I wasn’t expecting to have as emotional reaction as I had to Joe Biden naming Kamala Harris as his running mate. But oh boy - did I ever FEEL this one. And from what I am seeing and hearing from other women I am clearly not alone in this.
I can still feel the tears streaming down my face on that terrible night in November 2016. It wasn’t so much that I couldn’t see Hilary Clinton’s faults - it was that they so paled in comparison to the pussy grabbing, racist incoherence of her opponent who stunningly won the most powerful seat in the world shocking even himself. In retrospect any concerns regarding an email server “scandal” seem positively quaint. It seemed completely illogical that America would choose an unproven lying narcissist to lead the nation when there was a perfectly competent woman ready for the job. But maybe logic has nothing to do with it.
In the moment I was told not to worry too much. (How many of us were told our concerns were overblown????) That Donald would settle into the role and he would surround himself with smart folks who would keep him in check. That this was all just a bit of a show and he was infinitely more sensible than what had been presented during the campaign. He was simply gaming things. Or that the Majority in the Senate would hold him to account. Well we all know how that turned out.
For years conversations about whether or not America is ready for a woman leader have been circulating. Seeing the status quo come to pass with the nomination of perfectly nice and white and male Joe Biden was fine. Just fine, if a little uninspired. So while the rhetoric continued to deteriorate over the course of the past few years, along with the last few brain cells in Trump’s head, women across the globe kept asking themselves how it was that Trump was somehow a better choice than a woman who had been an incredibly well respected Senator as well as Secretary of State.
(As an aside, Hilary was always very well thought of when she held office. She even managed to work effectively in a bi-partisan manner. It was only when she asked for votes for the highest office in the land did the extreme narratives take hold).
Was it that Clinton was a “bad candidate”? Or ran a bad campaign? Or that America was really that sexist?
As the years passed, we saw less and less diversity in the White House. Women became favourite targets of the President. Nasty women. Female reporters of colour were berated by him with shocking frequency. Once again we became accustomed to seeing rooms full of ONLY pale, male and stale making decisions that impact the world. (We need diversity - that includes white men - just not to the exclusion of everyone else.)
Why are we so engaged in US politics? Simply because US policy has global impacts regardless of how much we would like to sever ourselves from their influence.
Then Tuesday happened. Joe picked Kamala (“comma - la” is the proper pronunciation Tucker). Not only is Senator Harris the first Black/Asian American woman of colour on the VP ticket but she is one of the most competent and prepared VP choices of all time. Joe is 78. And let’s be honest- it shows. The chances of his VP having to step up are higher than average and so not only in Kamala did he find someone who could reflect themselves to a demographic much different than his - he also found a prosecutor, a legislator, a community leader and an experienced serious Senator who has proven herself over and over again. With that choice women across the globe felt a small glimmer of hope again.
Maybe things can turn around here sooner than we think. Maybe the pain of that awful night in November four years ago can be soothed. The relief I feel at the idea of a competent serious woman at the helm is immense.
Womens' competence in governance is on full display throughout much of the western world at the moment. I think about Germany, Finland and New Zealand and their science led approaches to battling Covid-19 - all lead by immensely well respected women. The track record speaks for itself.
Let us hope that the United States is prepared to follow this path towards gender equality in leadership. Senator Harris has on her shoulders much responsibility but she is now also a vessel for the hopes of so many women. A hope that voters will see in her the actionable competence the role of VP and/or President requires. A hope that the pussy grabber goes down in flames. A hope that not only is Donald defeated but that there is a woman on the ticket that brings him down. That might sound vaguely vengeful. It is.