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Kamala Harris: look back on a special year with the Vice President of the United States

When Kamala Harrisvice president of the United States, learns that the Supreme Court has just overturned the decision Turnip v. ford, jurisprudence guaranteeing the right to abortion throughout the territory of the United States, her first instinct is to call her husband. “I was furious, I said to myself ‘it’s not true, they dared'” she tells us, sitting behind her desk in the White House. “I first had to free myself from anger. Then, she continues, I assembled my team and we discussed the scope of the event and the way forward. I was going to an event about maternal mortality, but these two topics are closely related. Those who were up against the right to abortion remain completely silent about the fact that every day in the United States women die from causes related to their birth,” she says indignantly.

The annulment of the sentence Turnip v. ford June last year was one of the most significant upheavals of her term as deputy chairman. Launched in the wake of the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, it is now halfway through, giving us an opportune opportunity to take stock of progress. One of its greatest achievements is certainly the publication of The Marriage Act, a law protecting same-sex marriage in all states, the urgency of which was felt after Clarence Thomas — the conservative judge who turned the abortion ban into a personal crusade — threatened to take on marriage for all. “These are the same people who are attacking reproductive rights and who are attacking the right to vote,” says Kamala Harris. “In any case, this is what pushed us to act, fortunately with success.” During the ceremony that accompanied the signing of this text, the Vice President declared to the crowd gathered to celebrate this legislative progress: “It is because you’ve heard yourself that your marriages are now better protected! And it was your mobilization that made Joe Biden win!”

Kamala Harris at the Naval Observatory, residence of the Vice President, on January 13, 2023.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

“I want to make sure that I lead the way and that others follow in my footsteps”

When I see her sitting at her desk, I think about the treatment that the media – but more generally society – gives to women in power. Because the one I have before me is undoubtedly a powerful woman whom a twist of fate could at any time turn into the president of the first world power. She is the first woman, the first black woman and the first person of Asian descent to hold this position. But our interlocutor is used to being the first: she was the first female district attorney in San Francisco and the first female attorney general in California (in reality, this role is similar to that of a statewide attorney general). “In this year of grace 2022, it is shameful that we are still the first”, she exclaimed, recalling the words of her mother, who, while congratulating her on the status of “first”, charged her to do everything possible not to be the “last”. “That’s why I want to make sure that I lead the way and that others follow in my footsteps,” she explains.

Despite her impressive record of service, it seems to me during our interview that the Vice President is doing her best to put me at ease. Thus, Kamala Harris is much more agreeable and generous than any man who would occupy comparable positions. In his office, the atmosphere is not entirely calm, and the team shows an obsessive attention to detail. No one tells me so explicitly, but you can tell from the care and precision given to the smallest gesture, to the smallest word, that Kamala Harris’ success goes beyond her personal cause. The precursor syndrome sticks to his skin. When she speaks, her words are scrutinized; let it say nothing and it will be interpreted with equal distrust. This dilemma permeates her universe: being the first is not easy.

However, the interview begins quite casually with an informal discussion of wedding photos, which incidentally leads me to mention my mother, the feminist writer Erica Jong. “Is that your mother?” » she says excitedly, « I am never kept informed about anything here! During the interview, we will discuss current political issues, such as immigration, the success of the Democrats in the midterm elections, but also his relationship with Joe Biden. She will confess in passing to someone else first: what about her husband Doug Emhoffwho is Jewish, they placed a mezuzah on the door frame of the Naval Observatory, the residence of the vice presidents.





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