Will Joe Biden's historic choice for VP inspire the youth vote?

Posted at 8:38 AM, Aug 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-23 14:29:32-04

MILWAUKEE — Joe Biden's historic choice for a running mate has changed the political landscape by picking a woman of color, a first for any major party.

Senator Kamala Harris dropped out of the crowded Democratic presidential race but she has a long list of firsts in her career. The first elected black female District Attorney in California, first female state's Attorney General, and first Indian- American U.S. Senator.

"Senator Harris will bring a sensitivity to the racial problems that continue to plague this country," said Sherlean Roberts, who heard the news on a Facebook post.

Roberts is one of four First Vote students TMJ4 is following during the 2020 Presidential Election.

"I think that her being a third woman to be a running mate and the first person of color is important," said Alan Angulo, another First Vote participant. "It signals diversity within political power but sometimes I think that people use that as a reason to vote when it should not be the main reason."

Angulo and Roberts both live in Milwaukee and are preparing for their freshmen year at Marquette University.

Riley McAdams is also headed to Marquette after graduating from Wauwatosa West.

She heard about Harris joining the Biden ticket on Politico.

"Adding her name to the ballot might slightly affect young voter turn out because having a woman of color gives many hope for the future," said McAdams.

Slinger High School graduate Hunter Acton doesn't see Harris adding much to the Democrats' chances of beating President Trump.

"A running mate should be chosen based on credentials," said Acton. "Not by identity politics and trying to manipulate the emotions and opinions of the Black community by choosing a Black woman."

But Roberts, who is Black, likes Harris' story.

"I know she is potentially a person who could relate to me and the African-American struggles," said Roberts.

Black Lives Matters protests in Milwaukee and around the country have dominated headlines and calls for police reform in the wake of George Floyd's death.

As a senator, Harris has said "It is status-quo thinking to believe that putting more police on the streets creates more safety. That's wrong. It's just wrong."

Yet, in 2009 she wrote: "If we take a show of hands of those who would like to see more police officers on the street, mine would shoot up," adding that "virtually all law-abiding citizens feel safer when they see officers walking a beat."

But McAdams says Harris' record on reform has produced mixed results.

"Her record from her past as an Attorney General and a prosecutor is contradictory to her current claims to being progressive on criminal justice and wanting police reform," said McAdams.

Harris is 55-years-old and Biden will be 78 in November. 18-year Angula doesn't think either will inspire the youth vote.

"She does nothing for the youth vote," said Angulo. "Youth will be more attracted to [Andrew] Yang and Bernie [Sanders].

TMJ4 will check back regularly with our first voters as Election Day 2020 approaches in battleground Wisconsin.

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