Kamala Harris: Democrats Trump card

First Person of Indian Origin to run for US vice president

Diaspora

August 12, 2020

/ By / New Delhi



Kamala Harris has become the first Black woman and an Indian-American to run on a major party’s Presidential ticket

Almost seven months after her efforts to win Democratic Party’s nomination for presidential election failed, Kamala Harris, a Person of Indian Origin (PIO), gets back into electoral fray as potential vice president on Democratic ticket.

After weeks of deliberations, Democrats’ presidential candidate and current front-runner for the November 3 election, Joe Biden chose California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate on August 11. With this Harris has become the first Black woman and an Indian-American to run on a major party’s Presidential ticket.

A woman has never served as President or vice president of the United States. Though two women – Democrat Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 and Republican Sarah Palin in 2008, were nominated as running mates on major party tickets, but their respective parties lost the general elections. Harris was the front-runner to be Joe Biden’s running mate pretty much since the presumptive Democratic nominee announced in March that he would pick a woman to be on his ticket.

One of Biden’s former rivals in the presidential race, Harris, 55, was born in Oakland, California. Raised primarily by her Indian-origin mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, a cancer researcher and civil rights activist, Harris grew up with her Indian heritage, joining her mother on frequent visits to India. Harris has said that her mother adopted Oakland’s Black culture, immersing her two daughters – Kamala and her younger sister May, within it.

From 2004 to 2011, Harris was a district attorney of San Francisco district. She went on to serve as California’s attorney general from 2011 to 2017. Her roles in these two positions will certainly be discussed in the general election campaign, especially given the national outcry over police brutality and systemic racism since the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, in May this year.

Harris was seen as a rising star of the Democratic party after her election as California’s junior US senator in 2017. Since her election to the US Senate, she gained favour among progressives for her questioning of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Attorney General William Barr during Senate hearings.

Harris joins Biden in the 2020 election at a moment of unprecedented national crisis in the United States

Harris joins Biden in the 2020 election at a moment of unprecedented national crisis in the United States. With over 5 million infections and nearly 170,000 deaths, the pandemic has caused havoc in the country and has been one of the key reasons behind President Donald Trump’s slide in ratings.

And while business closures and disruptions resulting from the pandemic caused economic collapse, millions of ordinary citizens have been protesting against racism and police brutality across the country. In such an atmosphere, choosing Harris as his vice presidential candidate, Biden has tried to rally Black voters solidly behind the Democratic Party. In 2016, Trump did manage to get a surprising number of Black votes and winning them back would be crucial for Biden.

Describing herself as a progressive prosecutor, Harris has argued that it is possible to be tough on crime while also confronting the deep inequities of the criminal justice system. She has said she became a prosecutor because she believed she could best change the system from within because she knew it ‘from the inside out.

A vocal advocate for campaigns like-‘education for all’ and ‘stop injustice against Blacks’, Harris, in her autobiography, The Truths We Hold: An American Journey, writes “Like it or not, most people prioritize their own safety over the education of someone else’s child. I wanted to make them see that if we didn’t prioritize education now, it would be a public safety matter later.”

As the 2020 presidential campaign enters its final weeks, both the Democrats and the Republicans have reinforced their efforts to woo the Indian community. While Trump launched Facebook ad campaigns and used Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s photographs in election campaigns to please the Indian diaspora, Biden’s campaign team launched a massive outreach programme in 14 languages, acknowledging the linguistic diversity of the ethnic community. Getting Harris, with her distinct Indian roots, could swing the Indian diaspora’s voters firmly towards the Democrats, Modi’s campaign for Trump notwithstanding.

With the moderate and educated WASP as well as Hispanic votes firmly in Biden’s pocket, Harris is now expected to deliver the Black and South Asian votes.

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