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What could be the Agenda for Kamala Harris, Vice President- Elect?


The intense, 24x7 consultations now on between President- Elect Biden and his principal advisers, including The Vice President- Elect will surely include a series of conversations on the specific role and responsibilities of Kamala Harris. In fact, this must be a key part of the internal, and very private, discussions.

How can she best support the President? Which part of the enormous load can she shoulder? What are her strengths (and weaknesses)? As a woman of color, what part can she play which would be helpful? As a Woman Vice President (the first ever), what can she bring to the table? What process is right for her to shadow the President And, other questions.

First, and quite crucial, is Learning - on the job. And, learning about all parts of the job. This is a huge task and time-consuming, energy-sapping process. Harris, like anyone else becoming Vice President will have much to understand, register and absorb.

Second, should her focus be essentially Domestic because the challenges at home are massive and have to be tackled effectively. And, within “Domestic”, which pieces are to be her principal responsibilities? There could be specific priority areas allocated to her to add value.

Third, as a Vice President of color, there has to be an automatic responsibility to help address the challenge of Racism. The TINA factor applies. Racism, and connected tensions is at the forefront of public debate in America and there is no question that she will be expected to play a serious, sincere and sustained part in the healing process.

Fourth, in a very similar way, she has to be representative of American women in The White House. She is their Spokesperson. She is their “Connect”. The President-Elect is already showing his deep commitment to place Women in positions of high responsibility. It’s started with the choice of the Vice President and continues with many others. The Vice President-Elect will have to play a central role.

Fifth, and this is crucial, what is the President’s comfort level in terms of delegation to her? What does he want her to focus on? No question, the President will be a guide and mentor in whatever tasks are assigned to the Vice President but there will be space and scope for her to show her talent and ability.

Sixth, will she play a minimal role in International Affairs or will she do more than a protocol role? Or more? Africa? The Caribbean? Pacific Islands? Much healing needed globally and she can play a part, very usefully. Though Domestic challenges are immense, the Vice President is expected to play her part in the realm of Foreign Policy and National Security.

Seventh, because of her professional legal experience, involvement in matters concerning the Judiciary, Justice and Legal Affairs. There are many issues of concern and, as the incoming President turns his attention to matters of Law and Justice, the Vice President will probably play a significant role in framing the agenda.

Eighth, Youth. The future of America. To take their development and growth as a special Mission. Build citizenship for the next 50 years, build Leaders with Values. This is a critical area for personal attention by her, not only because today’s Youth are tomorrow’s Leaders, but also because her connect with them will give her strong political mileage.

Ninth, the Native American community. Their situation. Support and care for them. This has been a neglected area and of much concern to many. It may not be a glamorous agenda but it is of high priority calling for attention from the Vice President.

These are some thoughts and ideas without any access to what is being discussed internally. Of course, she will also have her duties in the Senate, a very major role, dealing especially, everyday, with the deep political divide. Kamala Harris is a relatively young Vice President-Elect. If she performs well privately and publicly, she is clearly positioned to be the first Woman President of the United States of America. Many will want her to fail. Many will want her to succeed. The world will watch her keenly.

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©2020 by Tarun Das and Ishan Roy.