How Kamala Harris’ historic VP role will impact the future of American politics

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Kamala Harris made waves this week by becoming the first female, first Black and first South Asian Vice President of the United States.

While her win was a historic moment for America, many are now wondering if the change will be permanent – or will the so-called “white male club” of national politics continue.

To get a better insight into this, WCBS 880 anchor Wayne Cabot spoke with Penn State University Professor Nikki Gutgold, who is the author of an upcoming book titled, “When Women Run, Women Win: Electing Madam Vice President.”

In her book, she explores the role of women in national politics and she believes that Harris’ win with President Joe Biden is likely to reshape American politics moving forward.

“I think that young girls and many women around the country are looking at her historic win and thinking that it's possible now,” she tells Cabot. “Now, of course, she didn't win the presidency, but she is now closer to the presidency than any woman in American history. And I think that it's going to have an effect of more and more women running. And it's just a numbers game – when we have as many women running as men, then we're likely to elect more women.”

Though, she acknowledges that just because Harris has been elected, that doesn’t mean that all gender biases will disappear overnight.

“We can't say that all the gender barriers are coming down because we now have a woman who's a vice president, just like we have racial injustice that exists, even though we've had a man, who is Black, serve as president,” Gutgold said. “However, I think we can say that we have, now, more people running who do not fit the white male prototype – whether they are women or people of color – and so, it's a sample of one because we've only had one man elected president who's Black, we now have one woman who's Black, who's vice president, and yet it's opening the gate. It's not ending injustice, but it is opening the gate.”

The Penn State University professor says that Harris will also help get younger people involved in politics since she has a youthful energy about her.

“I think she's very hip and cool,” Gutgold said. “I think she has somewhat of a casual, California cool demeanor in the way she speaks.
She often starts your speeches with, ‘Hey, Oakland.’ She's not a stuffy, formal, old politician. She's hip, she's young in her demeanor, she is cool.”

Gutgold notes that while Harris may not have been able to win the presidency on her own, the fact that she was elected Vice President shows a significant shift in the country all ready, and signifies that even more change is going to continue to come.

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