In a dash of optimism on Tuesday, California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris affirmed her belief that Americans are ready for a woman of color president. Harris gave her remarks during an interview on ABC's The View, where she also promoted her book, The Truths We Hold: An American Journey.
Though she wouldn't say on the show if she would run for president herself, Harris was prompted by The View's co-host Sunny Hostin's question: "Is this country, after what [President Donald Trump] has unleashed and what we have seen, ready for the first woman of color president?"
"Absolutely," Harris replied. "Absolutely. I mean, listen, I’m not saying this about myself. I’m saying this about the capacity of the American public. We need to give the American public more credit ... Give the people more credit. They are smarter than that."
When Americans step out to vote for their next president, Harris said that they have a few fundamental concerns on their minds, including personal health, employment, being able to pay the bills, retire with dignity, and the like.
"The vast majority of us have so much in common than what separates us," Harris said on The View. "And through that lens, we look at and look to leadership." You can check out Harris' remarks, which begin at the 6:18 mark.
Harris further told The View co-hosts that people vote for political figures who appear the most relevant to them and their concerns. She said that American voters have questions for officials like "do you see me?" and "do you understand my circumstance?" Preference for one race over the other or one gender over the other is not a priority, according to Harris.
The Democrat also spoke frankly on The View about how female politicians are often subjected to "likeability" tests more so than male politicians. Harris had her own theory about this imbalance in evaluating male and female leaders in politics. "I think women are held to a different standard as a general matter," she said on The View, "and perhaps because there are just so few examples of women in these roles that people are searching for what should be the standard."
Harris added that political leaders, regardless of their gender, should be evaluated on the basis of their strengths. "They are about qualifications," she said, "they are about one’s desire to lead, [and] it is about one’s ability to actually be relevant to the people that they represent. To be innovative, to have a vision. Those should be the standards."
Harris isn't alone in criticizing how media figures and political analysts try to figure out if a female politician is charming enough or not. On Monday, Hillary Clinton also took a jab at "likeability" tests as she spoke at a Barnard College event in Manhattan, New York. "I know many of you," Clinton told her audience, "and can attest as to how smart, determined, effective, and dare I say, likable you all are."
There could be a solution. On The View, Harris mused about how to remove bias against women in politics. "If we just were unable to see the gender of those who have been leaders," she said, "we would understand that it’s not specific to gender or one’s physical presence or being. It really should be about their capacity, their willingness, their ability to lead."