Published in “The American Bazaar” August 21, 2020
Former U.S. envoy: The world will look to Harris as an example of what is possible in America.
By M. Osman Siddique
(Editor’s note: M. Osman Siddique served as the U.S. Ambassador to Fiji, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Nauru under President Bill Clinton (1999-2001). Currently, he is active in the Biden presidential campaign, is a senior advisor to “South Asians for Biden,” and a member of “Ambassadors for Biden.” His just-released memoir Leaps of Faith is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.)
The gravity of the current economic, political, and pandemic situations cannot be sufficiently underscored. Collectively, they set the bar impossibly high for Joe Biden in the selection of his vice presidential running mate. Fortunately, he cleared it with Sen. Kamala Harris, the right choice for this momentous decision.
The broad appeal that Biden has amongst the electorate is special. The added excitement and vigor Harris brings to the ticket will be invaluable. Her Jamaican and Indian background will electrify people of all color and ethnicity, inspiring them to vote even if they have not done so in the past. She is experienced, tough, and reflects the diverse aspirations of all Americans.
This presidential election will be contentious, tribal, ugly, and, in all likelihood, challenged. Biden could have no better person by his side during this tumultuous period. Trump’s base may be monolithic, but it was not only his base that got him elected in 2016. He was helped by crossover independents, wavering Democrats, confused Republicans, and those who simply were never thrilled by Hillary Clinton. Harris has an opportunity to make inroads with all of these groups, the people Pete Buttigieg lovingly called “future former Republicans.”
Her qualifications are remarkable. Harris is a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, and the Senate Judiciary Committee. The nation saw her hard-nosed interrogation and dynamic performance during both the Kavanaugh hearings and President Trump’s impeachment trial. As a former prosecutor and attorney general of California, she fought for the rule of law without any fear or favor. She took on big oil and big banks and fought against their predatory policies. Critics of her on the left and right may disapprove of certain policies and oppose her stand on some specific issues, but no one can question her integrity and independence rooted in a belief in justice for all.
Kamala Harris has been a leading voice against the Trump administration’s policy of separating children at the border, personally joining protests at immigration shelters. During her campaign as a presidential candidate, she advocated using executive powers to reinstate and expand DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). She supports background checks for gun purchases, a ban on the sale of assault weapons, and the closing of loopholes as a sensible approach toward gun control without impairing our Second Amendment rights. She is opposed to using tariffs as a pressure tactic against countries and supports the goal of containing China, but with a changed approach. She has not only fought to defend the Affordable Care Act, but to and expand and improve it as well.
As a senator from tech-heavy California, Harris has been critical of social media companies’ handling of hate speech and misinformation. In March of this year, she walked for the last time shoulder to shoulder with the late congressman John Lewis across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama commemorating the 55th anniversary of his epic march with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Today is a red banner day for all America. How beautiful it is to see the daughter of an immigrant father from Jamaica and an immigrant mother from India poised to be the next Vice President of the United States of America. How fulfilling it is to see that this nation, built on the strength of our Constitution and the principles laid out by our Founding Fathers, has made one more giant step toward that “perfect union.”
For me, a South-Asian immigrant from Bangladesh, who had the proud distinction of carrying the U.S. flag for our nation and being the first U.S. ambassador of the Muslim faith to serve anywhere as Chief of Mission, this moment is doubly gratifying. The world will look to Harris as an example of what is possible in America.