Vice president Kamala Harris has been in office for more than ten months now. She has broken paradigms in politics as the first Black and Asian American female vice president in the United States.
The Woman Post | Diana Sedano Valdes
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Harris was one of the first three Black senators and was one of the two Black women that have served in the Senate. During her time at Congress, she opposed President Trump’s government and promoted bills to address ethnic inequalities in health care, education, taxes to the middle class, and the criminal justice system. Currently, as vice president, Harris is the principal advisor to President Biden but is also the president of the Senate. Her role is crucial because she has a tie-breaking vote in a current evenly divided Senate between Democrats and Republicans.
The most important topics addressed during her first year have been: Police and race, immigration, health, climate change, gun control, voters' rights, expansion of trade partners, and women’s rights. She has also had to deal with all the consequences derived from the US troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan. And she has also been active at explaining the US position on the climate change global emergency. However, some of her supporting campaign groups have expressed their disagreement with the portfolio and assigned duties to Kamala Harris.
Policy and Race
Kamala Harris has denounced, even before being vice president, abuses to the black community. Indeed, during her first year at the White House, she addressed part of the crisis generated by the murder of George Floyd. She was designated to be in communication with his family on behalf of the Government. However, her ability to go from the symbolic arena to pragmatic actions to stopping police violence has been questioned. The black community in the US has complained about not making enough efforts to achieve the approval of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021. They expected more from her as president of the Senate to avoid the collapse of the bill in September 2021.
During her career, she has also defended migrants. In her first speech when elected to the Senate, Kamala Harris supported immigrants and refugees. She demanded better conditions at the Migrant Detention Centers and more opportunities for DREAMers and all immigrants. Nevertheless, she has recently received several critics during her visit to Central America to address migration issues. Media highlighted when she said to migrants in her speech: "Do not come to America."
The COVID-19 Pandemic
Even though there have been some scandals concerning migration issues, Harris has always implied the need to have a strong relationship with Latin American countries. The pandemic has also been an opportunity for the United States to expand its influence in the world. Vice president Harris was in charge of notifying the share of at least 80 million vaccines globally by the end of June. To announce the first 25 million doses, she first met with President Andres Manuel López Obrador of Mexico, President Alejandro Giammattei of Guatemala, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, and Prime Minister Keith Rowley, Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
Indeed, one of her main duties besides President Biden has been to rebuild United Sates’ global partnerships. Recently, she met with Dr. Angela Merkel, when she was still Chancellor of Germany, President Hichilema from Zambia, Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, and the Alternate Prime Minister of Israel, Yair Lapid. Her meeting with Israel aimed at strengthening relations following an incident in which the vice president did not defend Israel when it was said in public that they were perpetuating an ethnic genocide. She has also traveled to Singapore and Vietnam to expand economic cooperation with these two critical Indo-Pacific partners of the United States.
Voter’s Rights and Domestic Politics
Moreover, at the national level, her discourse has focused on encouraging people to vote for their decision-makers. She has expressed the need to keep protecting voters' rights to preserve the legitimacy of the US democracy. Vice president Harris has been very active in campaign events for the upcoming governors' elections. She has supported Governor Gavin Newson to win the elections in California. She has also recently been in Virginia and Texas to support her candidates. Harris has heavily backed up Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe in Norfolk amid a battle for the Black votes in Virginia. However, her support for his campaign has been controversial as he has been constantly accused of being in contact with abusive police officers. Thus, Vice president Harris will have to maintain her credibility among the black communities not only for her career but also for the people she supports.
Kamala Harris recounts in most of her interviews that she has constantly heard people tell her that she is the first black woman to ever do all that she has done. However, she tries to avoid these categories, considering equality as the possibility to act no matter your gender or ethnic roots. Harris thinks we should tell de world who we are and not figure us out according to what the world tells us to be. She is always speaking about inclusion and justice. She advises other women implying that they should be joyful warriors; they should continue with their ambition and do not apologize for it. She says we shouldn’t only fight against something but also for something.