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Kamala Harris: between history and irrelevance

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The Democratic Senator of California, Kamala Harris, being the wife and daughter of an Indian and a Jamaican, will make history if she reaches the White House as vice president. She is only the fourth woman to be on a presidential ballot: Geraldine Ferraro, as Walter Mondale’s partner, in 1984; Sarah Palin, as John McCain’s partner, in 2008; and Hillary Clinton, as a presidential candidate, in 2016.

In the spring, when it became clear that he would be the Democratic nominee, Joe Biden vowed to nominate a woman as his running mate. When the ‘ Black Lives Matter ‘ movement went national over the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a white cop, Kamala’s chances of being selected by Biden were strengthened.

In the end, there were three African Americans on the shortlist for the vice presidency: Kamala; Susan Rice, former National Security Advisor to President Barack Obama; and Karen Bass, US Representative for Los Angeles. Biden decided on the safest one. The best known and closest to her own ideology, the pragmatic center of the Democratic Party. Why risk if the polls favor you.

Kamala comes to strengthen the popularity of the Democratic formula with African American voters. It is paradoxical that the issue of racism alienated her and brought her closer to Biden. In the first presidential debate of Democratic candidates, Kamala’s surprise criticism of the leader was the great bell.

Without a question, Kamala pointed out that being the only woman of color on stage she wanted to make a reference to racism. And she said she didn’t think Biden was a racist, but “as a senator she allied with two conservatives to end school transportation that allowed her as a child to go to a good white school.” Totally surprised, Biden was literally cold.

Kamala will not arouse much enthusiasm among the party’s left wing, that is, among the supporters of independent Vermont senator Bernie Sanders. But the fact that she is a woman and an ethnic minority gives her a natural acceptance in that segment of the electorate. In addition, as a legislator, she has winked at Sanders supporters. It supports universal health coverage and a minimum wage of $ 15 an hour.

Her highlights in her short career as a senator have been questioning some of Trump’s nominees, such as his first attorney general, Jeff Sessions or his second nominee for the Supreme Court, Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

The questioning is natural to him. A lawyer by profession, she became known as an ambitious San Francisco city attorney (2004-2011) and eventually a state attorney general (2011-2017).

My colleague Harley Sheiken, director of Latin American studies at the University of California, Berkeley, who is a friend of Kamala, shares with me: a young woman who was born and raised in Oakland, California and who grew up as a political leader in San Francisco and Sacramento, the capital of the state, it is very clear the importance of Mexico for the state and for the country. “She understands Mexico and will be open to knowing it better and exploring it.”

Now, the vice presidential candidates usually don’t make a difference in the general election. It is kind of an important requirement, but not sufficient. Biden would be, to arrive at the Oval Office, the most veteran president, with 77 years. Kamala is 55.

Matthew Dowd, George W. Bush’s former campaign adviser, puts it this way: Kamala will only make noise for the first five days after her nomination. What we are witnessing in the election on November 3 is a kind of plebiscite on the first four years of Trump. What counts at the time of reelection are the results; voter satisfaction.

This week, without a doubt, the note has been the nomination of Kamala. Furthermore, reaching the vice presidency will make history. But in the end, it will have little influence on the decision that the American elector makes on November 3. The issue is Trump and literally nothing but Trump.

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