After one of the most tumultuous presidential elections in recent memory, the results are in: Joe Biden will be the 46th President of the United States. This is of course an achievement in itself, but Biden is a career politician who has spent nearly 50 years in D.C., so his nomination and the subsequent win was hardly the most groundbreaking. What’s more interesting, however, is the election of his Vice President-elect, Kamala Harris.
A little over a hundred years since women in the United States were granted the right to vote and Harris has made history on numerous fronts, becoming the first woman and Indian American to reach the White House, and only the second African American to do so. Keeping that in mind, Harris is indeed a win for progressive voters, but not without certain caveats.
Harris has been under fire for some decisions made during her career as both District Attorney of San Francisco and Attorney General of California, specifically pushing for “tough on crime” policies that fly in the face of her stance as a progressive reformer today. It is important to be critical of our government officials and hold them accountable for their policy decisions, and to call them out for their choices even if we support their platform. But the fact of the matter is that this is a win for women and people of color as a whole, and it should be recognized as such.
Hilary Clinton made history by becoming the first female major-party candidate for president in 2016. Looking back at the United States and its background, we can see just how notable that accomplishment was for Clinton then and for Harris now.
In the history of the United States, we have had three female candidates for Vice President of the United States, with Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, Sarah Palin in 2008 and Harris herself in 2020. In addition, all 90 former US Presidents and their running mates have consisted of white men except Native American Vice President Charles Curtis in 1924. Any way you view it, Harris has broken gender and ethnic barriers that have remained in place for centuries and that can not be overlooked.
I spoke with Kiana Green, a third-year animal science pre-veterinary student, to ask her opinion on this historic win for women.
“Having a woman as our new Vice President is wonderful, but having a West Indian woman is the most inspiring part. Vice President Harris has broken barriers and will continue to do so,” said Green. “Especially in a time of racial injustice finally coming to view and slowly being dealt with, her presence is enough to do wonders. With this being said, myself and other people who support her know she’s not perfect, and we will definitely hold her to her promises.”