Heidi Stevens: I love Elizabeth Warren, but I hope Joe Biden doesn’t choose her for vice president

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I love Elizabeth Warren.

She’s got the intellectual breadth of a policy wonk, the strategic touch of a U.S. senator who’s served on banking, housing, health, education, labor and pensions committees, the gentle, no-nonsense grace of a longtime schoolteacher, a progressive agenda, boundless energy, a sly wit and an enormous heart.

She should not be Joe Biden’s pick for vice president.

An all-white ticket is not going to take this country where it needs to go at this moment. You can call it identity politics, and maybe it is, but your identity gives you a lens and a set of lived experiences that you bring with you when you get a seat at the table. And we need that lens and those experiences to reflect what it’s like to live and breathe in this country in skin that’s not white.

The death of George Floyd unleashed a long-overdue reckoning. In the five weeks since he was killed in police custody, sustained protests have swept through huge cities and tiny towns across the globe; NASCAR banned the Confederate flag from its races; food companies vowed to remove racist branding; states moved to declare Juneteenth an official state holiday; state and local governments have taken up criminal justice reform; school districts are evaluating the role of police in schools; Confederate statues have been toppled; Robin DiAngelo’s 2-year-old “White Fragility” knocked the “Hunger Games” prequel from USA Today’s bestseller list; the New York Times bestseller list has been dominated by books about race and racism; newsrooms across the country (including mine) moved to capitalize the B in Black when referring to people, and conversations about bias and blind spots and complicity and allyship and diversity and equality have sprung up in families and classrooms and boardrooms and houses of worship and all sorts of places in between.

Does the movement have its detractors? Of course. NASCAR announced on Sunday that a noose was found in the garage stall of Black driver Bubba Wallace. Will the movement nevertheless persist (hat tip to Warren), in moving this nation toward a more just, more equitable version of itself? I believe it will.

And a Black woman in the vice president slot, I believe, will get us there even faster.

Biden has already committed to selecting a woman as his running mate, which I applaud. Representative government works best when it represents the needs and hopes and goals and fears and experiences of as many of its people as possible. This moment calls for a Black woman to help us usher in a brighter future.

Biden’s reported short list includes several Black women with legislative and leadership experience: California Sen. Kamala Harris, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, former national security adviser Susan Rice and Stacey Abrams, former minority leader in the Georgia House of Representatives and the first Black woman to win a gubernatorial nomination for either political party, among them.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota took herself out of the running for Biden’s No. 2 spot last week. “I think this is a moment to put a woman of color on that ticket,” she told MSNBC.

On Sunday, Warren was asked on Boston TV station WCVB’s “On the Record” whether she’d make a similar move. She stopped short of saying she would.

“Any decision is up to the vice president,” Warren replied (referring to Biden). “Every woman being considered is extremely qualified and would be an asset for the vice president both in his campaign for the presidency and in the White House. Whoever he chooses, I am 100% committed to doing what it takes to electing Joe Biden and helping elect Democrats up and down the ballot. I am all in.”

Fine. She doesn’t need to remove herself from the running. But I hope when it’s time for Biden to select his top pick from a field that’s rich with talent and knowledge and ideas and experience, he recognizes that we need a team of leaders who can guide us into and through a national dialogue on race and reckoning and necessary policy changes. And that dialogue shouldn’t be led by two white voices at the top. We’ve done that too many times. Not again. Not right now.



Heidi Stevens is a lifestyle columnist for the Chicago Tribune.


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