Kamala: Next in Line
Not the Last
Joy Reid: November 3rd, Election Day. And as the clock ticks down, the polls start to close.
Archival Recording: Polls close in Georgia, Virginia, and most of Florida at 7:00 p.m. At 7:30 we get North Carolina and Ohio.
Reid: In the final hours of the presidential election, Joe Biden had made one last visit to Pennsylvania before heading home to Delaware. Meanwhile, Kamala Harris took a last minute tour to Detroit, Michigan, trying to drum up some Election Day energy in the battleground state.
Kamala Harris: The polls close at what time today? (BACKGROUND VOICE) 8:00. (LAUGH) So let's make sure everyone we know votes. Let's keep textin', let's keep callin' folks, knockin' on the doors of neighbors and your family members.
Reid: After the rally, Kamala and her husband Doug Emhoff traveled to Delaware to watch the results with the Bidens. The night did not start off happily for the Biden-Harris ticket. First Trump won Florida decisively, more decisively than had been expected, and then Ohio.
Archival Recording: Yeah, we got a big number here. NBC News is projecting Ohio will go in Trump column when all the votes are counted.
Reid: Before the election, the polls had the Biden-Harris team way ahead. Now they were behind in almost every battleground state, leaving some wondering, "Would this be 2016 all over again?" But inside the campaign they were calm. They always had three goals: flip back Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. That's it: Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania. For the Biden team, everything else was gravy.
Joe Biden: But look, we feel good about where we are. (APPLAUSE) We really do. (HORNS) I'm here to tell you tonight we believe we're on track to win this election. (APPLAUSE)
Reid: Election night turned into election week, and gradually the tide shifted.
Biden: Here the people rule. Power can't be taken or asserted. It flows from the people. It is their will that determines who will be the president of the United States and their will alone. And now after a long night of counting, it's clear that we're winning enough states to reach 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.
Reid: Then on Thursday, Pennsylvania tipped blue. Then Georgia, a state that hadn't gone blue since the 1992 presidential election, a turning point. Then Saturday, Kamala Harris took a jog with her husband near Biden campaign headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware. In the middle of her job, the networks called the election, and Kamala made a call of her own.
Harris: We did it. We did it, Joe. You're gonna be the next president of the United States. (LAUGH)
Reid: A lot of people had worked hard for this result, but perhaps no one more than Black women.
Tiffany Cross: When we have just elected the first Black, Asian American woman in this country and vice president. So it also matters who's leading these conversations.
Reid: That's Tiffany Cross, author of Say It Louder! Black Voters, White Narratives and Saving Our Democracy.
Cross: Then we have to make sure that not only are we censoring the lies in the majority of this country, the new American electorate who will decide races, but also holding this administration accountable. Because we saw record number of Black voters.
Reid: And the woman who had so many firsts under her belt has won her biggest first of all, vice president of the United States.
Harris: (APPLAUSE) But while I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last. (CHEERING)
Lizzo (singing): Go. Woke up feelin' like I just might run for President. Even if there ain't no precedent.
Reid: From MSNBC and Wondery, I'm Joy Reid. And this is Kamala: Next in Line.
Lizzo (singing): (IN PROGRESS) I'ma do it like a girl, like a girl, like a girl, oh, yeah.
Reid: This is episode seven, Not The Last. We witnessed history being made with the election of Kamala Harris as vice president of the United States.
Harris: For four years, you marched and organized for equality and justice, for our lives, and for our planet. And then you voted. (CHEERING) And you delivered a clear message. You chose hope and unity, decency, science, and yes, truth. (CHEERING) You chose Joe Biden as the next president of the United States. (CHEERING)
Reid: Come January, the Biden-Harris administration will be in the White House where they'll have to make good on their campaign promises. And we'll soon find out with Vice President Kamala Harris is all about. But already there are a number of questions surrounding Kamala Harris and the role she will play in a Biden administration.
In an extremely partisan Washington D.C. will the administration be successful? And how will this administration be held accountable by the Black predominantly women voters who propelled them to office? Joining me today to answer these questions is Pulitzer Prize winner, opinion writer for the Washington Post and an MSBNBC contributor, Jonathan Capehart; editor at large at The 19th, and MSNBC contributor, Errin haines; and Pulitzer Price and Emmy Award winner, MSNBC correspondent, and host of Into America, Trymaine Lee. Thank you guys all for joining.
Trymaine Lee: Thank you.
