Kamala Harris made history in recent months; becoming the first woman to be elected as Vice President Of the United States — and the first one of colour to boot!
That’s an astonishing accomplishment, but she may well have a lot more history to make yet.
Attaining The Highest Office In The Land
Joe Biden has just become the oldest ever person elected to the Presidency.
Ascending at the age of 78 means he would be 82 going into his second term, and 86 when finishing it. It is extremely likely that he will not serve out his full term.
There is also a real possibility that Trump will run again in 2024.
While a sitting President typically enjoys the benefit of incumbency against their opponents in elections — a sitting President versus an ex-President might be a very different type of contest — as evidenced from the time Teddy Roosevelt ran against Taft.
To capitalise upon the incumbency advantage (which includes the sitting president having a relatively straightforward primary to secure their party’s nomination), Biden may resign in favour of Harris during the latter half of his term — making her the first female President in American history.
This would hopefully set her up for a win against a 78-year-old Trump in 2024.
Serving for Ten Years
While Presidents typically cannot hold office more than two terms; the twenty-second amendment allows someone who unexpectedly takes over the presidency more than two years into a term, to hold two more terms.
This might allow Kamala Harris to take over from Biden in 2022, and — with the benefits of incumbency win in 2024 and 2028 too. This would see her tenure span 2022–2032.
Ten years in the Whitehouse would see her having the second-longest presidency in American history (after FDR).
How Might This Presidency Be Different?
Apart from her being a woman, and a person of colour — there are a few ways in which this Presidency might be a little different, despite its length:
#1: She’ll have no VP (initially)
There is no defined order of succession by which a new VP is automatically appointed should Biden hand the presidency over to Harris partway through his term.
Harris will need to nominate a new person who in turn will need to be confirmed by both houses of Congress. This is what had to happen when both Gerald Ford and Nelson Rockerfeller had to be confirmed as Veeps when their predecessors suddenly stepped up to the Presidency.
Given that Mitch McConnell has vowed to continue his obstructionism if he retains control of the senate; it may be that he will prevent the ascension of a new Vice President — at least until the 2024 election wherein whomever Harris’ takes on as a running mate will become Veep.
This will not be the first time that the Vice Presidency becomes unoccupied. When LBJ replaced JFK as President; the VP role remained vacant until the next election.
#2: She may never have control of both houses
The Senate is divided into three classes: elected 3 years apart.
Classes 2 and 3 — up for re-election in 2020 and 2022 respectively; favour Democrats. This is because they are defending relatively few seats at these elections (compared to the Republicans), and thus have an opportunity to win more than they lose.
Class 1 — due for re-election in 2024; favours Republicans. This might mean that unless Democrats take the senate in 2022 (with a clear majority no less as there might not be a VP under Harris to break any tied votes), they will remain a minority in the senate through to 2026.
In terms of the House — while it is in Democrat control, it remains so by a wafer-thin margin.
The 2020 elections saw Republicans win the vast majority of places in which redistricting will occur in the next few years off the back of the most recent census. They will no doubt gerrymander these seats thereby all but ensuring that the Republicans will take the House for most of the next decade.
To further drive the nail into the coffin; historically — Presidents tend to lose seats in both the House and the Senate during midterm elections.
Combined with the factors above — any Harris presidency is likely to be stymied by congressional gridlock; despite a decade long tenure.
What’re your thoughts? Do you think Harris will takeover the Presidency after the 2022 mid-terms? Will Biden seek a second term in 2024?
Let me know in the comments below!
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