What role will Kamala Harris play?
She’s already expected as the Democratic standard bearer for 2024, but what will the most influential Vice President in modern history actually do?
Kamala Harris was always going to be a big deal. She’s the first woman VP, the first VP of colour, and the VP the man who will be (come 2022) the first ever octogenarian POTUS. Harris will have to be ready to assume the mantle of the Presidency at a moment’s notice, because of the health risks someone like Joe Biden will have purely down to his advanced age and exceptionally stressful job.
Harris could well be the first woman President, and these four years will likely determine whether that comes to pass, begging the question: what exactly will a Vice President Harris do in a Biden administration?
Biden has talked of giving her the same role and responsibilities he was given as VP, but with more leeway. From that we can imagine Harris being the last woman in the room when Biden is making a key decision, and we can expect her to be fully clued in on all operations undertaken, with a comprehensive overview of the policy portfolio; it’s going to be a tough job.
Alongside this, we can assume Harris will be delegated various operations to oversee (too soon to imagine which), potentially overseeing the stimulus as Biden did, or negotiating with Congress. As the first black woman in such a senior position, you could see her take on racial justice issues, or indeed something she focused on in the Senate towards the end, or indeed gender inequality issues, but it could easily be anything, and her identity hardly dictates her policy portfolio.
In terms of being given more leeway and freedom; my guess would be Harris will be assigned even more responsibility than Biden was, allowing Biden to be the chief executive, but not the micro-manager. Harris clearly wants to DO things, rather than be a part of the furniture, and by all accounts Biden is willing to delegate chunks of policy to others.
Harris will be as integral a part of the administration as Biden, in ways we haven’t had to reckon with before. Vice Presidents have faded into obscurity, mediocrity, or infamy, but none have been as central as Harris will be; not only is she the heir apparent for the Democratic establishment, but she’s on notice to take over in the event something happens to an octogenarian President, and has shattered multiple glass ceilings to get where she is.
Watching Harris over the next four years will much more telling regards the future of the Democratic party, and the country, than watching Biden. It’s a Biden administration, but Harris is the star.