Jonathan Capehart: Thanks.
Errin Haines: Thanks for havin' us.
Reid: So it's great to talk to all of you. And this is a subject that all three of you know so well. So I'm gonna start with Jonathan who I think is the "Oh gee, Kamala," (LAUGH) sort of, you know, journalistic whisperer. You've interviewed her so many times. Can you talk about, you know, what you think that she brought to this ticket beast on all of the things that she's gone through in her life and career?
Capehart: Well, I think what Senator Harris, now Vice President-elect Harris brought to the ticket was energy, strength, experience, next generation, and emerging American demographics. But even more important, running twice state-wide in California, to be the attorney of California, and then to run for the U.S. Senate, that was a proving ground.
And then you put on top of that the fact that she ran her own presidential campaign. And even the swipe she took at Joe Biden at that debate in June, I think, all gave her the experience that was necessary to be on the ticket and to run with the eventual nominee, just given the experience that she had.
And also as we've seen on the campaign trail and, you know, we've all covered her and have seen her, she is just a down-home, real person. It doesn't always come through on television. It doesn't always come through in those scripted moments.
Where you see it is where it's most important on the campaign trail, and that's with real people. When she's out on the trail talking to voters, and especially when she is face-to-face with a young person, and particularly young children of color or young girls. And just the way her whole, everything about her.
If you want to understand Kamala Harris, just look at pictures of her with young children or watch a video of her interacting with them. And that will tell you everything you need to know about who she is and why she was such a dynamic presence and a real power on that ticket.
Reid: And, you know, Errin, you got the first official interview with Kamala Harris as the vice presidential nominee for The 19th. So congratulations on that. What did she see as her value to the ticket? And what were her goals out on the campaign trail?
Haines: Well, you know, her lived experience as a woman of color in this country and somebody who had been a trailblazer I think really proved to be quite an asset to the ticket with Joe Biden, energizing her, particularly with the vanguard of the Democratic Party.
I'm talking of course about Black women who, you know, told me repeatedly over the course of the 2020 election cycle that they wanted to be valued not just for their output, but for their input. They wanted a seat and a voice at the table. And a Black woman in, you know, leadership at the highest levels was something that they felt would translate into a return on their investment, that investment being their voting, organizing, donating, and volunteer power, even in the midst of a pandemic.
And so, you know, I think that, you know, even as Kamala Harris exited the presidential primary in December before even one ballot was cast, she returned to the Senate and raised awareness as the lone Black woman in the Senate around the inequity and the disparities that the pandemic has laid bare in this country.
But, you know, regardless of the shifting criteria in this campaign, whether it was voter enthusiasm, whether it was ability to raise money, whether it was ability to do the job on day one around the dual pandemics of systematic racism and coronavirus, Madam Vice President-elect Harris is somebody that checked all the boxes consistently.
Reid: And we will of course recall that there were multiple efforts to really pressure the Biden ticket and Joe Biden himself to pick a Black woman as his VP. I think a lot of those people are very happy with Kamala Harris, whether it was the Melanie Campbell, that letter with, like, 100 women.
There were Black men who wrote letters. And of course the Washington Post letter with video from six very prominent Black women in media. Trymaine, one of the things that caused African Americans to really make that pressure campaign, there were two things I think.
You know, there was Kamala Harris herself, Senator Harris, who in that Georgia debate made very clear that Black women have sowed seeds into the Democratic Party they haven't always gotten back. But, you know, there was also the concern that a lot of people around Joe Biden had that she had taken him on when it came to race in one of those debates, that classic moment, when she called him out on race and on segregation. What do you think it says about Joe Biden that he looked past those criticisms of the party and of himself and picked here anyway?
Lee: You know, I think this is really about legacy, right, and hinged to Joe Biden's legacy is the '94 Crime Bill, right. I think there's no mistake about that. For those of us old enough to remember, our communities, our families, ravaged quite frankly and destroyed.
And so with Joe Biden's legacy, you know, hanging in the balance, I think he is an older man. I think he takes pride in being the VP to the first Black president. And the opportunity to appoint Kamala Harris, to break through that glass ceiling, right, and have a Black woman by his side, not only sending the signal to Black folks.
Saying, "I am hearing you, right. I am listening. I value you." But also he's thinking about his legacy here. Just recently when Joe Biden talked about Donald Trump's refusal to concede and said, "You know, history might not look too kindly on his legacy. They'll remember this moment."
