by Alina Lovasz
The 2020 presidential election was like no other in the history of our country. In an almost three-month-long period from election night to what will be the presidential inauguration, our deeply divided nation has been living the life of uncertainty fueled by new lawsuits, recounting ballots, allegations of fraud, and the President’s stubborn refusal to concede. The ugly side of politics caught up with all of us in 2020, only adding to the misery of the year marked by the doom of the pandemic claiming the lives of millions of people around the globe. With the holidays upon us, rather than focusing on the outrageous and depressing side of the presidential election of 2020, pointing out the positive, uplifting “firsts” seems lighter and more season-appropriate.
First, President-elect Joe Biden’s choice of a running mate shattered gender and racial barriers. Kamala Harris is only the fourth woman in the United States history nominated for the office of vice president and the very first woman of color. That might be true for now, but the “firsts” of Harris’ nomination hardly end here. It is highly plausible that four years from now if Joe Biden decides not to run for reelection due to his advanced age, she will lead the Democratic Party to the next presidential election, which would be another historical “first” as America has never had a woman president. In her victory speech, Ms. Harris mentioned her immigrant mother and the generations of women of all races whose collective effort brought her to this moment by saying “While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last- because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.”
Since it is the first time in U.S history that the woman takes over the duties of vice president, her husband, Doug Emhoff, becomes a first male spouse of a vice president, which makes him the first ever “second gentleman.” Some might wonder what a successful lawyer like Mr. Emhoff would do with his newly acquired position. According to ABC’s Will Jackson, “While the spouse of the US president doesn’t have a codified or officially defined role, they generally take on prominent ceremonial duties and often use their position to influence causes and issues of particular interest to them.” The incoming first “second gentleman,” a prominent lawyer himself, already stated in the interview for the ABC News that he would focus on issues involving access to justice.
The “firsts” of the 2020 presidential election are not exclusive to humans. Major Biden, the President-Elect’s beloved German Shepherd will be the first shelter pet to ever reside in the White House. Andrew Hager, director at the Presidential Pet Museum, told CBS News that “Major would be the first dog in the White House that “directly came from an animal rescue.” According to Hager before Mr. Biden, President Lyndon B. Johnson also had a rescue animal in the White House. But, unlike Major, his dog, Yuki was a lost pet that was given as a gift from Johnson’s daughter. According to CBS News, Major was first fostered, then adopted by President-Elect Biden two years ago from the Delaware Humane Association an animal shelter in Wilmington. Major will be accompanied by his “brother” Champ, another German Shepherd owned by the Bidens.