On Saturday morning Kamala Devi Harris made history, becoming America’s first woman vice president, the first Black woman in the White House, and the first Indian-American woman in the White House.
Due to pandemic-related delays of mail-in ballots, combined with Donald Trump’s own false claims of election fraud, experts cautioned Americans to prepare for an election season, not an Election Day. While the Trump campaign attempted to lodge lawsuits in key swing states in the hopes of stopping legally cast ballots and delegitimizing the election, the majority of these suits were thrown out. In Michigan, for instance, Judge Cynthia Stevens told Trump lawyers that their entire argument was illegitimate. “I heard someone else say something... Tell me how that is not hearsay,” she said. “Come on, now!”
For a moment—just a moment—Harris and Biden’s win has given anyone who gives a damn about democracy a brief reprieve. America can take a collective sigh of relief, knowing that voters have stemmed the bleeding from the hemorrhage known as Donald Trump and prevented four more years of America’s descent into fascism. Trump has laid bare the inherent fragility of America’s democracy, has molded the next generation of the Supreme Court and federal courts into his image, and has emboldened white supremacist extremists who have not just vanished into the ether now that Trump’s out of office. Harris and Biden are inheriting a shitty economy, a broken, divided country that has lost faith in its institutions, and management of a pandemic that has killed more Americans than the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Iraq War, the War in Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf War combined, due to the previous administration’s incompetence. But, as I wrote about Harris’s historic nomination, it is necessary that we view a Biden/Harris election not as an end goal, but as the beginning of building a new era.
Despite the historic nature of Harris’s election, there is a wariness about whether she will fulfill promises to the Black and brown communities that she claims to represent. On the campaign trail, she centered criminal justice and offered vocal support for the Black Lives Matter movement, saying, “People of every age and color and creed who are finally declaring in one voice that yes, Black lives matter.” While Harris was among the most progressive senators during her three years in Congress and branded herself as a “progressive prosecutor.” However, as California’s former attorney general and San Francisco’s former district attorney, she was a “tough on crime” prosecutor who later called herself the state’s “top cop,” wreaking havoc on disproportionately Black and brown communities. Her record is inconsistent, leaving considerable doubt as to what extent Harris will use her power to advance necessary reforms as vice president. Biden and Harris, for most of their career, have been centrists that have toed the line within the Democratic party and must continue to be held accountable to keep their campaign promises and go beyond them.
For now, however, I endorse catharsis in whatever way works you, whether that’s enjoying a long ugly cry, frolicking through the street with giddy, childlike joy, or kicking back an irresponsible number of tequila shots, to release the pent up anxiety that has been bubbling inside each of us since this god-awful election season began. Congratulations, you made it through hell.
Then buckle up and get ready, because we’ve got work to do.