It's not lost on him at all. I think he wants to be seen as someone who can push the ball forward. You know, he's whole campaign was about restoring the soul of America, the soul of the nation. And James Claiborne called him a good man, right, in South Carolina. He said, "Unlike what we're seeing now, he's a good man who understands us." And I think he wants to show that indeed he is a good man.
Reid: Errin, are there particular cities, particular places where you can say picking Kamala Harris, having a Black woman on the ticket, actually made a difference in the vote?
Haines: Yeah, I mean, I think a lot of the cities that she went to down the stretch. You know, after Labor Day when the general election really kicked into high gear, I'm thinkin' about Philadelphia. I'm thinkin' about Atlanta. I'm thinkin' about, you know, South Florida. I'm thinkin' about Milwaukee, thinkin' about Detroit.
You know, she was on the ground meeting with Black women and Black men and young people in those communities to hear directly from them about what their issues are particularly in the midst of this pandemic, in the wake of the national reckoning on race about what their governing priorities were.
And so, you know, for her to show up on the ground, you know, as a Black woman to say, you know, "That I hear you. That what you're saying is something that I can relate to. That these are familiar stories because of my lived experience," I think was very powerful and persuasive for a lot of those voters, particularly folks in communities that had not previously felt seen and heard by the Democratic Party, and maybe even by this campaign prior to her joining the ticket.
And so I think that she was definitely an asset to the campaign, to the ticket, down the stretch. Usually we don't think of vice presidential nominees as, you know, somebody who's, like, a make or break, right. Like, usually their job is do no harm.
But I think, I mean, the role of, you know, Joe Biden's vice presidential pick, it was outsized this year. Given the Herculean task, not only to, you know, oust Donald Trump which was the priority of a lot of Black voters and Democrats in general this cycle, but also just in terms of what they are coming into, what they will inherit when they take office on January 20th.
Reid: You know, and Trymaine, to that very point. The data shows that Black voters really turned out for Joe Biden and really made the difference for him in some key states including for flipping Georgia for the first time since, you know, more than 20, 30 years, to flipping it to be blue, and of course also in places like Pennsylvania, and places like Wisconsin and Michigan.
You said in your podcast that there were communities in Pennsylvania specifically where there was 100% turnout. And you said it was not just the turnout, it was blood, sweat, and tears from the Black community. Can you walk us through that a little bit?
Lee: That's right. Often times even disconnected from the party machines, you have people all across this country like our, you know, LaTosha Brown and Black Voters Matters, and so many other activists and organizers whose names we will never know, going to places that the machine simply won't go, won't have the wherewithal to go, don't care to go, even take for granted in some ways.
You think about Aliquippa, you know, County (SIC) in Pennsylvania, right, and these communities outside of Philadelphia, outside of Harrisburg, outside of Pittsburgh, where there are these pockets of Black folks who simply have never been courted, right.
So you have voters there who have a clear stake in the process. But no one has ever had the wherewithal to go. And so we talked to a woman named Brittany Smalls who is an organizer for, you know, Black Voters Matter. And she said, "You know, we went to these places in the heart of deep red rural, what they call Up South."
"You get outside of Philly, it starts lookin' real country out there, (LAUGH) real concerning out there. And went to these places, and we saw it in Pennsylvania. We saw it in Georgia." And so it's not just out of some loyalty, you know, or fealty for Joe Biden or the Democratic Party.
It's a result of all the work that organizers did on the ground. You know, credible messengers, Black folks, Black women, Black men, who went to these communities and did a little bit of a spiel in terms of political education, but also reminding them, it's not even just necessarily about the president.
It's about what's happenin' with your sheriff. It's about your DA. It's about your state legislators, right. And it seems to have worked. But you have to go to the places. You have to shake their hands. And that's something that's been lost in all of this.
Even if you're puttin' money into targeting folks on social media, there are people who don't have access to the internet still, (LAUGH) right, who still have real concerns. There are people who aren't openin' up the fliers and the mailers, but they still have real concerns. You need to knock on those doors and walk up on those doorsteps. And it seems to have worked.
Reid: And to stay with you for a just minute, Trymaine. What do these voters and what were they telling you on the campaign trail that they want to see different? What do they want to see? Or what do you think will change having Kamala Harris, you know, there and in power beside Joe Biden?
