Would VP Harris be treated better if she were ‘white and male,’ as alleged?

Elijah Nouvelage / REUTERS

Fact Box

  • Kamala Harris is the first female vice president of the United States sworn in on January 20, 2021. Previously, she was the US Senator for California, the second Black woman and first South Asian-American senator in history.
  • On December 21, 2021, The New York Times posted an article, Heir Apparent or Afterthought? The Frustrations of Kamala Harris, saying Vice President Harris allegedly “privately told her allies that the news coverage of her would be different if she were any of her 48 predecessors, whom she has described as all white and male.” 
  • On November 8, 2021, USA TODAY and Suffolk University found that Vice President Harris had a 28% approval rating while President Biden had a 38% rating. 
  • In comparison, former Vice President Dick Cheney had the lowest approval rating at 30% in 2007 via a Gallup poll.

Siam (No)

Kamala Harris is not only the United States' first female vice president but also the first woman of color to serve the post. When she was appointed VP, she was highly celebrated (compared to her party-counterpart predecessor), and it was expected she would do much better, setting high standards for women globally. But only eleven months into her job, she has been regularly criticized, and for good reason. Just recently, the New York Times paraphrased her as saying she 'would have been treated much better if she were a white male.' Unfortunately, Harris appears to be playing the race and gender card instead of working on her abundant failures

Her criticisms have more to do with her abject lack of succeeding in her station as well as many other things

Firstly, she wanted to be selective about portfolios assigned to her. For example, she never wanted to get involved with the border situation, and it took many months before she took a trip south to the border to understand the issues better. Even when she went, this was an impulsive action that left many of her staff unprepared. 

Harris has not undertaken a single major role as a VP, missed out on many important meetings, and left everything to President Biden. Even when making difficult decisions, she has always blamed her staff for any failures. As a VP, one must take the glory as well as the shame. What's worse, she has a revolving door in her department as her staff continues to depart; the reason they claim is how she looks down on them, faulting them for everything, and lacks leadership qualities. The overall feeling is that Harris is simply unprepared for the job

At the White House level, politicians are judged by their actions, not by skin color or sex. Barack Obama and Donald Trump faced even more criticism than Harris ever has, but the criticism caused them to work harder in office. 


Tyler (Yes) 

Conservatives like Donald Trump Jr. have questioned Harris' race, sharing posts on Twitter claiming that Harris wasn't an 'American black.' She has faced criticism simply due to the diversity of her heritage since that seems to be unfamiliar to others. If Harris were a white male, she would easily blend in with the rest of the politicians and face significantly less criticism for her culture. 

Trump Jr.'s criticism of Harris is strikingly similar to when his father, Donald Trump Sr., questioned Barack Obama's race throughout Obama's time in office, even after he provided a birth certificate. Since the former president did not have what Trump deemed to be a conventional American name, he suggested that Obama wasn't an American.

Even though Harris is not herself an African-American, Harris' Indian and Jamaican race has made her a scapegoat for the mass incarceration of Blacks in the United States. Her critics seem to have little public qualms with their mass incarceration while other white males were in office but choose to criticize her despite her work proving that she has done more to combat mass incarceration than promote it. 

It seems that Harris has faced less scrutiny than her ally President Joe Biden. While Biden's overall job approval rating sits at 38%, Harris received a rating of 28%. Biden's decisions are often a reflection of Harris, who certainly influences the president. Harris, who had low expectations from many before even taking office, is expected to hold her own weight as well as President Biden's.

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