Finding hope in her ambition

In 2016, I wanted Hillary Clinton to be our next president, and I was sure that she would be.

I was devastated.

In 2019 and early 2020, I wanted a woman to win the Democratic Party’s nomination for president. Instead, one qualified woman after another failed to get enough votes, and now Joe Biden is the presumptive nominee.

I’ve been angry for some time now.

It’s not because I don’t respect Biden. I do, for his decades of public service and for his choice of a partner in Jill Biden. He is a good man who loves our country.

I’ve been angry because I’m to-the-bone tired of this movie. I’m tired of the decades — my whole lifetime — of waiting and waiting and waiting. I’m tired of these degrading notions of what a woman can and cannot do and how too many women still believe them.

I’m tired, too, of being ashamed of how the world now sees us because of this dangerous man in the White House, who is presidential in title only. I’m not alone, I know. Our collective shoulders are stooped under a burden of suffering and grief inflicted by this administration. More than 1,000 people a day are dying of COVID-19 in the U.S., a full six months after President Donald Trump declared in February that it would soon evaporate.

As of 4:07 p.m. EST on Thursday, Aug. 13, the coronavirus has killed 166,704 people in our country; more than 5.2 million have tested positive for it. On Wednesday alone, 1,486 people died of the virus that Trump has said for months is just going to magically disappear one day.

It has been a long four years.

But for the first time in many months, I feel a rumbling deep inside that is lifting me out of this weariness.

I will dare to name it.

Let’s call it hope.

Not campaign-slogan hope. Not blow-and-make-a-wish hope. This is the kind of hope that you feel only when your heart believes what your eyes can see, and it rises up inside you like a song.

What I see is the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants who will become the first Black woman and first Asian American woman to be vice president of the United States.

What I see is Sen. Kamala Harris walking onstage and standing shoulder to shoulder with Joe Biden, ready to lead.

What I see is a parting in the storm clouds, a future for our country.

Sing, heart, sing.

Her name is pronounced “comma-la,” “like the punctuation mark,” Harris wrote in her 2019 memoir, “The Truths We Hold.” “It means ‘lotus flower,’ which is a symbol of significance in Indian culture. A lotus grows underwater, its flower rising above the surface while its roots are planted firmly in the river bottom.”

On Wednesday, when it was Harris’ turn to speak on that stage in Wilmington, Delaware, her fourth sentence affirmed her pride in standing with Biden. Her next sentence made clear what she thought of all the recent punditry of misogyny wrapped in “concern” about her ambition:

“I (am) so mindful of all the heroic and ambitious women before me whose sacrifice, determination and resilience makes my presence here today even possible.”

That’s how you do this. Gnat lands on your shoulder and you flick it off.

Harris is smart and she is strong. Is she perfect? Surely not. As a progressive, do I need to fall in love with her, or Biden, to support the Democratic ticket? Please. The only politician I’ve ever had to fall in love with is the one I married — and even he’s not perfect. Thank God, I say, and mean it. Who wants to live with that?

In the hours after Harris was named as Biden’s pick for vice president, Trump did what he always does: He brayed misogyny and then reassured his fellow racists.

He called Harris “nasty” four different times and tweeted about how the “suburban housewife” will vote for him because he “ended the long running program where low income housing would invade their neighborhood.” In case his racism might slip past some of his most rabid supporters, he added that Biden would “reinstall it, in a bigger form, with (Sen. Cory) Booker in charge.”

Kamala Harris surely has an idea of the ugliness that will soon come her way. It will be worse than anyone can imagine, because there is no bottom to Trump’s desperation when he knows he’s losing.

This is her ambition.

Sing, heart, sing.


Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist.


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