Lee: Well, one is, like, a more humane approach. The last four years have been violent in so many ways, right. We've seen the actual blood shed. But the violent rhetoric, right, the abstract violence of the dissolving of protections and regulations. And just this carefree racism, the emboldening of racism.
So a return to something a little more humane. And so in some ways it says more about America or politics than it does about Kamala Harris. But to have her there, when you think about COVID-19. One in 1,000 Black folks dying from this disease, and the numbers are still rising right now.
To have a Black woman in a position of power, to push to ball forward, and to address these communities as opposed to, "It's just the flu." And Kamala Harris took some heat for her role as, you know, Kamala the Cop, right.
But understanding the system, right, and having a shift of a view now from where she sits now, I think Black folks and Black voters are hopeful. Hopeful, again, we've been let down and failed before by people we care (LAUGH) about and we love. But I think there is hope that Kamala will be everything or at least some of what people hope she'll be.
Reid: You know, and Jonathan, during his victory speech, Joe Biden said directly to the Black community, he spoke directly to Black voters. And he said, "You've always had my back. And I'll have yours." That was a direct message to Black voters. It was something unusual for a politician to do. I'm not sure that Barack Obama ever did it that directly.
Capehart: (LAUGH) Yes. Yes, actually that's probably true. But, you know, when it comes to Joe Biden, one thing we know about President-elect Biden, he's a very sentimental person. He never forgets. And never forgets in a good way. He hasn't forgotten who saved him, who saved his campaign in South Carolina during the Democratic primaries, who saved his campaign during the Super Tuesday contest that came after that.
So, you know, Joe Biden is someone who is grateful. He's so human in that way. He is grateful for the support he's gotten. Joe Biden will not forget what African Americans did for him to make him the 46th president of the United States.
What I was hearing from people is that they wanted that person to earn the spot, that they should be there because they were qualified, which made me roll my (LAUGH) eyes. Because all of the Black women who were being considered were qualified. But the fact that Kamala Harris was chosen, that argument that, "Oh, well, she was just chosen because she's Black," dissolved once people focused in on, "Well, why she chosen?"
She was the attorney general of California. She ran state-wide. She ran for president. She showed on the campaign trail that not only did she want to vie for the nomination, but she wasn't afraid to throw a punch in order to show people she was willing to fight for the job.
And to come back to your original question about Joe Biden and his talking about reminding people that he did not forget and hasn't forgotten and will not forget about the people who sent him, and sent them, to the White House, in that debate, Kamala Harris showed Joe Biden.
And because Joe Biden is an old-school politician, he's not afraid of punches being thrown. Sure, he was stung. We all watched it with our own eyes. But what it told him was, "She's serious. She's for real. She's tough. And she is the kind of person who if I get the nomination, now that I have the nomination, she's the person I want to be with me in battle when we win the White House and when we're gonna have to go up against this Republican Party."
Reid: A lot of it is about her mom. And her mom, of course, was an immigrant to this country from India. Her dad was an immigrant from Jamaica. But her mom is, like, a big part of her narrative when she tells her own story. And we saw a lot of Southeast Asian women also joyful.
I've talked to Indian American women who were just as jubilant as Black women are about the election of the Kamala Harris ticket. How do you think that her elevation to this highest spot that we've ever seen a woman of color ever achieve in this country, how does that impact women more broadly, do you think?
Haines: Again, representation matters. You know, you have Indian American women feeling a tremendous sense of pride in this moment. Madame Vice President-elect Harris did give a nod to her mother Shyamala from the acceptance speech stage, noting that, you know, her mom probably could not have imagined that her daughter would have been standing in that position, but came to this country seeing its promise and seeing its possibility for herself and then for her daughters.
And so we have to think of and Kamala Harris called by name the Black suffragists who made our access to the franchise possible. Fannie Lou Hamer, Mary Church Terrell, Mary McLeod Bethune, Ida B. Wells, you know, Ella Baker, these women on whose shoulders she stood. She acknowledged them even as President-elect Biden acknowledged that Black people were the ones who got him to this moment in history for him.
And let me just say one word on Joe Biden's relationship to the Black community. This is something that extended far beyond the South Carolina primary. It extended beyond this election. Joe Biden has a half a century relationship with Black folks.
Delaware is the eighth most popular state for Black people in this country. He does not have a career in politics if it is not for Black people, period. Not just this year, but his whole career. He understands and he has had a relationship. And he has had to campaign to Black folks.
