The Corner

Elections

The Democrats Are Probably Stuck with Kamala Harris

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the virtual Washington Conference on the Americas in Washington, May 4, 2021. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

I wrote today about the Democrats’ Kamala Harris problem.

One objection I’ve seen to my argument is that the Democrats don’t have to take Harris if she runs in 2024 or 2028 — or if she becomes president upon Joe Biden’s death and then wants to run again. This, of course, is true. But it would be unusual for the party to ditch her, and it would likely yield a harsh split if it tried.

In the last century, every incumbent vice president who has sought his party’s nomination has got it — except one. Al Gore did. George H. W. Bush did. Hubert Humphrey did. Richard Nixon did. Only Alben Barkley, who went for the nomination in 1952 while he was 74 years old and in failing health, did not. In addition, every vice president who has unexpectedly become president has been his party’s nominee at the subsequent election. LBJ was. Harry Truman was. Calvin Coolidge was, too.

The Democrats could, indeed, drop Harris. But, at the very least, they’d have to explain why it is so inspiring and incredible for the United States to have her as the vice president, but so undesirable to promote her to the White House. Given the pathologies that are currently running rampant in that party, that would likely prove pretty ugly indeed.

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