There’s no reason for Kamala Harris to participate any longer in the failing presidency of Joe Biden. If she chooses to assert her constitutional authority and seeks to build a majority political coalition, she can unify the country, ensure American prosperity and win election to the presidency in 2024. Starting today she can simply decide unilaterally to dominate policy-making in what’s left of the Biden era.
This week brings more reports of her struggle to add value to Team Biden. But this team is losing and she can best help the country and herself by entering the political equivalent of the NCAA transfer portal.
Recent polling finds that Americans increasingly view President Biden as incompetent, untrustworthy, and partisan. His hateful and dishonest rhetoric this week on the subject of voting laws gives voters no reason to alter their views.
As Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) ably described the problem on Wednesday:
Twelve months ago, a newly-inaugurated President Biden stood on the West Front of the Capitol and said this: “My whole soul is in this: bringing America together, uniting our people, and uniting our nation.” Yesterday, the same man delivered a deliberately divisive speech that was designed to pull our country farther apart
Twelve months ago, this President said we should “see each other not as adversaries, but as neighbors.” Yesterday, he called millions of Americans his domestic “enemies.”
…Twelve months ago, this President said that “disagreement must not lead to disunion.” But, yesterday, he invoked the bloody disunion of the Civil War to demonize Americans who disagree with him. He compared a bipartisan majority of Senators to literal traitors…
He used the phrase “Jim Crow 2.0” to demagogue a law that makes the franchise more accessible than in his own state of Delaware. He blasted Georgia’s procedures regarding local elections officials while pushing national legislation with almost identical language on that issue.
The President implied things like widely-popular voter I.D. laws are “totalitarian” on the same day Washington D.C.’s Democratic mayor told citizens to bring both a photo I.D. and a vaccine card anytime they leave their house.
The President repeatedly invoked the January 6th riot while himself using irresponsible, delegitimizing rhetoric that undermines our democracy.
The sitting President of the United States of America compared American states to “totalitarian states”. He said our country will be an “autocracy” if he does not get his way.
The world saw our sitting Commander-in-Chief propagandize against his own country to a degree that would have made Pravda blush.
Vice President Harris has also engaged in destructive rhetoric and she may even believe it, but she enjoys a historic political opportunity to cast it aside, move toward centrism and sensibility, and be the leader who unites America.
First, she needs to reject the modern Beltway conventions of her office. In yet another press account about efforts to overhaul her role in the Biden administration and her public image, Francesca Chambers of McClatchy reports:
In interviews, 11 people familiar with Harris’ operation — some of whom requested anonymity to speak candidly about private conversations — described the effort to reshape the narrative around her vice presidency. A White House official said that no dramatic shift in direction was underway, even as Harris hired a new communications director and worked to fill other high-level press and public relations positions…
Elaine Kamarck, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who was a senior policy adviser to former Vice President Al Gore, said higher visibility could help with public criticism, but Harris is supposed to be “invisible.” If Harris draws more attention to herself, Kamarck said, she could jeopardize her relationship with Biden and make him look weak.
“I think that there’s been a profound misunderstanding — and it comes from some of her supporters as well as from some of her critics — about what this job is,” Kamarck said.
Kamarck said Harris backers who thought the job would be different because she is the first woman and person of color to hold the position were mistaken.
“Things are not going to be different about the job itself,” Kamarck said. “The job is still to support Joe Biden and what Joe Biden does.”
No, it is not. The vice president, who has expressed a refreshing desire to literally spend more time outside of Washington, should also spend more time figuratively standing outside the Beltway. She might wish to reread a New York Sun editorial from November:
Could Kamala Harris become a truly radical vice president, meaning one who would restore the highest office in the Senate to its original constitutional concept? We ask because of the reports that the relationship between her and President Biden has collapsed…
Our own suggestion is that Ms. Harris should quit. We don’t mean that she should resign the vice presidency. On the contrary, she should quit the White House. The thing for her to remember is that — constitutionally — the vice president doesn’t report to the president. The vice president can’t be fired by the president. She can’t even be told what to do. She was elected in her own right.
The fact is that in some technical sense it’s not clear whether she is even part of the executive branch. We grasp that there are differences of opinion on this head. Her one constitutional assignment, though, is as president of the Senate, where she has the not-so-insignificant power to break ties. One would think that in a divided Senate in which each party has 50 seats, she could make quite an impact.
So the logic, in our view, is for her to pack up her desk in the Executive Office Building and the other desk in the West Wing, pick up her brief case, get in her limo, and go to the Senate. It happens that one of the stateliest offices in Washington, known as the vice president’s room, is always there for her. She could then send a note to Mr. Biden (and the newspapers) letting them know that she’s moved her base of operations.
Observing how poorly voters have reacted to Mr. Biden’s effort to govern from the left, Ms. Harris should recognize the power she holds to move Washington lawmaking toward the center. By putting her vote in play she can take the leading role in fashioning federal legislation. Leave Mr. Biden the chore of trying to run all the dysfunctional programs already enacted and take over the fun job of deciding what gets enacted next week.
She could not be dismissed by fellow Democrats as an ambassador from Trump country. Ms. Harris’s history as a politician of the left from deep-blue California would give her the leverage to break the progressive left’s disastrous lock on Democratic policy-making and poisonous anti-American rhetoric.
And she wouldn’t need to move all that far toward the center to appear reasonable and become formidable as a 2024 contender. Stop pretending that voter ID requirements amount to tyranny. Stop trying to tear up the structure and traditions of American governance. Stop casting political opponents as enemies. Stop trying to enact a Sandernista revolution in the U.S. economy.
It’s really not that hard picturing Kamala Harris as the most powerful person in the country. Perhaps some people already do. Andrew Mark Miller reports for Fox News:
President Biden Tuesday referred to his vice president, Kamala Harris, as “President Harris” in yet another verbal flub by the gaffe-prone leader…
Biden, who was speaking about voting rights to students at the Atlanta University Center Consortium on the campus of Clark Atlanta University and Morehouse College, apparently didn’t notice his mistake, not bothering to correct himself.
Mr. Biden could be on to something.