Profile: Joe Biden & Kamala Harris

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the Democratic nominees for President and Vice President respectively, running against incumbent President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. Both nominees have made their careers as politicians and have many years under their belt.

Joe Biden has worked as a politician for most of his life, he started his political career in 1972 as a senator from Delaware. As a Senator, he stood for consumer protection, environmental issues and called for greater government accountability. He would also establish a reputation for working with Republicans and making friends across the aisle. Biden ran for President twice, once in 1988 and again in 2008. Biden withdrew from the 1988 election because of allegations of plagiarizing a speech from British Labour MP Neil Kinnock. In 2008 he ran again, and failed to obtain much media coverage. He would and drop out of the race after receiving less than one percent of the vote in the Iowa Caucus.

After Barack Obama’s victory in the Democratic primaries, he would nominate then Senator Biden as his Vice Presidential candidate. The two would go on to win a comfortable election victory, making Obama the first African-American President in American history. As Vice President, Biden was a critical counselor to President Obama. He advised against sending further troops into Afghanistan but in favor of CIA action to overthrow Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi, campaigned for gun control publicly and privately, and lead the effort to end the 2016 government shutdown.

Kamala Harris has been working in politics since 2002, she served as District Attorney of San Francisco. Kamala was especially known for being harder on crime, but not as hard on cops. In the early 2000s when the murder rate in California spiked, Kamala took on nearly fifty cases and ended up with an 86% success rate. She then served as Attorney General of California in 2010 and 2014. As attorney general, Kamala Harris helped organize the San Francisco Reentry Division and in turn the Back on Track initiative, which assisted first-time nonviolent offenders between the ages 18-30. The program required 220 hours of community service, obtaining a high-school-equivalency diploma, maintaining steady employment, taking parenting classes, and passing drug tests. The Back on Track program is recognized by the Department of Justice as a model for re-entry programs. 

Harris was elected Senator of California in 2016. As a Senator, she tried to make lynching a federal hate crime and criticized Trump’s appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. Kamala labels herself a “Top Cop”, and said in her book Smart on Crime, saying that “virtually all law-abiding citizens feel safer when they see officers walking a beat.” Kamala would then run for President in 2020. Kamala Harris criticized Joe Biden for his opposition to busing in the 1970’s, a moment that would bring her to a brief lead in the polls before a tough exchange with Congressman Tulsi Gabbard in the 2nd Democratic Debate. She would drop out before the Iowa Caucus. 

The 2020 Presidential ticket is a historic one, with the first black woman and the first south Asian woman on the ticket of a major political party. The ticket has many strengths and flaws, with both candidates emphasizing their experience and records over bold change and drastic actions. No matter which party wins in November, this election is sure to be one for the history books.

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