While we either celebrate the win or lament the loss of yet another old white guy for the highest office in the land, let’s remember something that occurred the last (and only) time a white guy did not win. In 2008, for the first time in our nation’s history, a younger guy with dark skin won the presidency. Many, myself included, felt it was about time; it was way overdue. And that sentiment was shared even by many who were not Democrats — people who genuinely feel that one’s character is sole the measure of the man. Of the man… Hold that thought. Of course, systemic racism combined with a hidden undertone of personal covert racism was still lurking beneath the surface, every so often peaking its head out with seemingly innocuous enough questions like, “Is this nation ready for a black president?” The answer was, obviously, yes. And no.
But this is not about that. Barack Obama remains insanely popular and at the same time, his very name raises the hair on the backs of some of our less evolved fellow Americans. Racism is dying a slow death, but to the extent that we can hasten it along — that I can push it over the cliff — we should. But what about this notion of character being the measure of the man? We have just elected the first female to the second highest office in the land, a “heartbeat away” from the presidency. Character measurement is, apparently, no longer limited to men. Kamala Harris has made history not only by being the first female elected to Vice President of the United States, but she, like Obama, also happens to have darker skin.
Disclaimer: At nearly 58 years old, I am an “old, white male.” I am also fiercely independent — long without party affiliation. The terminologies used to describe various groups, including my own, have changed over the years. Keeping up has sometimes proven challenging, but in every case I try to respect how those I am referring to wish to be referred. My own perspective regarding individuals is and always has been based on character.
Like Hillary Clinton being the first woman presidential nominee for a major party, Harris winning the vice presidency is ground-breaking — or, more accurately — ceiling-shattering, regardless of whether one supports her politically or not. It is also reason to celebrate for anyone who, like myself, celebrates and champions equality. Many of those on the left see the recent loss of seats in the House as a defeat, but hopefully they will see that many of those seats lost were won by women — yes, Republican women — but still women, and furthers progress for equality. Because, like racism, sexism is not dead. It is still systemic, institutionalized and lurking beneath the surface, peaking its ugly head up every time a comment as innocuous as one regarding her “outfit” or “her face” makes the news.
Kamala Harris is the Vice President Elect of the United States of America. Whether you like her or not, whether you support her policies or not, whether you are liberal, conservative, Democrat or Republican or something else, if you are American and embrace the ideals and values enshrined in our Constitution, you should be happy that women and those who are not white are being taken seriously for our highest offices. That should be good news, even if you are against the person who won the office. If it is not, I challenge you to examine what, exactly, your values are — and then go find a nation that matches them. Because it’s not the good ole USofA.