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Clever Move

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US Democratic Party presidential candidate Joe Biden’s choice of (African) Jamaican-Indian Kamala Devi Harris as his running mate could prove the clincher in the upcoming electoral contest. This is especially so in the context of present race-related controversies raging through the country. Even though Joe Biden is leading comfortably in the opinion polls, the fact that, if elected, he would be the oldest president to take office and is just as much a ‘white man’ as the Republican incumbent, made it imperative that he do something to establish his liberal credentials. This he has done by selecting a woman with the required ‘breakthrough’ racial profile. This technically meets all the criteria of those protesting so vociferously in the streets against the ‘entrenched elite’ i.e. the privileged white folk.

If, after all this, Harris does not get the voters’ approval and fails to take Biden past the winning post, it would be proof that the ongoing protests are about something else – just a nasty expression of general discontent targeted at whoever comes handy as an ‘enemy’. (There are those among the American Right who suggest that the protests are more about protecting a ‘welfare lifestyle’, to recall the words of former President Clinton, and not based so much on political preferences.)

Another twist to the tale is the fact that Trump’s solid support among conservative middle-class Indians could take a big hit. They will now be divided on whether to support someone of Indian genes who would be breathtakingly close to the Oval Office, or stick by their emerging political profile. They would need to examine closely Harris’ position with regard to India. The last Democratic President to have won Indian hearts had been Bill Clinton, while Barak Obama had proved a considerable disappointment.

Overall, Americans would also be interested in her past performance because, with Biden’s advanced age, she could theoretically find herself in the top job at any time as America’s first woman President. She has been a district attorney, California’s Attorney General, and is a Junior Senator. This should have made her enough of an establishment person to handle the rigours of office. The only way this combination can be defeated is if ‘White America’ is polarised for some reason in favour of Trump. It is going to be a tough fight and in the coming months Harris will face a tremendous onslaught from the Right. However, if things go as expected she could prove the trump card the Democrats had been hoping for all along.