You may have seen, since last week’s heavily anticipated election results, the world rejoice.
Millions of voters all across the US took to the streets to celebrate the win of President Elect Joe Biden and Vice President Elect Kamala Harris. Those of us in other countries gladly breathed a sigh of relief and retweeted the hilarious hashtag ‘#byedon’.
This was extraordinary to watch on TV, to feel a part of online and to be able to witness such elation during such a tough year.
It saddened me then, when I saw people undermine these joyous celebrations with the immediate reminder that America is far from perfect.
Twitter users and jazzy infographics on Instagram were quick to try and tear any pleasure away from the election results. People pointed to Kamala Harris’ past as a prosecutor, to her report card on important issues like healthcare and police brutality, and ridiculed anyone seen to be rejoicing for her win.
On the one hand, I understood this.
This is the person that will be in charge (or, second in charge) of one of the most influential countries in the world. Of course we want perfection. We should want perfection.
But unfortunately nobody is perfect, least of all any politician.
So on the other hand I thought, let people celebrate. Let them be happy. 2020 does not need, nor do I think it can even fit in, any more negativity. So let us observe the little victories wherever and whenever we can get them.
Victories like the monumental glass ceiling Kamala Harris has broken by becoming not only the first woman to become Vice President, but the first Black and Indian American person too. After the seemingly endless history of white, male VPs, a woman of colour and daughter of immigrants is a change we sorely needed.
A quote taken from Harris’ victory speech says its all:
“While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last – because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.”
For the millions of children who grew up without dolls and TV characters that looked like them, it’s worth celebrating that now there’s a Vice President who does.
Of course Harris, like any other politician, has her pros and cons. The last four years have definitely been centred around cons, largely due to the fact that Trump and Pence have very little pros to flaunt. So let us celebrate the fact that the next four years could be different.
Kamala is pro-choice, supports marriage equality, wants to enact stricter gun control, legalise marijuana and has been very vocal about fighting climate change. She is against fracking and the death penalty, and has pledged to offer a path of citizenship to millions of undocumented immigrants in the US, as well as striving to decriminalise border crossings. Harris has been passionate about closing the gender pay gap within large companies, and providing workers with 6 month paid family leave for medical, personal, or domestic violence issues.
Safe to say there are more pros on Harris’ list that Trump and Pence’s combined, and that wasn’t even the exhaustive version.
Let us celebrate that Harris faced all of the same criticisms (and more) that plagued Hilary throughout her campaign in 2016, and still came out on top.
She has been described, by none other that Donald Trump himself, as ‘extraordinary nasty’, ‘unlikeable’, a ‘monster’ and ‘horrible’. Various others have labelled her ‘too ambitious’, ‘too radical’, and, just to keep reinforcing the tired ‘angry black women’ stereotype, ‘too mean’.
Harris didn’t let these, or being referred to by a UK Lord as just ‘the Indian’, stop her. Instead she soldiered on and gave us our new favourite response to men when they – inevitably – interrupt us, “I’m speaking”.
So yes, we don’t quite have superheroes in office just yet. The democratic party isn’t as left as we would hope. And Vice President Elect Harris is far from perfection.
But in a year like 2020, every small victory should be celebrated like a big one, because we need all the help we can get to finish this year off on a positive note.
A positive note like, it could have been a lot, lot worse…