And so I think his acknowledgment of that was not just about this election, but I think the contribution that Black people have made to his entire people and how he plans to translate that into governing with Kamala Harris obviously being the first signal of that.
But even as he is, you know, putting together this transition team, even as he is planning his administration, the Black women who are already factoring into that process I think is proof of his commitment to govern with Black folks in mind.
But, you know, Kamala Harris's quixotic 2020 Democratic presidential primary campaign is really just a case study of what it means to be a Black woman in American politics, right. Qualified and talented candidate, with a pioneering resumé, and yet a narrative that neither the press nor voters were familiar with.
Reid: And I think the other level of intersectionality that Kamala Harris is bringing to the table is also on her immigrant roots. I know that the Jamaicans in my life are gonna be unmanageable for the next four years because they are so thrilled that one of their own is there.
And I think that Kamala is somebody who's kind of, sort of everyone has a piece of her. Jonathan I'm gonna go to you on this. 'Cause I think you were actually talking to her for your podcast when she stopped to do a recipe for Indian food. And she did a full recipe and then got back on the phone with you. I think it was with you.
But either way, I think that she does understand her intersectional appeal in a really specific way because she lives it. But there's a lot more to it. I mean, her husband will the first male second spouse. He'll be the first Jewish American to be within the top four, first spouse, second spouse.
There's never been a Jewish American person in any of those spots, whether the spouse or the candidate. She might be the first stepmom. There's so many things that she's bringing to the table, not to mention the immigrant background and being a Black woman in politics. She's bringing a lot to the table.
Capehart: Yeah. Vice President-elect Harris is bringing a lot to the table. But I do want to correct one thing. It wasn't a recipe for Indian food. My husband Nick had asked me to ask Kamala for her advice on how to brine a turkey. And so during the commercial break, I asked her.
And she started talking. And I was like, "This is, like, a foreign language to me. Let me record this. And then I'll just send the memo to Nick." And it showed the real Kamala Harris. You know, high powered, intelligent, driven, but if you ask her for any kind of cooking advice, she's there. And she's ready.
And she will jump in no matter that she's got a minute to go before going live on television to make the case for her candidacy. She's ready to do it and wants to do it. But you raise all the good points about her intersectionality. And she brings all of those things to the table.
She doesn't try to hide any of them. She brings her full self. She talked about her, quote/unquote, "Late in life" marriage. She talked about her step children, but doesn't call Cole and Ella her step children. She calls them her children.
And she also talked about the fact that she is good friends with her husband's ex-wife and, you know, the relationship that they have. She lives a very real life that people can see, people can relate to. They look at her and they see her juggling all these things, juggling a career, but also juggling a family, and embracing her immigrant roots, all of her immigrant roots.
But also sort of messing with people by identifying as African American and forcing the country to have a conversation about identity. I don't know if Trymaine or Errin had this experience of watching our white colleagues in the press scratching their head. Wait, but she's not African American.
Lee: She's black. She's black.
Capehart: "But, but, but." (LAUGH) But how is that possible?" And it's like, "No, she is Black."
Haines: And also she contains multitudes, right. I mean, look.
Haines: Among the many communities that have latched onto Kamala Harris and the symbolism and the substance that she represents are going to be the HBCU community. Again, representation matters so much, and all of the ways in which she represents. I think about at the end of her presidential campaign, the cooking video she did with Mindy Kaling, right.
They're makin' Indian food, and she's reminiscing. And it's bringing back all these memories about her and her mother and cooking and her love of cooking and kind of where that comes from. I mean, the Indian community was thrilled to see that on display from this, again, Black woman, (LAUGH) you know, but who was raised with a sense of an awareness of her culture and everywhere that she came from. And I think that that is something that we are going to see her bringing into the White House and bringing into her role as the second most powerful person in the country.
Lee: And what it means to be Black in the diaspora, right.
Capehart: Uh-huh (AFFIRM).
Lee: And it's not where the boat, you know, dropped you off. It's where they picked you up, right. So her Jamaican (LAUGH) father. And we are (INAUDIBLE) of all these things, right. And so to have a Jamaican father and an Indian mother, that's not anything too out of the world, (LAUGH) the realm of possibility for us especially. We contain multitudes.
And I think I say this with all journalistic objectivity. She just fly, though. Like, (LAUGHTER) she's the VP-elect. Kamala Harris. That's the VP. And can I say that, you know, at arm's length, as a journalist, "Listen, she come out to Mary J. She on stage. And they met." And that's the funny thing, I forgot her name who wrote the column, her dancing is, (LAUGH), whatever they say.
