The Historic Element Of This Election

Kamala Harris just has to be

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It’s been a rough election season for all of us. So much negativity, anything positive gets drowned out. If we can find it. But I find it in Kamala.

That’s what I chose to draw about yesterday in my daily live draw. Kamala Harris is an upbeat person, and as tough a prosecutor as she is, as much as she knows the reality of the situation (whatever situation we are talking about), she loves to laugh and dance and smile. It’s infectious.

But that aside, Kamala Harris is about to make history if she and her running mate Joe Biden win the election today. That is something to smile about. If they win, she will be the first woman, person of color and South Asian American to be Vice President.

The Washington Post published an article yesterday about this, the headline of which was Kamala Harris Could Be Quietly On The Brink Of A Historic Leap. It struck me: why “quietly?”

Previous female candidates who ran for high office often were more outspoken about breaking a glass ceiling. Hillary Clinton in 2008, of course, Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warrenin 2019, all spoke of it or used the potential historic nature of their election as part of the campaign. In 2008, Sarah Palin ran for VP with presidential candidate John McCain, and her gender was used by the campaign, while her feminism was unlcear. Shirley Chisholm ran for president in 1972 as the first woman and first Black woman to run for the office, but I don’t recall her speaking of her gender much — I was young, so if she did, I don’t know if I would have noticed that detail. I was aware of her historic entry because of her race — even though no one took her seriously at the time. Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 was the first woman of a major party to be on a ticket as VP with Walter Mondale. While Ferraro may not have specifically broadcast her gender or outwardly say she was a feminist (it was a very different time), it was very much in the media that the fact she was a woman was an issue. We had just gone through the Second Wave of Feminism, but yet a large portion of the general public didn’t think a woman was capable of being Vice President, let alone President.

With Kamala, what we are seeing is that she embodies feminism. By the time Joe Biden chose her in his historic selection, Kamala had already broken barriers. As an attorney, she was the first woman, first Black, first South Asian American to be District Attorney of California. Kamala has been around in the public eye a lot, as the first Black woman to serve in the Senate. And of course, a presidential candidate in 2019/20.

There is no need to forcefully speak about her being a woman. Those who went before her have paved the way; many of them were loud about it because they had to be. All Kamala has to so is show up and be who she is.

All she has to do is to say is “I’m speaking” in a forceful way. During the VP debate this fall when she repeatedly had to say that to VP Mike Pence, we knew she was calling Vice President Mike Pence out for being rude to her as a woman. We get the subtext. Despite the fact that many in the US still won’t admit they are feminists, we as a country better understand the subtlties of misogyny and sexim. We can spot it. Kamala does not have to be loud about it. She just has to be, to show up, and we know she advocates for women.

She will be a role model for many people, not the least of which are young black and brown girls. She speaks, and they know they can. Kamala is a role model for me, as well.

This election of 2020 is the loudest election I have ever witnessed, probably the loudest in the history of our country. But while we witness unprecidented violence and division, we are witnessing history of a different sort.

A positive change. Let’s hope we can elect Kamala.

My daily live drawing on HappsTV./@liza is at 5:30pm EST

Written by

Visual journalist/writer for New Yorker, New York Times, CBS News, CNN. TED, SXSW speaker. Looking to change world w humor. lizadonnelly.com

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