With former Vice President Joe Biden now the last person standing out of the historically large and diverse Democratic primary field, it’s time to seriously start thinking about who his vice president should be.
Anyone who is vaguely familiar with out lesbian Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot probably knows that she would be a strong vice presidential candidate. She has it all. She’s a woman. She’s racially diverse. She’s from the Midwest. And to top it all off, she’s competent. But with all that being said, anyone who is more intimately familiar with her probably knows that she is also the worst possible choice for a completely different, and perhaps surprising, reason.
For those who aren’t familiar with Lightfoot, she assumed the mayorship of Chicago last May. Since then, she has steadied the city following Rahm Emanuel’s rather rocky tenure.
Some people out there might think that given the COVID-19 pandemic that it’s premature to start mulling who might compliment Biden and potentially sure up some of his weaknesses, but a refusal to seriously take a hard look at the choices out there is dangerous. The belligerent and scientifically unproven blabbering that is currently being spewed out of the White House shows us that now more than ever is the time that we should be scrutinizing our leaders and potential leaders.
While there’s no denying that Biden did an admirable job as vice president, there were times when he faltered. The most painful of which were when his personal gaffs took away from the serious work that President Barack Obama was doing. Lightfoot, like Obama, is a workhorse of a politician. Not prone to rhetorical mistakes and awkward personal interactions, she has a history of getting things done that stretches back to her days as an assistant United States attorney. Surely, someone with a track record of providing reasoned governance like Lightfoot will be able to temper some of the rougher edges that make “Uncle Joe” seem so authentic.
Many of the people who have floated California Sen. Kamala Harris as a potential vice presidential pick have stressed her strength as a candidate because of her past as a prosecutor. She will be able to prosecute the case against Trump, they say. So too can Lightfoot, but without the baggage. Unlike Harris, she didn’t attempt a clumsy prosecution of Biden’s track record regarding civil right.
For those who are still unconvinced, take a look at her swift response to COVID-19. When the data coming out of her city showed that African Americans were dying from the virus at higher rates than other communities, she and the city went to work to mitigate the risk of exposure by running bigger buses, the primary source of transportation for communities of color, to allow for more social distancing. Importantly, she also ordered providers to start gathering complete demographic data from patients in order to better understand just how significantly the virus is impacting African Americans.
Now up until this point, I’ve only discussed why I believe Lightfoot is the obvious choice for Biden, but there is one significant reason why she should ultimately not be selected… Chicago needs her too much.
Like I mentioned, she has only been mayor for just shy of a year now. She’s still settling in and making her mark on the city. If she were to become vice president, she would no longer be around to oversee all of the new and vitally important initiatives she has launched while in office.
Although the country needs Lightfoot, a steady hand who will guide us through the uncertain times that we’re facing, so too does Chicago. While she might not be the right choice at this time, someone like Lightfoot certainly is.
With all of the uncertainty at the moment, one has to wonder when Biden’s choice will be announced. Surely, the traditional announcement at the Democratic National Convention in August will be too late. If he goes ahead and announces a candidate like Lightfoot as his vice presidential pick now, the country will be assured that it will once again be in competent hands if it can just hold on another nine months.
Aila Alvina Boyd is a writer, educator, and award-winning journalist. She holds an MFA in Writing from Lindenwood University.