Fate has ordained that the electoral story that raised Kamala Harris to the second highest office in the most powerful nation on earth will now place in her hands the destiny of the American experiment.
The senate run-off election victories of Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff have changed the balance of power in the US Congress. Harris’s role is no longer ceremonial; as vice president, hers will be the tie-breaking vote in a senate split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans. As president-elect Joe Biden prepares to rebuild a country left disoriented by President Donald Trump, Harris wields the power to guide legislative direction, policy and cabinet selections.
The pandemic is still raging in the US, killing thousands of Americans every day. The outgoing administration is paralysed, while questions of duty and morality demand a search for greater truth and understanding. Circumstances have so aligned that all roads in the Biden agenda now go through Harris.
The power in Harris’s hands can change the course of history. In the long term, her vote will make the difference in policies related to climate change, civil rights, economy, education and foreign relations. As president, Barack Obama was impeded by senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s obstructionism . With Harris, Biden faces no such challenge.
Even as a large number of Americans move to sideline Trump and consolidate corporate and societal support for the Biden-Harris administration, the picture still remains unclear. America is headed into a vast political unknown where vision and leadership will complete the frame. This is Harris’s opportunity to be the guiding star on the American horizon.
Trump’s supporters had tried to overturn the election with their violent attack on the US Congress on January 6. By disrupting the Electoral College vote count during a joint session of the congress, they wanted to prevent the official certification of Biden’s election victory.
The insurrection was a resounding failure, but the embers of it is still smouldering on Capitol Hill. They could still be fanned by Trump loyalists to fire up people into taking a ‘heroic’ stand against the supposedly destructive policies of a Biden-Harris administration. Millions on the social media platform Parler are planning action on Washington on Biden’s inauguration on January 20.Neutralising the current state of affairs demands subtle leadership.
As president of the senate, Harris has the crucial role of exercising her power to save the American experiment. Because Trump has unravelled the fabric of American democracy and is desperately trying to wield the power of 75 million people who voted for him, she will have to be a responsible defender of the norms that have made the democratic process work.
The edge of the abyss to which Trump has led America will not be forgotten soon. Warnock’s post-victory statement—“Every day in the senate, I will fight for you”—is a marked shift from destructive to constructive politics. That is the stepladder in front of Harris.
What has been happening since the presidential election on November 3 is perhaps the slowest tectonic shift in American politics. A black-Indian woman prepares to lead a senate made new by the inclusion of the first black member from the American south and the first Jewish member from the state of Georgia.
Also, the Biden-Harris team can now select people for high government posts with greater flexibility, and introduce ambitious legislative proposals. This dominance will be of enormous help in making effective and lasting change, and in undoing the damage of four years of Trump’s splashy executive orders.
These are perilous times, and they will reveal what shines through—the fundamental weakness of the train of destruction unleashed by Trump to avenge his presidential loss, or the fundamental strength of the American democratic system.
With Democrats controlling the senate, Republicans can no longer derail the plans of the Biden-Harris team. From appointing federal judges to controlling senate committees, Harris will lead her party till at least 2022, when the mid-term congressional elections are due.
The Georgia results mark a turning point in US history — a moment in time when voters did no longer tolerate falsehoods of Trump and the anti-democratic, unconstitutional rebellion of craven politicians, sycophants and soulless manipulators.
Now, it is Kamala Harris who holds the lance that can slay the dragon of the ghosts of the American civil war by pushing forward a new, serious effort to reconstruct America. African Americans have given Democrats significant power that will have a major impact on what happens henceforth.
“I remember my dad used to wake me up every morning at dawn,” said Warnock. “It was morning, but it was still dark. It’s dark right now. But morning comes. And scripture tells us, ‘Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.’ Let us rise up, greet the morning, and meet the challenges of this moment. Together, we can do the necessary work and win the future for all of our children.”
Thanking the people for electing him, Ossoff promised to work for all Georgians whether they supported him or not. “We unite as people to overcome this challenge of Covid-19,” he said, “and to build a republic that lives up to our highest ideals of equality in God’s eyes and equal justice under the law.”
Milan Sime Martinic is a writer and researcher. His debut novel ‘IRONWAY: Watching over Benjamin Hill’ has been translated into five languages.