Reason Roundup

Left, Right, and Center Respond to Joe Biden's Veep Pick, Kamala Harris

Plus: Portland eases restrictions on density, chain stores are fleeing Manhattan, and a QAnon believer is likely headed to Congress.


Sen. Kamala Harris's (D–Calif.) selection as Joe Biden's running mate is reverberating across the political landscape, provoking enthusiastic reactions from left, right, and center, and even knocking the coronavirus pandemic off the front page.

Many Democrats are cheering the selection while lots of Republicans waste no time trying to paint Harris as a dangerous radical. Actual radicals, meanwhile, are either making their peace with Harris or re-upping their criticism of her as a phony progressive.

Former President Barack Obama praised the decision, describing Harris in a statement as someone who was "more than prepared for the job" of vice president, and a person "whose focus goes beyond self-interest to consider the lives and prospects of others."

Several of Harris' former primary candidates weighed in with messages of support.

President Donald Trump meanwhile offered some backhanded praise of Harris as his "number one draft pick" in a news conference last night while attacking her as an extremist.

"She's very big into raising taxes. She wants to slash funds for our military at a level that no one can even believe, she's against fracking, she's against petroleum products," said Trump. "How do you do that and go into Pennsylvania or Ohio or Oklahoma or the great state of Texas?"

The Trump campaign also released a 30-second attack ad criticizing Harris's embrace of Medicare for All and tax increases. The ad also points out that Harris had attacked Biden during the primaries for supporting "racist policies." The California senator had criticized Biden during the primary debates for opposing busing and for praising segregationist senators earlier in his career.

In a sign of coverage to come, CNN has already deemed Trump's more personal attacks on Harris—who he called "nasty," the "meanest," "most horrible," and "disrespectful" of Biden—as playing "into racist and sexist stereotypes of black women."

Several days prior, the progressive group We Have Her Back circulated a letter to major news organizations demanding they "actively work to be anti-racist and anti-sexist" in their coverage of a female, minority vice presidential candidate.

Conservatives have spared no criticism of Harris following her selection, attacking her for her authoritarian impulses, abuse of power, embrace of cancel culture, and anti-Catholic bigotry.

On the left-wing fringes of the Democratic Party, the reaction to Harris was a bit more mixed. Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I–Vt.) former press secretary Briahna Joy Gray accused Biden and the Democratic Party of showing "contempt for the base" by choosing a "top cop" like Harris.

Waleed Shahid, a spokesperson for the progressive political action committee, Justice Democrats, was more sanguine, saying that Harris was a non-ideological figure whose drift to the left showed the growing power of the Democrats' progressive faction.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D–Hawaii), who delivered a devastating debate stage takedown of Harris' criminal justice record last year, has so far issued no comment on Harris' selection. What more could she say?


Today, Portland City Council is expected to pass a major update of its zoning code that would ease restrictions on density, permit multifamily housing citywide, and allow homeowners to add up to two accessory dwelling units (sometimes known as granny flats or in-law suites) on their property.

The Seattle-headquartered think tank Sightline Institute has called the changes "the most pro-housing reform to low-density zones in US history."

There's a lot to like in Portland's reforms, including the legalization of four-unit homes on residential lots citywide, and the elimination of parking requirements in most places. However, they also come with a number of regulations that will be unpalatable to libertarians.

The maximum allowed size of houses has been shrunk, for instance, in an attempt to prevent the construction of "McMansions." Developers will be allowed to build larger buildings with more units, but only if they include rent-restricted units. Similar inclusionary zoning policies have been shown to increase overall housing costs.

The Portland metro area's urban growth boundary, which limits development on the urban fringe, also remains untouched.


  • Retail chains are getting the hell out of Manhattan, reports The New York Times.
  • Rep. Ilhan Omar (D–Minn.) won her primary yesterday, meaning the "squad" member will likely be returning to Congress.
  • The U.K.'s economy shrank more this year than any other rich country, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • QAnon supporter Marjorie Taylor Greene has won the Republican primary for a U.S. House seat in Georgia. Given the solid red nature of the district, Greene is likely to sweep the general election as well.
  • Hong Kong media mogul and pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai has been released from jail. He was arrested under the semi-autonomous territory's new China-imposed national security law earlier this week.
  • Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best announced she is resigning in response to cuts made by the Seattle City Council to the police department's budget.