Hello. Welcome to On Politics, your guide to the day in national politics. I am Lisa Lerer, your hostess.
Sign up here to receive On Politics in your inbox every weekday.
When Joe Biden's campaign announced on Tuesday that Senator Kamala Harris would be his runner-up, Republicans were ready.
"Kamala Harris' extreme positions," said Ronna McDaniel, chairman of the Republican National Committee, "show that the left mob controls Biden's candidacy, just as they would control him as president."
She added, "These radical policies may be popular with liberals, but for most Americans they are way outside the mainstream."
Five hours later, the party committee offered Ms. Harris a different point of view and blew up a collection of tweets from progressive Democrats criticizing Ms. Harris as insufficiently liberal. The subject line: "Liberals Revolt Against Biden, Harris Ticket."
In the past 24 hours, Trump officials, party committees and campaign surrogates have moved between labeling Ms. Harris as "radical liberal" and a Wall Street henchman. In his monologue on Tuesday night, Fox News host Tucker Carlson described her as "the top-selling person in America".
Ms. Harris is both a criminal police officer and a left wing Marxist. She buries her record in order to appease the Liberal Democrats and at the same time foment an intra-party war by disappointing the party's progressive wing.
How do Republicans reconcile these seemingly conflicting ideas? Well, it's all a secret plan by the Liberals! The Democratic Ticket is a Trojan horse for liberals to unleash their agenda, if you will.
According to Republicans, neither Mr Biden nor Mr Harris are liberals themselves, but they are the means to push a radical left agenda because it is "wrong" and it is "slow".
Not exactly an argument that fits on a bumper sticker.
An even bigger complication with all of those spaghetti-on-the-wall messages? The fact that Mr. Trump and his daughter Ivanka contributed $ 8,000 to Ms. Harris' campaign for the Attorney General in 2014. (There have also been many deeply personal, sexist, and racial attacks in Trump orbit.)
What exactly is this democratic ticket?
On her first public appearance with Mr. Biden as his runmate this afternoon, Ms. Harris described the two as "cut from the same cloth."
They are more pragmatic than ideological. They are deeply ingrained in establishment party politics. It is the amalgamation of two political brands with convincing biographies, but without a clear, defining cause.
Ms. Harris is certainly farther to the left of Mr. Biden and is pursuing more aggressive measures to combat climate change, the coronavirus pandemic and health care. However, it lacks the central focus that arises from Senator Elizabeth Warren's wealth tax or Senator Bernie Sanders' demands for political revolution. Instead, Ms. Harris takes a more pragmatic approach and shies away from the intensely ideological.
"I'm not trying to restructure society," Ms. Harris told the New York Times last year. "I'm just trying to deal with the issues that wake people up in the middle of the night."
This profile frustrates some progressive Democrats with far-reaching visions of reshaping the American economy. And it certainly complicates the argument for Mr. Trump, who appears to be eager to view his opponents as godless socialists with a radical agenda – whether the cartoon actually fits or not.
But it does reflect the kind of ticket a majority of Democratic primary voters seemed to want. Sure, they didn't rally behind Ms. Harris' offer for the presidency. But when they backed Mr Biden over a bevy of more liberal rivals, several Democrats made it clear that they wanted a moderate candidate for the establishment.
Throughout the main race, I often heard Democrats longing to praise the virtues of a Biden Harris ticket. The comments were made by voters at Biden events. At Harris events. Quite at events for other candidates.
The reasoning seemed to have been hatched in a cable news greenroom.
In general, it went something like this: America was not ready to choose a woman, especially a black woman. Mr. Biden is a less risky choice. But he's old. Generational change is required for the Washington party, the country. The answer: Biden-Harris.
Now we will finally see if the panditocracy can predict better than the pros.
We want to hear from our readers. Have a question? We will try to answer that. Do you have a comment? We are all ears. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What Harris means to the economy
My colleague Jim Tankersley has published a new book, "The Riches of This Land," which describes the decline of the American middle class. He was generous enough to share his thoughts on Mrs. Harris – and what her choices say about our economic policies.
Much of the public comment on Ms. Harris' selection has centered on her political breakthrough in becoming the first black and Indian-American woman to win a presidential ticket to a major party in the US. But let us also pause to consider the economic importance of Mrs Harris' background.
She and her parents illustrate various and important aspects of the progress that raised the American middle class – and they can again.
In my new book, The Wealth of This Land: The Untold, True History of the American Middle Class, I show how the increasing opportunities for women of all races, men of skin color, and immigrants fueled the great post World War II boom. The economy grew faster and millions of people entered the middle class because these workers broke the locks that had excluded them from jobs that were long dominated by white men.
Ms. Harris has pulled down several political professional doors in her career; She was the first black woman to be elected as a California attorney. The economy would benefit if more of these doors fell, giving talented women the same opportunities as white men.
Research also tells us that the economy would work better for everyone if America attracted more educated immigrants like Ms. Harris' parents – a cancer researcher from India and an economist from Jamaica. Economists have found that immigrant inventors increase entrepreneurship in the counties where they settle. In 2016, the National Academies of Science, Technology, and Medicine concluded that "the prospects for long-term economic growth in the United States would be severely tarnished without the contributions of highly skilled immigrants."
Ms. Harris' background is unique to a vice presidential candidate. But it is also a uniquely good example of the forces that helped build the great American middle class.
There are so many ways to pronounce Kamala. The right thing? COMMA-la.
Thank you for reading. On Politics is your guide to the political news cycle, bringing clarity out of the chaos.
On Politics is also available as a newsletter. Sign up here to have it delivered to your inbox.
Is there anything you think we are missing? Do you want to see more? We'd love to hear from you. Email us at email@example.com.