Election Day 2020 is 48 days away, and candidates are gearing up for the last push to convince voters to choose them as president. This week, a verbal slip-up by vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris has people wondering if Joe Biden has a long game in mind. Will Biden get elected, then step aside to make room for President Harris?
What Was Kamala’s Slip-up?
Conservative outlets have expressed concern for months that Biden might be a placeholder for Harris. The theory goes that Biden, being a moderate white male, will be more easily elected than Harris. Under this theory, Biden would step down soon after being elected, allowing would-be Vice President Harris to ascend to the presidency. Conservatives have been sounding alarms about this, “trojan horse,” style approach which would shoe-horn a progressive into power, a conservative nightmare.
This week, an otherwise innocent verbal slip has worried conservatives once again re-visiting the theory.
During a round-table event with small business owners in Arizona, Senator Harris made the kind of gaffe her running mate has made famous by substituting one word for another.
In response to one question, Harris said, “We need make sure you have a president in the White House who actually sees you, who understands your needs, who understands the dignity of your work and who has your back.
A Harris administration, together with Joe Biden as the president of the United States – the Biden-Harris administration will provide access to $100 billion in low-interest loans and investments for minority business owners.”
Is The Trojan Horse Approach Feasible?
Basically, yes. It’s possible for an elected president to step down in favor of his or her vice president. It’s happened before, albeit not in the manner of the bait-and-switch conservative outlets are sounding alarms over.
The better question would be, is this something Biden would do? It seems unlikely. Although critics have been touting Biden’s failing health and mental capacity as disqualifying qualities for the Democratic candidate, Biden seems hale and excited for the job. It’s one the former vice president has long coveted, although fate has conspired to keep him close but not quite president.
Where Did This Theory Come From?
It’s safe to say that if one can imagine a conspiracy theory about the 2020 election, it’s been discussed. From the unimaginable to the practical, political conspiracy theorists have been running wild over the past 6 months or so, working overtime to churn out often crazy theories on the off chance that one comes true. And, with 2020 being as it has been, it’s always possible that some of the crazier ones may come to pass.
This particular theory seems to have it’s origins in a CNN opinion piece written by editor-at-large Chris Cillizza, which briefly mentioned the possibility. In the piece, Cillizza discussed Biden’s reasons for choosing Harris as a running-mate and added, “What Biden did is make the pick that maximized his chances of continuing to make the race a straight referendum on Trump while also selecting someone, in Harris, whose resume suggests will be ready to step in if and when Biden decides to step aside.” Several conservative sites have linked to this piece in their discussion of the theory.
While it’s true, Harris is ready to assume presidential duties if Biden steps aside, the same could be said of Vice President Mike Pence. In fact, the same would be said of any vice president worth their salt, since that’s their most essential duty.
So Are We in for a Harris Administration?
It seems unlikely. If Biden and Harris win the election, a lot would have to happen for Harris to assume presidential duties. With Biden excited about the opportunity to become president and Harris free to move laterally as vice president to continue furthering a progressive agenda, both benefit from their respective positions. While it’s possible that there is a long game at play and voters will find themselves fooled by a bait-and-switch, it seems more likely that a Biden presidency would proceed like normal. Voters should always be aware of the vice presidential candidates running with their presidential candidates, however. At any point, for dozens of reason, a vice president could assume the presidency.