Capehart: It was Peggy Noonan.
Haines: Peggy Noonan.
Lee: Come on now. You should be thankful for the privilege. (LAUGH) Come on now.
Reid: Let's talk about some of the expectations you have. I'll start with you, Trymaine. Because listen, this is gonna be a daunting presidency. Let's just be blunt. We have a pandemic that as of the day that we're recording has killed some 240,000 Americans. More than ten million Americans have been sick and disproportionately Black, brown and Indigenous folks.
It's killing people at a rate that is like a 9/11 a day. And it's devastating, particularly in some of the same places that the Kamala Harris and Joe Biden ticket, I should say the Joe Biden and Kamala Harris ticket, relied on to win. And they've got to now do something about that in the face of some often violent resistance to the basic things that we need to do to try save ourselves from this pandemic.
And still deal with issues like systematic racism. You still have police killings that are not abated by the pandemic. You have Joe Biden having promised to fix the Crime Bill, to amend it. He has promised that he would do something about making it less onerous on communities of color, particularly Black communities.
So he's got a lot on his plate, not to mention immigration, not to mention trying to reunite, you know, between 500 and 1,000 migrant kids with their parents. Talk about some setting of expectation levels and how that is working, particularly in Black communities that really need a lot of this stuff done.
Lee: So this is where it gets actually tough, right. So starting out with the fact that Trumpism isn't going anywhere, right. So Donald Trump leaves the White House, you're still gonna be engaging with the lingering remnants of what that means, right. People who see themselves as patriots and all the danger and violence that that could bring.
But we also more fundamentally have to look at the Democratic Party and who does the party want to be. And wrestling with does it, you know, retreat back to the center, right, and forget its true base. You know, will they actually re-imagine the party's actual base and not have, as Eddie Glaude told me the other day, this kind of fantasy of what a democratic voter looks like.
And he's in Youngstown, Ohio. And his granddaddy worked at the coal mine. And here he is, you know, when he had that good union job and all that stuff. Or do you look at the Black communities who in the face of very stubborn, political movement sometimes?
We've been failed time and time and time again. And as they say, "Can you rebuild master's house with his own tools?" Right, are we ready to engage with an actual re-shaping and re-imagining of our politics and what it means to be an American, let alone the idea of America?
But the actual work begins now because we have the end of one thing, and the beginning of something else. And how far are we willing to go as Americans? So in terms of this opportunity, I think there is more hope than there has been in four years. (LAUGH) There's more hope now.
And I think people believe in Kamala Harris, believe in Joe Biden. And I think they would do themselves a disservice. I talked to brothers who were organizing in strip clubs to get people out to vote, brothers who were formin' bike clubs to get out the vote, brothers and sisters who were goin' to places, meeting people where they actually are, not where we hope them to be, but where they are, all in pursuit of some idea of justice and the change that they believe a Kamala Harris and Joe Biden presidency could bring.
And so operating in the actual mechanics of the machine, America always is gonna be America. And so it's just (LAUGH) a matter of, you know, how far we stretch that. And so I'm not a cynic or a natural skeptic, but, you know, there's reconstruction and then there's redemption, right. So the concern is what we build how easily could be torn down.
Reid: Well, and you make that reconstruction to redemption analogy. And we recall that redemption was the violent end to reconstruction that came through the election of Rutherford B. Hayes in which Florida decided the election, and a compromise was made to let him be president and to take troops out of the South, which meant the end of the attempted liberation, the true liberation of the formerly enslaved.
So it was violent. It was where the Klan was born. That's American history. That's the way it normally looks. And it was relatively short, Jonathan, reconstruction, you know, particularly as it is compared to the amount of time and the number of centuries that Black folks were enslaved in this country.
And this administration, at least from what Joe Biden has indicated, will be four years. We're not looking at Joe Biden looking to run for re-election necessarily. He might change his mind. He might try to run again. But in the event that we're talking about four years to do all that people are hoping for with, you know, President-elect Biden having promised that he's gonna deliver real change, what can we really expect particularly when you're looking across the gallery at Mitch McConnell who has made it clear that he's not interested in allowing anything to change?
Capehart: Exactly. Because it's one thing to have goals and plans. It's another thing to have an opposition. And the opposition that the Biden-Harris administration is going to face is going to be formidable. Because they had eight years to sharpen their skills when President Obama and then Vice President Biden were in office.
