Opinion

Kamala Harris just shattered two glass ceilings

Let's take a moment to reflect on the historic nature of the 2020 presidential election results

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the president-elect and vice president-elect of the United States, and the sound you're hearing is the collective exhale of millions of Americans who've spent the last four years dreaming of a White House free of Donald Trump.

Because of the breakneck pace of news the past few years, it might be difficult to stop and savor the moment. When you're constantly waiting for another deranged tweet to drop, another menacing executive order to be issued, another group of people to be threatened, taking a beat to absorb good news becomes a luxury. But it's not: It's your right. And it's the only way to recharge for the ongoing fight against the enduring forces that brought us Trump.

Despite Democratic control of the Senate looking increasingly unlikely and Justice Amy Coney Barrett's hurried Supreme Court confirmation still stinging, there is much to celebrate in this moment.

First and foremost, Trump has joined the club of one-term presidents. He has consumed too many of our days since he rode down the escalator of his tower in 2015 and announced his bid for the highest office in the land. Finally, Americans will be able to reinvest the time we spent worrying and obsessing about his unchecked power into more worthwhile pursuits, like local politics, community organizing, community service, improving relationships with others and ourselves, and even personal joys that became a casualty of Trump's America.

Biden is a fundamentally decent man who's fit for the job of commander-in-chief. Electing a white, upper class, cisgender, heterosexual man as president is hardly historical, but what is historical is the election of Sen. Kamala Harris as the first female vice president. The groundbreaking nature of her election has been somewhat buried, and perhaps since we came so close to electing a woman president in 2016, it feels like a bit of an inevitability. A repayment of a debt. But it's incumbent upon us to recognize this enormous first.

For the first time ever, a woman — a Black and Indian woman — is set to be the second most powerful person in a country still deeply steeped in white supremacy. She's not perfect — many have issues with her resume as a prosecutor. But it's undeniable she has now shattered not one but two glass ceilings in one fell swoop. Soon America will have a madame vice president, and with one former vice president just getting elected president, there's no reason she couldn't be next.

To be clear, celebrating the end of President Trump is not an invitation for progressive Americans to disengage. It does not mark the end of the so-called "resistance" that emerged with his first and only successful election. If anything, it's our cue to engage deeper, because the forces that gave rise to Trump aren't going anywhere. Just as white supremacy didn't magically disappear with the civil rights movement, nor will the brash and bullying politics of the Trump years end when he exits 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

In January we'll have our first congresswoman who is a fervent believer in the QAnon conspiracy theory. We'll have another who showed up to an event for former presidential candidate Beto O'rourke carrying a loaded gun to protest his stance on gun control. If you're a white person who believes people of color feel safe in America now that Trump is out, you're not paying attention. If you're a white person who believes the election of a Black female vice president will heal our racial divide, you are ignoring why this divide still exists and exempting yourself from the collective anti-racist work that needs to be done.

Exit polls suggest that just as many white voters cast their ballot for Trump this year as in 2016. If these voters had their way, Trump would be cruising to re-election. It's because of grassroots organizers — many of them Black or Brown — who tirelessly rallied their communities to turn out and vote that we're able to celebrate today. The result in Georgia would not have been possible without Black-led organizations like Fair Fight, the New Georgia Project, Georgia NAACP, and Black Voters Matter investing deeply in voter registration and helping register one million new voters in the state since 2016. The least we can give them is introspection. The most we can give them is a prominent voice in the future of our party.

Anti-Trump Americans hoped this election would be an overwhelming repudiation of not just the man himself, but the party whose conditions made his rise to power possible. And while Biden's margin of victory looks like it will prove the former, down ballot results tell a different story: Senate races in states like Iowa, Maine, South Carolina, and Montana that were forecasted to be close or probable wins ended with Republicans winning by healthy margins, and despite maintaining control of the House, multiple members who were elected as part of 2018's blue wave were sent packing.

If anything, this tells us that "the battle for the soul of our nation," as the Biden campaign put it, has only just begun.

So please, take this moment to celebrate this hard-fought victory. Then consider your role in the next four years and beyond.

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