The doubts hovering over the “Kamala option”

The interview recently released by Kamala Harris to the Wall Street Journal. The number two in the White House has in fact stated that she “is ready to serve” as president. Words that were spoken just two days before the special prosecutor's report was published, Robert Hur: report in which significant memory problems were highlighted by Joe Biden. Upon closer inspection, it is not the first time that the Harris is expressed in these terms. Last September, he had in fact told the CBS that she is ready to become president, “if necessary”.

Let's first analyze the issue from a technical point of view. Presidential succession is governed by the Twenty-fifth Amendment, which was ratified in 1967. The first section reads as follows: “Upon the removal of the President from office, or upon his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.” It goes without saying that such a device would be triggered in this case Biden decided to take a step back and resign from office. A scenario that cannot be completely ruled out, but to which the current occupant of the White House does not seem at all inclined. So far, the only case of a president resigning dates back to 1974, when Richard Nixon he gave way to his deputy, Gerald Fordas a result of the Watergate scandal.

A second scenario concerns the fourth section of the Twenty-fifth Amendment, according to which the president can be removed if considered incapable of carrying out his role. Not surprisingly, following the report by Hurray, some Republican lawmakers have asked the Justice Department to consider such an option. Yet this is a very unlikely scenario. First of all, the majority of ministers should move. Secondly, in the event of opposition by the president, the ball would pass to Congress which, to achieve a possible dismissal, would require a quorum of two-thirds of the votes. It is therefore a long and bumpy path, which would risk splitting the Democratic Party even further.

The third scenario is that the current president, while not resigning from office, announces that he is abandoning the race for re-election. In that case, the word would belong to Conventions national team in August and there would be no automatic mechanism in favor of Harris. The vice president would certainly enter the running to obtain the nominations dem. However, she would have no right of precedence over other potential candidates and it remains to be demonstrated that the majority of delegates would choose to tack on her. In fact, let's not forget that the Harris continues to be a highly unpopular figure: according to the site FiveThirtyEightthe disapproval rate of the current number two in the White House would be higher than 53%.

Furthermore, it is no mystery that the Harris it disappointed the expectations of many. In your role as vice president you were basically impalpable. Furthermore, in March 2021, Biden had tasked her with tackling the migratory crisis at the southern border, trying to defuse it through diplomatic channels together with the Central American countries: an objective which the person concerned was unable to achieve. Not only that, below Biden, we have witnessed a historic record of arrivals of irregular immigrants at the border with Mexico, but the United States has also progressively lost influence over Latin America. That's why, if one were to occur Conventions open, it is not at all obvious that the delegates would automatically focus on the Harris. At least in theory, it is more likely that other figures would emerge: starting from the governor of California, Gavin Newsomwho – a year ago – received words of appreciation from the former councilor of Barack Obama, David Axelrod.

And in the end the problem remains. If everything were to be decided at the Conventions (as happened in the past), this could turn into an electoral boomerang. It is true that the majority of Dem voters today would like a candidate other than Biden. But it remains to be demonstrated that, in this case, he would appreciate an assignment of the nominations that bypassed the primaries. From this point of view, the (partial) precedent of 1968 could prove to be a disturbing warning: that year, the then vice-president, Hubert Humphreyobtained the nominations dem without going through the primaries and was subsequently defeated by Nixon to the presidential elections. In short, the Democratic Party could find itself faced with a dilemma with no way out. And the “Kamala option” risks only making the situation worse.