And now what we're facing is a Senate that could be split even, 50/50, if the two Georgia run-off seats go to the Democrats, with Vice President Kamala Harris being the tie-breaking vote. Or we could have a situation where the Republicans win those Georgia seats, stay in those Georgia Senate seats, and Mitch McConnell is still Senate Majority Leader doing his level best to squelch any kind of momentum, any kind of success that a Biden-Harris administration would try to achieve.
Even if whatever legislation they propose is meant to help the American people, no matter where they live. And so that is what the Biden-Harris administration is facing. They're already facing it in the transition where the president won't concede. And you've got Republicans who are playing into the theater that they don't need to recognize the incoming administration.
But I do think that there is opportunity here. And I'm thinking of your question to Trymaine and Trymaine's response. You know, there's so much repair that needs to happen for America with the Biden-Harris administration, both at home and abroad. And I anticipate that President Biden will be spending a lot of time repairing America's relationship with the allies, repairing America's image abroad.
Which would then require Vice President Harris to focus domestically. Whether or not there's a 50/50 split in the Senate. If there's a 50/50 split in the Senate, she becomes infinitely more important. She's already important. But then she'll be infinitely more important.
To your point about, you know, the potential of President-elect Biden not running again in four years, it is gonna be vitally important that Vice President Harris have the power and the portfolio to be able to make the case to the American people that she should be entrusted with the Oval Office.
And I can't imagine Joe Biden who was President Obama's VP, and probably one of the most powerful vice presidents we've had in the nation's history. He wanted for himself what he gave to Barack Obama when they were in the White House. And so my anticipation is that Kamala Harris is going to be an incredibly powerful vice president.
She will be an empowered vice president. She will be a powerful and equal partner. But we're also going to have a powerful opposition that is going to do everything possible to insure that President Joe Biden doesn't have as many wins and successes as he would like. But also their long-term game to insure that there is no President Kamala Harris to succeed him.
Reid: Particularly since Donald Trump has made noises that he would like to be the candidate in 2024. And so that might be the next contest that we're talkin' about on podcasts and on TV. But Errin, you know, to the point that Jonathan just made, for the next two months while these battles are being hashed out and planned out and the, you know, Biden-Harris administration is preparing to take power, Kamala Harris will still be a United States Senator.
She'll be probably the most talked about, viewed, important, in many ways, United States Senator among the 100 there with lots of eyes on her. And so my final question is, "How do you expect her to use that power, knowing what she's bringing to the table as a former prosecutor, as somebody who's quite good on the dais questioning folks when there will more hearings and God knows what else is going be going on in Mitch McConnell's Senate during the lame duck?" What do you expect her to do with that power over the next two months?
Haines: Well, I think that again, as the lone Black woman in the Senate, she is somebody who has translated that symbolism into substance, attempting to hold her Republican counterparts accountable, continuing to raise issues around, you know, marginalized communities and people of color, and, you know, what they are looking for to be full participants in this democracy. And so even as she is focused on her transition to this historic role, I think that she will continue to be a fighter in the Senate until she vacates that seat.
Reid: Trymaine Lee, Jonathan Capehart, Errin Haines, thank you for that great discussion. Really appreciate all of you.
Lee: Thank you.
Capehart: Thanks, Joy.
Haines: Thank you.
Reid: That was Pulitzer Prize winner, opinion writer for the Washington Post and an MSNBC contributor, Jonathan Capehart; editor at large of The 19th and MSNBC contributor, Errin Haines; as well as Pulitzer Prize and Emmy Award winner, MSNBC correspondent and host of Into America, Trymaine Lee.
From MSNBC and Wondery, this is episode seven of Kamala: Next in Line. This is a serious about the making of Kamala Harris. If you want to help us spread the word, please give us a five star rating and a review on Apple Podcasts. And be sure to tell your friends.
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I'm your host Joy Reid. Associate producers are Chris Seigel and Allison Bailey. Production and research help from Carrie Dann and Julie Tsirkin. Production assistance from Hank Butler. Music supervisor Scott Velasquez. Managing producer Lata Pandya. Sound design by Lindsay Graham with assistance from Derek Behrens. Executive produced for MSNBC by Soraya Gage, executive produced by George Lavender, Marshall Lewy, and Hernan Lopez for Wondery.