“Born of Indo-African descent, Democrat Presidential nominee Kamala Harris has built her career as a tough litigator – fiercely independent, unsparing of crime and a defender of the weak and helpless. She is the President that America needs in 2020.” – Deepak Kaistha
In 2008, America created history by electing Barack Obama as its first black president. In 2019, with the buzz around the candidature of Kamala Harris for President next year, could history be created once again?
Kamala Harris, who was born to a African Stanford University professor father and a Tamil physician mother, managed to tick quite a lot of boxes when she announced her candidature on January 21, 2019. She chose Martin Luther King day for the announcement, signifying clearly what she represents.
Her launch is also timed with day in 1972 when Black Rep. Shirley Chisholm announced that she would seek Democratic nomination for President – the first woman and African American to do so on a major political party’s ticket. Kamala’s campaign logo uses a striking yellow-red colour scheme similar to Chisholm.
Even US President Donald Trump has praised Kamala Harris, saying that she has the best opening among the Democrat candidates so far in terms of crowd and enthusiasm. Around 20,000 people attended her announcement, compared to 15,000 attendees when Barack Obama announced his candidature in 2007.
Kamala has grown up with a dual identity. She lived in African American communities and went to Black churches. But she has also been deeply rooted in Indian culture – with visits to Hindu temples and frequent trips to India to meet her relatives.
Her late mother Shyamala was an Indian-American immigrant, physician, activist and breast cancer researcher. Shyamala had a major influence on Kamala’s upbringing. She encouraged her daughter to solve her own problems rather than constantly ask for help.
Shyamala told her daughter at the beginning of her political career, “Focus on what’s in front of you and the rest will follow.”
Armed with a law degree from the Hastings College of Law, Kamala began her career as a prosecutor for murder, robbery and child rape cases. She has gained the reputation of being extremely tough on crime.
In 2003, Kamala made history by becoming the first to be elected as district attorney of San Francisco. She was re-elected in 2007. Subsequently, she was also the first woman, black and South Asian to become the California attorney general in 2010 and later the US Senator for California in 2017.
As Presidential candidate, she has clearly positioned herself on liberal and progressive lines. Kamala has commented that the American society is under attack :
“People are trying to convince us that the villain in our American story is each other.” She squarely criticized Trump for the wall imbroglio, calling his proposal a ‘medieval vanity project’.
It’s still early in the US presidential race to decide a favourite, but Kamala Harris has some clear advantages – she will appeal to women as well as minorities. Moreover, her Indian lineage adds a bigger boost to her chances, as the 4-million-strong Indian community is the wealthiest demographic sub-group in America and is also known to be progressive leaning.
To top it all, Kamala has strong credentials as a campaigner for people‘s issues and as a crusader against crime. Several Americans are disenchanted with the current President and have perhaps moved too far right for their own comfort.So Kamala’s ascent to the White House is definitely within the realms of possibility.