By: Sofia Franco
The United States' Vice-President Mrs. Kamala Harris, aged 57, has broken several barriers to reach her current position. She is the highest-ranked female official in American history, in addition to being the first African American and Asian American Vice President. After briefly conducting her own presidential campaign, Harris was selected by Biden to run as Vice President alongside him; she appeared to be ready to "step in if necessary". This is a milestone regarding racial and gender equality, as women and people of colour have been historically excluded from American politics. Only a few days ago, yet another barrier was surpassed, as Kamala Harris became the first American woman to be granted presidential powers. Bakari Sellers, her political ally, describes this as "another crack" in the glass ceiling, but what exactly did this transfer of power entail, and just how deep was this crack?
DESCRIPTION OF THE PRESIDENCY
The United States Constitution outlines the possibility of a temporary transfer of power from the President to the Vice-President in the event of the President being unable to enact their duties. This was the case on the 19th of November 2021, when current United States President Joe Biden was placed under anaesthesia to undergo a routine colonoscopy. Therefore, Biden sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and to Democratic Senator of Vermont Patrick Leahy (pro tempore President of the Senate) to inform them of his procedure, and of the transfer of power taking place at 7.10 AM that day.
As a result, Kamala Harris, the 49th and acting vice-president of the nation, took power, and remained responsible for all presidential decisions for a period of 85 minutes. During this short period of time, Kamala remained working in her office in the West Wing of the White House, and later travelled to Columbus, Ohio, once the President was no longer under anaesthesia, to visit the Union Headquarters and promote the administration's infrastructure legislation. A similar incident had been seen during the office of President George W. Bush, n 2002 and 2007. Despite her presidency being very short-lived, these 85 minutes carried an undeniable significance, and makes us all question, what would have been the impacts of this "road not taken"?
THE DEEPER MEANING OF THIS 'ROAD NOT TAKEN'
Although merely a glimpse, Kamala Harris' "road not taken" is extremely significant to society. It is a means of providing representation to Asian-Americans, African Americans, and women, three groups that have been continuously excluded from American politics since the dawn of time and have never been given room to incite fundamental change. Naturally, it is sensational that this individual has been awarded the crucial role of Vice-President, while the leader of the nation continues to be an older, white, male individual, the embodiment of the elite in power. Having the chance to see the possibilities for the future, and the path that, although not followed during this election, could be pursued in the future, provided immense hope to these excluded groups. Despite possibility perhaps causing a sense of longing for what could have been, this event demonstrates how there is still hope for the future, a future in which the "road not taken" must be considered more deeply. This is especially since we have been avoiding the essential decision of "taking this road, " for far too long.
Thus, Kamala Harris' brief presidency reminds us of the future that is to come in a world that strives towards equality and justice. As previously mentioned, change has already been made, but there is much left to do. It is undeniable that the changes proposed aim to modify our very way of life. Regardless, how else shall we eradicate the systematic oppression that innumerous marginalized individuals currently face? We must look towards the paths we have not yet chosen to take, and consider their repercussions, forging a new road towards a future that incorporates and represents all.