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Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris Has a Beautiful Ring To It

Kamala Harris is the vice president-elect

While many of us are celebrating the presumptive Biden presidency, his running mate Kamala Harris is making all kinds of history on her own. Not only is Harris the first woman to be elected to one of the two highest offices in the land, but she’s also the first Black and South Asian woman to do so. The vice-presidential glass ceiling will be shattered into microscopic pieces when she is sworn in.

Kamala Harris is primed to be a new kind of vice president. At 56, Harris skirts the edge of Gen X and is much closer in age to the always-online Millenials and Gen Zers who helped put her in the White House than many high-profile politicians. She represents a different generation than the septuagenarians and octogenarians who hold positions of power in Congress. And because Joe Biden is 77, it’s quite possible that he will choose not to run in 2024 and that Harris will presumably become the Democratic party’s candidate.

This may seem like we’re getting ahead of ourselves, but Harris was partially selected for this very reason. Not only is she ready to step in and serve as president if need be, she is well-positioned to carry the party herself one day. Before Harris served as a United States Senator, she spent two terms as San Francisco’s Attorney General, then became the first African-American and first woman to serve as California’s Attorney General.

Biden well understands the importance of the vice presidential office, and I believe he’ll position Harris front and center to make an impact on the world stage—quite unlike Donald Trump, who could barely conceal his own dislike for his chief toady Mike Pence and, according to reports, was frequently jealous of Pence receiving better press.

This is a vital moment for women in politics and women in America. Hillary Clinton’s 2016 defeat came as a crushing blow, and drove home the reality that many people in this country preferred to vote for a racist bankrupt conman who enthusiastically endorsed sexual assault than a uber-qualified woman who was “too prepared.” Grappling with that reality has been difficult, especially as Trump’s crimes and lies and incompetency ballooned—and this year contributed to the death of nearly 250,000 Americans.

Sometimes I think about how Hillary Clinton would have handled the pandemic, and how many people would be alive that are no longer with us, and I want to set 2016 on fire. And many of us—not only women—were demoralized when Elizabeth Warren and Harris did not go further in the primaries. I still believe Warren would have wiped the floor with Trump on a national stage, but at this point I’m excited to see what she’ll do in the Biden administration.

Harris has been on my radar for years, ever since her brilliant and incisive presence made itself known on the Senate Judiciary Committee. On my laptop casing, I have an early Harris motto sticker that reads “Courage, Not Courtesy,” which is a message that women in America needed to hear. Harris’ relentless drive to call out hypocrisy made her a Congressional star, especially her prosecutorial dissection of Brett “I Love Beer” Kavanaugh.

At the time, Trump reacted to Harris’ questioning by calling her “extraordinarily nasty” and “a mad woman,” so you know she was doing her job right. But if that was when America at large began to notice Harris, many in Harris’s home state of California have been watching her with admiration for years. “Her CNN interview the day we were waiting for the Prop 8 decision is a thing of beauty,” a Californian friend who is a longtime supporter of Harris told me. “She was AG then and makes the legal case for why the constitution is for everyone and protects the rights of the oppressed, and you cannot silence that.”

Here’s Harris’ 2013 exchange with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer as she demonstrates her confidence in the unconstitutionality of Prop 8, which banned gay marriage in California, and forecasts that it will soon be made obsolete.

BLITZER: So you have no doubt that within a month, let’s say, if not sooner, gay couples will be allowed, in California, to get married?

HARRIS: There is no doubt whatsoever. The bells will ring and the marriages will begin. And it’s a great day in our state for equal protection under the law for all people.

And, um, you know, I look at the issue from a number of — of perspectives, including the fact that we have 50,000 children in California who are the children of those same-sex couples. And those children are looking up at their parents and us as — as the leaders of their community and saying, why can’t my parents and their marriage be considered as legitimate under the law as — as those of my classmates?

And what we know, as of today, is that very soon in California, we’re going to be able to look down at those children and say, yes, your parents are equal to any other parent and we will sanctify and we will recognize them as a married couple under the law, with all the rights that come with that.

And then:

On June 28, 2013, the Ninth Circuit lifted its stay of the district court’s ruling, enabling same-sex marriages to resume; minutes afterward, plaintiffs Perry and Stier became the first couple in California to legally wed under state law since the enactment of Proposition 8 in 2008, doing so at San Francisco City Hall at 4:45 PDT, with California’s Attorney General Kamala Harris officiating at the ceremony.

This is the next vice president-elect of the United States of America. We needed this win.

The Biden-Harris administration cannot come soon enough.

(image: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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Kaila is a lifelong New Yorker. She's written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.