close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

August 27, 2020

Election season

Opinion

August 27, 2020

US political party conventions have now concluded, and campaigns are in full swing. The country nervously moves towards November 3. Kamala Harris, senator from California and former presidential candidate herself was chosen by Joe Biden to be his running mate.

Harris with her biracial background broke many firsts – first woman of colour to be on a presidential ticket, and first child of immigrants to be selected for this position. Daughter of an immigrant mother from India and father from Jamaica, she rose in politics in California over the years, being elected attorney general of the largest state and then as US senator.

Kamala Harris' ethnic background drew much scrutiny and interest. Her father was black, and she attended the historically black Howard University in Washington DC. African Americans, and particularly women were thrilled. Yet another racial and gender barrier had been broken in US politics. The South Asian community on the other hand was not sure how they felt.

Many Pakistani-Americans were at first apprehensive of her Indian roots, while Indian- Americans were thrilled. One of their own had been chosen to be VP candidate by a major party. But, as often happens, soon more information about Kamala's political positions came to light that scrambled the traditional positions of the two South Asian communities. She had made remarks critical of PM Modi's handling of Kashmir and had refused to attend the mega ‘Howdy Modi’ rally in Houston last year. So, whether her Indian heritage will be a plus or not remains to be seen.

Last week, Democrats conducted their party convention entirely virtually, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This would normally have been a gathering of 40 or 50,000 people. It was a huge logistical challenge to pull it off well. Yet the Democrats managed to deliver a near flawless event and came close to replicating the energy of large political gatherings.

Much had been made by Republicans of 77-year-old Biden’s age and vitality. Trump repeatedly calls him ‘sleepy Joe’. Well, if there was any doubt about Biden's health and energy, it was put to rest. He delivered a highly energetic, flawless speech at the convention, laying out what was at stake in the upcoming elections. To a weary nation, weighed down by the unorthodox, often immoral behavior of the current president, he promised “end of this chapter of American darkness has begun here tonight.”

Party conventions are usually sketchy on details of the future government's plans. However, Biden shared his governing agenda in much detail – he will protect Social Security and Medicare programs that support the elderly; increase the minimum wage; reverse tax cuts given to the wealthiest; protect the environment; and rebuild relations with allies across the world that have been badly damaged.

The central theme of Biden’s speech, however, was the damage done to the country due to the Trump administration's floundering response to the pandemic. Over 175,000 Americans dead and counting, the worst in the world. And an economy badly reeling from its effects.

Trump and his team wasted no time in attacking the Democrats, saying this was “the darkest, most hateful convention ever”. He called Kamala Harris, “nasty”, his favourite label for confident, articulate women. He added “they showed how much they hate America”. Those of us watching must have missed that part!

The next day VP Mike Pence was on national television questioning why Democrats are making such a big deal of Covid-19. “The pandemic is well under control and getting better”. As Biden said, this November “character, compassion, decency, science and democracy” will be on the ballot.

The writer is a freelance contributor based in Washington DC.

Website: www.sqshareef.com/blogs