Harris leads record wave of elected women changing face of US politics


Washington, Nov 15 (AFP/APP):With Kamala Harris poised to become the first female vice president of the United States, and with a record number of women elected to Congress — including more Republicans than ever — considerable history will be made when they all take office in January.

The 56-year-old Harris, a senator, former prosecutor and the running mate of President-elect Joe Biden, will notch a slew of firsts when she is sworn in on January 20: as the first US female vice president and the first Black in that position, as well as the first person of South Asian descent.

“Together, we showed little girls across the country what’s possible,” she said Friday on Twitter. It was the latest echo of a speech Hillary Clinton delivered in 2016 in recognizing her defeat by Donald Trump. “I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling” — that of the White House — “but someday someone will, and hopefully sooner than we might think,” the defeated Democratic candidate said.

Clinton then directed these words of encouragement to the country’s “little girls”: “Never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.” Since Clinton pronounced those words four years ago, women have transformed the face of American politics — both in Congress and, soon, in the White House. “With Kamala Harris, a lot of glass ceilings were shattered in one day,” said Amy Dacey, a former chief executive of the Democratic National Committee now at American University.

Ron Klain, whom Biden has named as his chief of staff, has said Harris will play a “significant” role, Dacey noted. “And I think (Biden will) bring in a lot of women at all levels of the administration.” Analysts expect Biden to appoint either progressive senator Elizabeth Warren or Federal Reserve official Lael Brainard, a former Treasury undersecretary, to head the Treasury — a position never filled by a woman. The United States might also see its first woman secretary of defense.

Michele Flournoy, a former Pentagon number three, has been frequently mentioned. There are only two women in the Trump cabinet: transportation secretary Elaine Chao and education secretary Betsy DeVos.

Several women have served Trump as senior advisors or as White House spokesperson. But the Republican billionaire has also frequently sparked controversy with insulting or sexist comments about women. In October, he referred to Harris as a “monster.”

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