The blessed Judy Murray, unofficial patron saint of sportswomen everywhere, has a mantra: “if you can see it, you can be it.” That sentiment was echoed in a modest parking lot in America in the middle of our weekend night, when Kamala Harris, shiny new Vice President elect, told her country’s children that she was proof positive of the possibilities that lay within all of them. Even if other people failed to see it.
She is the woman who has shattered the stained glass ceiling of multi-coloured, multi cultural America, even as angry white men rage against the dying of their day. About to be ex President Trump called her a monster. Perhaps he was looking in the mirror at the time.
This prolonged, at times agonising, US election has shone a spotlight on many feisty, bright, undervalued, underestimated women. Stacey Abrams, who got cheated out of the Georgian governorship by a ruthless opponent who closed down polling stations in her heartland.
Stacey didn’t just get mad, she got even. Mounting such an impressive voter registration operation, that historically red and red-necked Georgia is now the subject of a recount. If Joe Biden wants a woman in his cabinet who takes no sh*t from anyone, she’s his gal.
Then there’s the so-called Squad. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, an archetypal straight talking New Yorker, surely destined for high office one day. Currently serving time as her party’s liberal conscience. Ilhan Omar in Minnesota, the subject of the most virulent anti Muslim Presidential tirades. She responded by knocking on so many doors that her State flipped back into the Democratic fold.
Along with Rashida Tlaib in Michigan, and Avanna Pressley in Massachusetts, they have shaken up the House of Representatives with courage and eloquence. They’re all back in Congressional business along with some more of the sisterhood.
White wimmin stepped up to the plate too. Like Elizabeth Warren, whose campaign battle cry was “I have a plan for that”, and who will surely be found a role to match her forensic skills.
Meanwhile we can bid an unfond farewell to Betsy DeVos at Education; emblematic of the Trump era policy of putting wreckers into the departments Secretaries of State are supposed to nourish and defend.
Goodbye and special good riddance to Daddy’s girl, Ivanka, poster child for a family who milked power for personal gain, illegally and shamelessly mixing the political and the commercial. As they say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Normally I could muster at least a smidgin of sympathy for politicians who have just lost power. For team Trump I am happy to make an exception.
Like it or not, what America does and says impacts on the rest of the world, and the UK is no exception. Boris Johnson is about to find out what happens when you hitch your star to the wrong wagon. And when the driver of the new one has very definitely got your number. Nicola Sturgeon will not be unhappy she made it crystal clear that there was no welcome mat for Mary MacLeod’s rogue son back in the old country.
Let’s not forget in this roll of dishonour Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary wont to intone how important it was to maintain good relations with the outgoing President. Or little Mr Gove, captured for eternity in Trump’s office grinning like the cat who finally located the cream when uncle Rupert fixed for him to interview The Donald. These fairweather groupies are amongst the Trump era detritus washed up on the shores of a new, New World.
Already, of course, the 24/7 career cynics have moved in, raking around in Biden’s bin for evidence that he is really just another right wing re-tread. They would do well to watch Van Jones reaction on CNN. A black broadcaster who wept on camera at the thought his family might be accorded more respect and dignity now that Biden was moving into the White House.
There are also people on social media arguing that a more progressive opposition to Biden has to get itself up and running right now. Two months before his inauguration! They, I would direct to recent political history in UK elections. And the “triumph” of urging electoral support for project Corbyn. Get real guys. America is a very different, very complex series of states and nations. Navigating that complexity with enough skill to unseat a malevolent, manipulative sitting President is no mean political feat. Joe Biden is not the second coming. But, crucially, he is not Donald Trump.
And his victory has to be an exceptionally hopeful moment for a country almost broken beyond repair. America; divided, angry, dispirited America has elected a President who understands how to deal with grief, for it has stalked his personal life. It has elected a second in command who has lived through the worst that racist elements could throw at her, and emerged a heartbeat away from the top job. She needs no lessons on why black lives matter.
Those who know America well, who’ve studied her over many electoral cycles, know that this is not a country which would have elected an overtly radical ticket. It is a country with an attitude to religion most UK politicians would find uncomfortable, and by which many UK voters would be repelled. A country where swathes of the population equate personal freedom with the right to bear personal arms – at which all UK voters would baulk.
Yet last week enough American electors were motivated to bring to an end one of the most disgraceful periods in their presidential history. So let us congratulate them. Let us celebrate with them. Let us offer heartfelt thanks to them. And let us give them the chance to start that essential healing.