For Kamala Harris, questions on legacy begin now


Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Google’s A.I. ethics scandal continues, the Atlanta Dream might get a brand new proprietor, and for Kamala Harris, a historic inauguration was the straightforward half. Have a terrific Thursday.

– What’s subsequent? Yesterday was a time for People and political observers around the world to obsess over the historical past, the pageantry, and “radical normalcy” of the Biden-Harris inauguration: the symbolic fashion, the stirring verse, the wholesome, meme-ified mittens. However because the fireworks fizzled over D.C., what remained was the four-headed monster of a disaster going through the brand new administration.

In fact, the Biden-Harris administration is absolutely conscious of the unprecedented scenario it finds itself in; taking energy within the midst of an out-of-control pandemic, a recession, a local weather disaster, and a fierce battle for racial justice and racial fairness. “Few intervals in our nation’s historical past have been more difficult or troublesome than the one we’re in now,” President Joe Biden said in his inaugural handle.

In swearing her oath to workplace, Vice President Kamala Harris, in purple and pearls, vowed to tackle these challenges. And as arguably probably the most influential VP in historical past and the Senate tie-breaker, she could also be seen as extra accountable than her predecessors for the result of the administration’s agenda.

However these 4 coinciding crises, as gigantic as they’re, should not the one headwinds going through Harris. The query of private legacy normally comes up close to the top of an administration, however the history-making nature of Harris’s tenure means she should take care of that matter instantly. Harris has already vowed to not be the final feminine vice chairman, however guaranteeing the path she’s blazed doesn’t go chilly relies upon as a lot on what Harris can management—her coverage portfolio, her championing and hiring of different ladies, her public profile—because it does on what she will be able to’t: how still-skeptical People understand her.

Like different ladies who are ‘firsts’ or ‘onlys’ in their field, she might be unfairly seen as a litmus take a look at for whether or not any girl, anyplace can do the job. Being a girl of coloration, which topics her to racist double requirements, solely raises the bar she should clear.

Harris has been tasked with threading this seemingly unattainable needle earlier than in her profession, albeit on levels considerably smaller than the one she descended onto yesterday. The stakes are huge this time round, and Harris’s method is completely different. As Politico reports, Harris used to seek advice from being a ‘first’ as “the donkey within the room”—as a result of she’s a Democrat, get it?—and tried to deflect from the topic. However now, she’s embracing the descriptor.

In that sense, she’s heeding the recommendation Valerie Jarrett, a senior Obama aide, has for the brand new vice chairman who’s in uncharted territory with few guideposts, going through a number of nationwide crises, and bearing the burden of historical past—all whereas considering her personal profession development.

“[Be] true to what drove you into public service within the first place,” Jarrett told Politico. “Then that ought to encourage you to not maintain again, however to push.”

Claire Zillman
[email protected]

Immediately’s Broadsheet was curated by Emma Hinchliffe