The recent social climate has elevated the possibility that Joe Biden will choose an African-American woman as his running mate for the 2020 presidential race. Names often floated for consideration are Stacey Abrams, Senator Kamala Harris, Rep. Val Demings and recently, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. The most outspoken of the bunch, Stacey Abrams, has many believing that she brings more to the ticket than all his other options, Black or not. However, I would disagree with this assessment that she is the best choice for a few reasons.
For starters, the democratic ticket will not be a vote for Joe Biden, but rather for his running mate. Those voting for him want to know that his second in command will carry out the agenda he champions during his campaign. His age makes this choice the most critical since John F. Kennedy selected Lyndon B. Johnson to sew up the South.
Domestically, the issues are pronounced on what needs to be done. Aside from the protest demanding federal policing standards, the federal government needs to balance the budget by possibly creating a surplus, as well as shoring up social programs.
Internationally, the problems are more complicated. The reality is once one president has rung a bell, it is awfully hard for even their successor of a different party to un-ring the bell and get out clean. We saw this with President Trump pulling the U.S. out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (Iran Nuclear Deal), resulting in rising tensions that only a global pandemic could temporarily push to the side. Then there was his decision to withdraw from Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). While this deal seemed minimal on its impact to the U.S. bottom line, the only reason Trump would walk away from any deal, it meant that the U.S. lost its influence in part of the developing world while China has shored up its support in the developing world for years. While this part of the map makes no difference to President Trump and his allies, the U.S. has allowed China to continue its strong arm tactics with little resistance from those around them and U.S. allies by neglecting these areas. This has been seen most recently with China’s encroaching on Hong Kong’s autonomy.
If Stacey Abrams were to become his running mate, she would face a steep learning curve, as well as a need to build relationships with domestic and international leaders should Biden win. Per an online biography, she has been on a dozen international fellowships, a lifetime member of the Council of Foreign Relations and has only been featured in foreign affairs where her bona fides are lacking. Unfortunately, it is not entirely Abrams' fault, since the type of foreign policy bona fides needed for the executive are often honed while holding federal office or working within the department cabinets, foreign service or military.
Vice President Biden is an international heavyweight, one of the primary reasons former President Barack Obama selected him as his running mate in 2008. Abrams lack of foreign policy experience could see the VP position become a hollowed-out office where former politicians and statesmen are buried before they have died, once again.
If Democrats attacked Trump for his lack of governmental experience, Biden selecting Abrams would bring the same conversation back to the forefront, making this an election on experience and readiness. While Biden shows no signs of slowing down, his age is on the mind of many voters. If he were to select Abrams, it would undercut the experience argument he uses to convince voters his administration will be one of steady leadership. Abrams' pitch has been that she can bring in a core group of young, diverse voters — similar to Bernie Sanders' argument during both of his failed bids for the Democratic nomination.
The people who they “energize” tend to be apathetic to national presidential elections and do not show up to the polls come November. If this is Stacey Abrams’ best pitch, it is also her greatest liability, aside from her lack of foreign policy experience. Her presence on the ticket may fill a lot of arenas, but will it fill the polls?