly when the current president’s health is a major concern. The nation must recognize the significance of this often-overlooked position, ensuring that vice presidential candidates are as capable and prepared as those they might succeed.