A woman of substance? | Pakistan Today

A woman of substance?

  • As expected, Biden picks a woman of colour for running-mate

Former US Vice-President Joe Biden, who is assured of the Democratic nomination for the US presidential election, has chosen US Senator Kamala Harris as his vice-presidential running-mate. He was widely expected to choose a ‘woman of colour’ for the position, and he did. In an election season where the Black Lives Matter movement came to the fore, even of the covid-19 pandemic, it was not enough for Biden that he was not incumbent Donald Trump. He had to counter the dark passages in his own history, when he supported Ku Klux Klanners against forced busing, and the allegations that, while not as predatory as Trump, he had been guilty of groping women on previous campaign trails. So he picked a black woman.

Senator Harris fits the profile, where people who have run for the presidential nomination unsuccessfully, are nominated for Vice-President. Indeed, that is how Biden himself was nominated vice-president in 2008. Harris provides geographical balance, being from the Western state of California, while Biden hails from the north-eastern state of Delaware. She has a statistically significant chance of becoming President, because Biden will be 78 if he wins, and his chances of winning are quite bright. However, though he has a considerable lead in the polls, he should not count his chickens before they are hatched. It should not be forgotten that in 2016, Trump was behind according to most polls, but pulled off an amazing victory, where he lost the popular vote, but won in the Electoral College. That could happen again.

The Pakistani government cannot look at this choice with equanimity. Ms Harris is not just the first female candidate of colour on a major-party presidential ticket; she is the first person of Indian descent. Though she identifies as a black woman because of her Jamaican father, her mother was an Indian. She herself was greatly influenced by her maternal grandfather, a diplomat, in her youth. With Trump such a friend of Narendra Modi, Pakistan might have hoped for a Democrat victory. However, with someone of Indian descent placed just a heartbeat away from the Presidency, in a Biden White House, policymakers in Islamabad must be hoping that Russian interference does keep Trump in the White House.