POLITICS | FALL ’20
KAMALA, THAT’S PERIOD.
by ALEXANDER JACKSON MAIER-DLAMINI
It was obvious from the reactions on the part of the Vice President that he wasn’t used to being spoken to in an equal manner by a black woman, despite her credentials as a U.S. Senator. That’s a good thing. The entire nation, from our eligible voters to the children making the next generation of America’s voters, was forced to respect the black VP candidate. She set a shining example for any young American no matter their politics; she told black boys and black girls that they could make it too. In this moment of history, our nation also revisited history, with baseless disrespect by the Vice President against Senator Harris.
Kamala Harris came equipped to the debate wielding progressive policy for everyone and history on her side. While the strings of outgoing puppet Vice President Mike Pence were visible throughout the debate, Harris’ bid to the American people for the Vice Presidency stuck to fact, message, and an agenda fit for liberals across the spectrum. As a figure for the left-wing flank as America’s first female and black candidate for VP, a slant to the left was certainly visible. Appeal to independents less frequent than expected, but in an election shaped by basic human rights, Harris unapologetically advocated for the disenfranchised and forgotten American — of all stripes.
Beyond the politics, the white-black dynamic was on full display. In theory, there is no reason to respect Harris any less than Pence and vice versa. The difference in their treatment of one another shows the fault lines in “equality” and the increased struggle of people—especially women—of color to be taken seriously. It doesn’t matter if you’re a manager or running for the Vice Presidency, Americans saw that if you aren’t white things get a little different if you will. Pence has the background of a typical white Christian American. With Senator Harris, things get interesting.
Vice President Pence was able to pounce on a small inconsistency with her support for both versions of the Green New Deal, which meant siding with Biden on allowing and encouraging the fracking industry. “I will repeat, and the American people know, that Joe Biden will not ban fracking. That is a fact.” Selling it as a support for renewable energy and national energy independence, her wavering on this issue has actually put the black community at a greater disadvantage indirectly. Besides making some new enemies in the left-wing of her caucus, she promoted flammable water. In many towns near fracking sites, the tap water became flammable due to leaks. These communities are oftentimes disproportionately African-American. Lack of access to clean water is not only a public health emergency, but it is an expensive one too.
Harris’ support for fracking is not some nail in the coffin for her resounding support and representation for the African-American community. It definitely put on display how the party politics of D.C. often are self-serving and don’t always make sense for the citizen. As a black woman Kamala Harris is a person who has had to make many difficult strides otherwise unknown to a white competitor. She is respectfully, firmly independent. A fierce critic of Biden during the primary, she made her name in executive politics by being straightforward, communal, and breaking the mold. She’s also made a name for herself through advocacy for Medicare-for-All. During the debate, she slammed Pence for his anti-healthcare moves and said, “If you have a pre-existing condition, heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, they’re coming for you. If you love someone who has a pre-existing condition, they’re coming for you.”
Her appeal to healthcare was also a rallying cry for black women everywhere. Implicit bias in medicine against black women has been rampant in this country. Many mothers, but specifically black mothers, rely on certain social aides such as healthcare benefits to be present for themselves and their children. Like any other human, black women have pre-existing conditions. In a system where our own Center for Disease Control finds that black women are a whopping 60% more likely to get breast cancer than their racial counterparts, Harris’ commitment to healthcare would have significant ripple affects for all Americans and its most important communities that make it what it is. We cannot live in a nation that accepts such disparity between citizens, no matter their race, identity, or anything else. Kamala Harris is an anomaly. Not only does she offer solutions to the community, saying “no” isn’t really an option with her as she offers what the black community needs.
With even the conservative polls showing Trump down 12 points against Biden, America’s first black female Vice President does not seem far out of reach. The currently elected Congress has a record setting number of black women in representation, yet that number is only over 20 Congresswomen. In 2018 not only was the black vote mobilized, the black female vote and candidacy spiked. 31-year-old Lauren Underwood, a black woman, won her seat in a district predominately white and overwhelmingly Republican. Stories like Ms. Underwood’s put a spotlight on both the importance of the black woman in American society and government. A handful of these pioneer Congresswomen are now a part of ‘The Squad’, an unofficial caucus made up of females, many of them minorities and most prominently AOC. Where black women picked up ground in conservative districts neighbored where their white predecessors primary challengers couldn’t achieve in friendly districts. That momentum showing the effectiveness and crucial role of the black female in politics gives Harris an unknown position to bring communities together to form bold coalitions.
Although this was the only Vice Presidential debate, the Biden/Harris ticket set history in the importance of the VP debate. More importantly, that history was spearheaded by a black woman. Using policy and facts she ruled the night against a clearly underprepared puppet for the President. For the conservatives watching at home, the debate was another liberal wishlist. For the liberals watching the date, it was a triumph of a new era to come. For the American independent, it was getting to know Kamala Harris. Many independents are concerned about the judicial nomination to the Supreme Court, and with American independents swinging ever so slightly to the center-right this will be a tricky issue for VP contender. The American people know that we need a Justice committed to just that — justice. Although the Vice President does not nominate Supreme Court justices, they are the tie breaking vote and critical to the selection process.
The independent vote and minority turnout is going to decide this election. The Democratic Party has been out of touch with not only its base, but the everyday American as well. The party and Biden know this; their campaigning and advertising strategies are yielding commanding numbers in battleground states. The country has never cared much for the Vice Presidential debate. It was usually a showcase of the poor stooge strategically selected for their biggest voter base benefit. During the debate, America got to know a Senator who may very well be second in line for the Presidency.
is a former political consultant turned commentator. Ruthlessly independent, he does not toe party lines and asks the tough questions on every side of the issue at hand.