Kamala Harris, a historic vice president

Already a pioneer many times, Kamala Harris shattered a new glass ceiling on Wednesday by becoming the first woman, and the first person of color, to become the vice-president of the United States, consecration of an extraordinary career.

At 56, the dynamic and pugnacious senator from California allowed Joe Biden, 78, to garner the votes of a more diverse electorate who thirsted to be better represented at the top of power.

So much so that some voters said they voted not for the veteran of politics but for her, the daughter of a Jamaican father and an Indian mother.

It is dressed in white, in memory of the suffragists, that she made her victory speech in November, paying a vibrant tribute to her mother and to those “who have sacrificed so much for equality, freedom and justice for all”.

“I think of her, of the generations of women, black, Asian, white, Latin, Native American, who paved the way.”

Hailing Joe Biden’s “audacity” for choosing her, she promised, “If I’m the first woman to hold this position, I won’t be the last. Because every little girl who looks tonight sees that we we are in the land of all possibilities. ”

– “Your power” –

Kamala Harris arrives with her relatives at the White House on January 20, 2021 (AFP – Nicholas Kamm)

During the campaign, this former prosecutor had called tirelessly for a historic mobilization, denouncing the attempts to obstruct the ballot in republican states.

“Why do you think so many powerful people (…) are trying to stop you from voting?” She told young African-American voters in Georgia. Because “they know your power.”

After the historic wave of anger against racism and police violence, she promises with the former vice-president of Barack Obama to “eradicate” injustices.

All while strictly respecting the measures against the Covid-19, like Joe Biden, she led a more active campaign than the septuagenarian, dancing to the rhythm of brass bands or talking with cafe customers … outdoors, pandemic obliges.

– Pioneer –

Kamala Harris during a speech in Columbus, Georgia, for a US Senate on December 21, 2021 (AFP / Archives - Tami Chappell)
Kamala Harris during a speech in Columbus, Georgia, for a US Senate on December 21, 2021 (AFP / Archives – Tami Chappell)

With a brilliant career, worthy of the best American dream, despite controversial chapters, she dreamed of becoming the first woman president of the United States.

It is finally as vice-president that she entered the White House but with an eye, no doubt, on the presidential election of 2024. And the hope of then breaking the ultimate glass ceiling.

Kamala Harris is already racking up the Pioneer titles.

She grew up in Oakland, where her parents – an economics professor father and a now deceased breast cancer researcher mother – were civil rights activists.

A graduate of Howard University, founded in Washington to welcome African-American students in the midst of segregation, she regularly recalls her membership in the association of black students “Alpha Kappa Alpha”.

After two terms as a prosecutor in San Francisco (2004-2011), she was twice elected attorney general of California (2011-2017), becoming the first woman, but also the first black person, to head the judicial services. of the most populous state in the country.

Then in January 2017, she was sworn in to the Senate in Washington, registering as the first woman from South Asia and only the second black senator in history.

Vice-president, she will not quite leave the upper house: it is she who, according to the Constitution, can tip the balance in the event of a foreseeable equality, with from Wednesday evening 50 Democratic senators against 50 Republicans.

– “Ready to be president” –

Kamala Harris Converse on October 2, 2020 in Las Vegas (GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP - Ethan Miller)
Kamala Harris Converse on October 2, 2020 in Las Vegas (GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP – Ethan Miller)

In the Senate, her close questioning of Donald Trump’s candidates made her famous.

But it was against Joe Biden that she had made the strongest sparks, attacking him, then a candidate for the Democratic primary, on his past positions concerning the policies of racial desegregation in the 1970s.

As she told how, as a little girl, she was on one of the buses bringing black schoolchildren to white neighborhoods, she had moved, and briefly jumped in the polls.

Struggling to clearly define her candidacy, however, she threw in the towel even before the first ballot.

Her experiences in the legislative, judicial and executive branches of power, and her closeness to Beau Biden, son of the future president who died of cancer in 2015, nevertheless convinced her ex-rival to choose her as his running mate.

Joe Biden also relies on her modern image of a woman presenting herself as “Momala”, proud of her mixed and blended family, with her husband, lawyer Douglas Emhoff, father of two, by his side. Like when she entered the White House on Wednesday.

But her past as a prosecutor also weighs against her. Progressives deplore its reputation for harshness, in particular by strictly punishing small crimes which, according to its detractors, have mainly affected minorities.

Faced with Mike Pence, in the only debate of the vice-presidents, she had exhausted the management by the executive of the coronavirus crisis.

The next day, Donald Trump called her a “monster”.

“I’m not commenting on his childish remarks,” Kamala Harris responded.

At his side, Joe Biden was indignant at the president’s “shameful” remarks. Before praising her running mate: “She’s one of the best people I’ve ever known. She’s someone who is ready, on day one, to be president of the United States.”


Source: Challenges en temps réel : accueil by www.challenges.fr.

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