By Victoria Christopher Murray
If there is one thing I’ve learned over the last six years or so, it’s that during our fifth grade civics class, half of us skipped the lesson and the other half slept through the lectures. At least that’s the way it seems to me when I get into political discussions with folks because most of us are missing the basics when it comes to politics and civil engagement. It’s frightening, the number of people who don’t know the difference between their congressional representatives and their Senators. Or who don’t realize they have state Senators as well as the ones in Washington. Or the people who believe that the President is the one who makes/writes the laws in this country.
All of that is enough to make me wanna holler, but the most egregious misunderstandings I’ve heard have come in the cries from Americans (and a shocking number of Black Americans among them) who are asking — Where is Kamala Harris?
Why, oh why is anyone asking this question? Even without that fifth grade civics class, has anyone ever noticed any Vice Presidents in our country before? Did you ever see Mike Pence do anything except stare adoringly at Donald Trump? Okay, that might not be the best example. Instead, think Al Gore or even Joe Biden himself. When did you ever see Joe Biden step out ahead of Barack Obama? When did you ever hear Joe Biden speak, except for when introducing President Obama?
You never saw Biden do any more than that because the first assignment of a VP is to be seen and not heard. They are to stand dutifully by the side of the President and not do anything to upstage the man (and one day, hopefully, woman) the people elected. (And can you imagine if VP Harris were to upstage Joe Biden? I cannot even begin to imagine the names she would be called!)
What the Vice President is supposed to do is implement the President’s agenda and to follow through on the programs that have been assigned to her. Kamala Harris has been given an extensive portfolio, which reflects Biden’s trust and belief in her abilities. Just to name a few of the issues she’s been assigned to address: immigration, voting rights reform, the supply chain crisis, U.S. France relations, U.S. presence in Asia, filibuster reform, climate change policy.
In other words, the VP has been busy. Some of this we’ve seen in public when she visited heads of states in South America to address the crux of the immigration challenges at our border. Most of her work, though, has been behind closed doors. She’s still working on voting rights reform and discussing ways for a filibuster carve out to get this done. (Unfortunately, she can’t make this happen on her own — she will need all the Democratic Senators, something we should all know from Civics class.)
Listen, Kamala Harris understands the assignment. She’s working and now that the Democrats have (almost) stopped fighting among themselves about two of the most sweeping and life-impacting legislative bills to ever pass through Congress, we will be hearing more from her. We will be hearing about the fight to save voting rights in this country. We’ll be hearing more about immigration reform and what’s to be done to ease these supply chain issues. Come on, people; Kamala Harris was elected into a four-year term just like Joe Biden. We shouldn’t close the pages of this book when we’re only 25% of the way through.
I heard someone say the other day that when you break through the glass ceiling, you’re gonna get cut! That is the truth! Kamala is getting slashed from every side, cut from every corner. And she (and her team) has the scars to prove it.
I suggest we put on the brakes to all of our criticism. Our job is to rightfully hold her accountable, but to do it in the same way we would judge other VPs. Let’s not hold the first female, the first Black Vice President to a standard that is higher than anyone else! She already had to be three times better just to be where she is today.
Just hold on. I’m convinced that the best part of this story will be unveiled in the months to come.
Victoria Cristopher Murray is a New York Times Bestselling author and Political Reporter, whose love of politics has been guiding her since her mother took her into a voting booth when she was ten years old. Visit her at www.VictoriaChristopherMurray.com