Madam Vice President

Madam Vice President is no longer just a fictional character. At 11:24 a.m. on Saturday, November 7th, after four days of tense anticipation, CNN projected Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential race, denying President Trump a second term. As Biden returns to the White House in January 2021, accompanying him will be Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, our nation’s first woman to hold this title. In her acceptance speech on Saturday night, Harris proclaimed “What a testament it is to Joe’s character that he had the audacity to break one of the most substantial barriers that exists in our country and select a woman as his vice president. But while I may be the first woman in this office, I won’t be the last” (NYTimes). 

Biden does not deserve all the credit for the glass ceiling that Harris shattered this weekend. Harris has been rising in the ranks for years—serving as the District Attorney of San Francisco, California’s Attorney General, and a United States Senator. Harris’ experience in public life, upholding the law and fighting for justice, perfectly positions her for this incredible moment in history and provides a front-row seat for America to see just how important representation in our government is. 

In general, women are underrepresented in America’s government. Although the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg strongly upheld during her lifetime that “women belong in all places where decisions are being made,” women are simply less likely to run for office. This tragedy is largely due to the disproportionate amount of responsibilities society places upon women, robbing them of sufficient flexibility in their schedules or time to campaign. Furthermore, inherent gender biases hinder women from assuming positions of power. Nevertheless, Senator Harris prevailed over these obstacles, and every little girl and young woman is looking up to her in awe and with hope. Harris is not only the first woman, but also the first Black person, first Indian American, and first South Asian American to serve as the second-highest officer in the executive branch. While systemic barriers to women’s success, especially women of color, have not miraculously dissipated with the Biden-Harris win, women are empowered by Harris’ fierce fight to overcome them.

Taking the stage in Wilmington, Delaware, Harris’ white-clad attire gave a figurative nod to all women who strive for political equality. While it is extremely aggravating for media sources to trivialize female politicians by focusing on what they wear rather than what they say, this isn’t about fashion—it’s about politics. The color white symbolizes the women’s suffrage movement, dawned by female politicians in the modern day to honor the influential women who came before them. Harris’ wardrobe choice was strategic, worn in solidarity with every other woman fighting her same battle (CNN).

One biracial woman among a never-ending lineup of white men in the White House is certainly not enough. But it is a step in the right direction. Even more importantly, the 2020 election outcome positions Harris as the probable front-runner of the Democratic presidential ticket in 2024, with Biden’s age possibly precluding him from another presidential bid. For Harris, and for women nationwide, this is only the beginning. In the meantime, just make sure not to cut your feet on any shattered glass.