AuthorConniff, Ruth

We were in the backyard with our teenage girls, enjoying one last warm, socially distanced evening with friends who also have teenage daughters, when Joe Biden delivered his victory speech. All the major news networks had already declared Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris, the winners. We tuned in just as Harris strode onto the stage in suffragette white, to the strains of Mary J. Blige singing about being a beautiful queen. Suddenly, unexpectedly, I had tears in my eyes.

It's been a long four years of the misogynist, white supremacist Trump Administration--which began with chants of "lock her up" and moved on to embracing violent white nationalists, supporting police officers who kill Black people with impunity, and torturing immigrant children torn from their parents at the border.

Finally, we've made it to the other side--to a vision of America that includes powerful women and people of color, that looks to the future instead of wallowing in the wounded sense of entitlement of those who long for the imaginary "greatness" of the past, when racist and misogynistic hierarchies were strictly enforced.

Acknowledging "the generations of women--Black women, Asian, white, Latina, Native American women--who throughout our nation's history have paved the way for this moment tonight," Harris delivered her acceptance speech as the first woman and first person of color elected Vice President of the United States.

During the campaign, the Biden ticket did not go long on inspiration. Partly it was the fault of the pandemic, which prevented rock-concert-style stadium rallies (except for Trump, who reveled in these superspreader events). Partly, it was the candidate at the top of the ticket, the oldest man ever elected President of the United States, who, with his halting style, sprinkled with "by-the-ways" and "here's-the-deals," was no Barack Obama. Biden's denunciation of progressive policies toward the end of the campaign was downright discouraging--a bewildering effort to depress his own base.

Harris is no progressive icon either--despite Trump's efforts to portray her as a dangerous socialist. She's a career prosecutor and a center-left Democrat. But as the race was finally called, Harris brought back the goosebumps and the sense that this election is truly historic.

The symbolism is important, especially after the rightwing backlash of the Trump era. And so is the sensibility of a Vice President who talks about the lessons in social...

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