Will Kamala Harris make the difference?

Will Kamala Harris make the difference?

You've probably heard a lot in the past three days about Senator Kamala Harris, her background, and the ground-breaking nature of her candidacy for US vice president.

But now that the cheering crowds have logged off and the virtual confetti has been swept away, we're left with a basic question: will Kamala Harris make a difference — on the campaign trial and maybe in the White House — for Joe Biden?


There are three ways to answer that question.

Can she help Biden unseat President Donald Trump? Early evidence suggests Biden's choice of Harris is fairly popular. As the first black woman and first person of Asian descent on a presidential ticket, she might boost Biden's appeal at the margins with black voters, women, and Indian-Americans, though Biden is already popular with the first two groups.

Less tangibly, but perhaps more importantly, Harris' considerable energy and charisma can boost public excitement for a campaign led by the 77-year-old Biden, a man who has been active in US politics for half a century. On the other hand, her record as a San Francisco prosecutor and California attorney general will trouble some voters on the progressive left who want substantial reform of policing across the United States.

All that said, the historical evidence shows that voters don't care very much whose name appears second on the party ticket.

Can she serve as president on a moment's notice? The vice president's most important constitutional role is to become president if the boss can't continue. Gerald Ford (1974), Lyndon Johnson (1963), and Harry Truman (1945) are the most recent examples.

Senator Harris does have executive experience. As California Attorney General, she ran the second largest justice department in the United States, an organization with 5,000 employees.

She was much less successful, however, at the head of her own 2020 presidential campaign, a mysteriously dysfunctional operation that broke down before the first votes were cast in Democratic primaries.

If Biden wins, can she help him govern? When Biden introduced her on Wednesday as his campaign partner, he said he wants Harris to be the "last voice in the room" after other advisors are gone and someone who will "challenge my assumptions if she disagrees."

The prosecutorial precision with which Harris has questioned witnesses during Senate hearings, and her willingness to go after Biden on the debate stage while she was still a presidential candidate, suggest Harris has more than enough toughness and poise to fill that role. Also important: Biden's trust in Harris is boosted by her longstanding friendship with his late son Beau.

Here's a bonus question....

Is Kamala Harris the future of the Democratic Party? Not so fast. Ask a voter enthusiastic about Senator Harris what they like about her, and you're more likely to hear about her personal strengths and professional achievements than about policy positions.

Progressive voters, increasingly important for the future of the Democratic Party, know what Senator Bernie Sanders believes. They know that Senator Elizabeth Warren has "a plan for that," and they associate emerging star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with the "Green New Deal."

If Kamala Harris is to become the dominant voice in her party, she'll have to develop a brand that makes it easier for voters to identify her — and easier for rivals to attack her.

Bottom line: Harris has obvious value for Biden as a respected and trusted policy advisor. Her broader political appeal remains untested.

Emily Ademola lives in an area of Nigeria that has been attacked by Boko Haram militants in the past. Looking for water was very risky, and without access to water, the community – especially children – were at risk of waterborne diseases. Eni, in partnership with FAO, built a water well in Emily's community in 2019.

Watch Emily's first-hand account about how access to water "close to our doorsteps" has improved the quality of life for her community and her family.

There's never a great time to impose higher taxes on funeral services — but doing it in the middle of a raging pandemic is an especially bad move. Yet that was one of a number of measures that the Colombian government proposed last week in a controversial new tax bill that has provoked the country's largest and most violent protests in decades.

In the days since, the finance minister has resigned, the tax reform has been pulled, and President Iván Duque has called for fresh dialogue with activists, union leaders, and opposition politicians.

But demonstrations, vandalism, and deadly clashes with police have only intensified. Two dozen people are dead, 40 are missing, and the UN has criticized Colombian police for their heavy-handed response.

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While residents of wealthy countries are getting ready for hot vaxxed summer — COVID is still ravaging many low- and middle-income countries. The horrifying scenes coming out of India in recent weeks have gripped the world, causing governments and civil society to quickly mobilize and pledge support.

But on the other side of the globe, Brazil is also being pummeled by the pandemic — and has been for a year now. Yet thus far, the outpouring of aid and (solidarity) hasn't been as large.

What explains the global alarm at India's situation, and seeming passivity towards Brazil's plight? What are the politics of compassion?

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Paris-London face-off at sea: France and the UK are at loggerheads in the high seas this week over post-Brexit fishing access in Jersey, an island off the English Channel. Furious at regulations that they say makes it harder to fish in these lucrative waters, dozens of French fishing boats amassed near the Channel Island, threatening to block access to the port. In response, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson deployed two naval vessels — a move critics say was an unnecessary escalation, and an attempt by the PM to flex his muscles and bolster the Tory vote ahead of Thursday's regional election. France, for its part, sent its own naval ship and threatened to cut off Jersey's electricity supply, 90 percent of which comes from French underwater cables. Fishing rights was one of the final sticking points of Brexit trade negotiations, an emotive political issue for many Britons who say that they got a subpar deal when the UK joined the European Economic Community in the 1970s. Though an UK-EU Brexit agreement was finally reached in December 2020, it's clear that there are still thorny issues that need to be resolved.

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10: Joshua Wong was sentenced along with other Hong Kong democracy activists to 10 months in prison for participating in a vigil last year marking the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing. Wong is currently behind bars for participating in separate pro-democracy protests, and will only start this new sentence after that term concludes in November.

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What's the biggest foreign policy misconception that Americans have about the US's role in the world? According to international relations expert Tom Nichols, too few Americans believe that the US, in fact, has a critical role in the world, and that the things Americans enjoy, from cheap goods to safe streets, are made possible because of American global leadership. "Americans have become so spoiled and inured to the idea that the world is a dangerous place that they don't understand that the seas are navigable because someone makes them that way. They don't understand that peace between the great powers is not simply like the weather, that just happens," Nichols tells Ian Bremmer. Their conversation is featured on an episode of GZERO World, airing on US public television – check local listings.

Watch the episode: Make politics "boring" again: Joe Biden's first 100 Days

The cover story of The Economist declares that Taiwan is "The most dangerous place on Earth," because China might finally be ready to plan an invasion of the island. But are the consequences of such a move worth the many risks to China and its President Xi Jinping? Ian Bremmer breaks out the Red Pen to to explain why a US-China war over Taiwan is unlikely.

We are taking our red pen to a recent article from The Economist. The Economist, you ask, how could I? I love The Economist, I know, I know. But you'd lose respect if I give this piece a pass. In fact, it was the magazine's cover story this week, so I had no choice. The image and headline say it all. Here it is, Taiwan is now "the most dangerous place on earth" as US/China relations continue to sour in the opening months of President Biden's administration.

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Delhi-based reporter Barkha Dutt's decades of journalism couldn't prepare her for the horrific experience of covering the death of one specific COVID-19 victim: her own father. In a conversation with Ian Bremmer, Dutt recounts her desperate struggle to find an ambulance to take her father through Delhi traffic to reach the hospital, only for him to die in the ICU. Their in-depth discussion looks at India's struggle with the world's worst COVID crisis in the upcoming episode of GZERO World begins airing on US public television Friday, May 7. Check local listings.

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Would China really invade Taiwan?

The Red Pen

India’s COVID crisis hits home

GZERO World Clips
The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal