At the Democratic National Convention in August, Sen. Kamala Harris’s family members introduced her to voters in a short biographical video. Between vintage photo montages and campaign footage, Harris’s stepdaughter, Ella Emhoff, described the California senator as “a rock — not just for our dad but for three generations of our big, blended family.” Jill Biden, also a stepmother, got a similar treatment: “She put us back together,” presidential candidate Joe Biden said of his second wife, who married the widowed Biden and took on raising his two sons from a previous marriage. “She gave me back my life. She gave us back a family.”
This warm depiction of Harris’s and Biden’s respective roles in blended — and in the case of Harris, multiracial — families marks a radical shift in the presentation of kin in American politics, which has typically prized nuclear dynasties, like the Kennedys and the Bushes, over clans that actually represent many voters’ lived realities. Every day, Americans form 1,300 new blended families, bringing kids from previous relationships together into a new unit.