Navigating the Complexities – The Joe Biden – Kamala Harris Dynamic and the Evolving Role of the Vice President.

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( The position of vice president is sometimes subject to more criticism than the president. Of course, that depends on the president and if the vice president is undermining the prez’s message or making their job harder. Mind you, this doesn’t work the other way around. The VP is expected to bolster the president’s message, fill in for what the president lacks, and basically cover for the chief.

This hasn’t always been the case as you have had VPs who complicated the president’s job and eventually made their legacy questionable or problematic. Bush-Cheney is probably one of the weirder president-VP relationships of modern history. The nature of President Lyndon B. Johnson taking power immediately after JFK’s assassination and first lady Jacqueline Kennedy‘s recollection of the JFK-LBJ relationship also makes for an odd relationship.

Navigating the Complexities - The Joe Biden - Kamala Harris Dynamic and the Evolving Role of the Vice President.

The Joe Biden-Kamala Harris Combo

This brings us to Kamala Harris and how she compliments Joe Biden. There is a belief that she is bad at her job. The reasons vary from she simply isn’t doing enough to she’s not covering for Joe when he makes social flub—and any other reason in between.

Now, the second mentioned reason makes sense. A presidential candidate shouldn’t be mushed-mouthed and tongue-twisted in speaking to the public. They should be wizards with words. That doesn’t mean they have to be the most eloquent–it’s expected—but charisma is necessary. After several candidates washed out of the Democratic running for president, Biden had his pick of decent running mates.

Kamala Harris ended up being his choice and it was a choice that assisted in winning the Oval Office. The thing is that Harris filled in where Biden lacked. While he was familiar to Black voters nationally and his voting history was revisited, that history is problematic at certain points. Harris teaming up Biden brought along part of a demographic that either wanted her as the nominee or weren’t entirely sold on Biden.

Again, she brought part of that demographic. She has some problematic business in her own history as a prosecutor in California that conflicts with where the Democratic party is moving regarding the role of prison, marijuana sentencing, and so on.

All of this is extensive, and the point isn’t their histories—that’s backstory. The important thing is if Kamala Haris is good at her job.

The Vice President’s Performance

This is a bit difficult to access because part of it is comparing her performance to previous VPs. Going with her two immediate predecessors—Biden and Pence—I can see why some observers would question what it is that she does.

See, I like my VPs not being the star of the show. Biden was somewhere between being behind the president/the scenes and being upfront on stage. He came to forefront when Obama needed to show the decorum of his position. Plus, being the first Black U.S President, those expectations were greater.

Pence was more behind the scenes but took a position on the stage if Trump’s message needed more tact or needed to sound more like someone read and had a hand in developing it. Harris has been a mostly behind the scenes VP. She has her meetings, if there is a tie that needs breaking in Congress she will oversee it.

When you do hear from her it is usually on a social issue—such as her speaking on the Tennessee Three—or some other issue of note. Biden is a good enough speaker to handle his own messages with tact but there are times when he flubs. That’s when Harris should be present to bolster and correct it.

Now, that isn’t to say she’s never there, but it would be nice to see her more often if to dull the whole “What is it that she does as VP” questions. The way I look at it is that she’s there as she is needed and after four years of Trump where we saw the White House Speaker and Pence often, not seeing Harris that much is something of a good sign.

Also, she’s a solid back up plan should something happen to Biden. She has assumed the role and powers of the president on at least one occasion and the country didn’t spontaneously combust—or rather the country wasn’t on fire any more than it usually is.

I’m not going to say that things were better for that brief period, but it was like leaving the oldest child in charge of the house while the parents head out for the evening. Parents expect the house not to be a burning frame and the other kids to be alive when they return. It’s not too much to ask.

Harris can be heavy-handed when speaking on certain issues but so can Biden. It’s a tag team where the dynamic is different from the Obama-Biden combo but still effective. She doesn’t complicate things for Biden while they both kind of do their duties only tagging out when necessary.


I believe another element to the belief that she is doing a bad job is like Obama when he was in office: expectations. There are many who believe Obama was a bad president but then again, every president who has been in the almost 40 years I’ve been alive have been considered bad in some way.

In Obama’s case, there were expectations of what he would do for Black Americans and other people of color because of his significance as a First. It wasn’t the main reason why he got the bad prez reputation, but it didn’t make his terms any easier. Never mind that he was basically doing janitorial duties for a conflict that started in the first term of his predecessor.

Kamala is another First in multiple ways and expectations come with that distinction. While belief that she is bad as VP can be valid if you look at her work and concluded “This could be a better job.” However, if expectations based on her historical significance come into play those conclusions are suspect at best.

My expectation of a good VP is simply to not complicate the president’s job and back them up when necessary. Those expectations are pretty mild and Harris hasn’t complicated Biden’s job. He gets to cook but often, his words and phrasing are allowed to breathe without his VP’s nuance—which is a problem.

Part of backing the president up is to make sure they don’t look incompetent or clumsy. I can’t give a thumbs up on that but ultimately, I’d say she’s doing an acceptable job for what she is needed for, the current climate, and the work the administration needs to do. For that midway point, it comes down to if she is being a major detriment to the administration and if she is jeopardizing the country/the peace of the country by her words and actions.

Staff Writer; James Swift, Jr.

Gaming since 1989 and headbanging since 1999, James enjoys comics, RPGs, wrestling, and all things old school and retro. Check out his writing here AfroGamers and The Black Rock and Heavy Metal. You can also find him on Twitter at; metalswift and soon on Kick where he will stream mobile titles.

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