By Ravindra Gunasekara –
Some are hopeful, others fear, and the rest dumbfounded upon the arrival of vice president-elect Kamala Harris. She has been the heyday topic among many far east countries during and after the US Presidential election. When it comes to this part of the world, Sri Lanka fears, particularly over the role of her big neighbor India and, this time our guest has an ancient origin in Chennai, Tamil Nadu in which the struggle for self determination for Tamils has located in response to the North-East conflict in Sri Lanka. The U.S interests in the world map of economic and geo-political realities, the rise of possible superpower China, Sino-India relations and, finally, Sri Lanka, a desperate facilitator in between three giant industries – a complex deal in a diverse structure. However, the outcome is, neither adventurous nor hilarious because, apart from all visible variables, there is a great factor to be considered.
Struggle for Power
Born to a biomedical scientist mother from Madras, India and an economics professor father at Stanford University from Jamaica, Kamala Harris was a privileged child in a prestigious family. However, she has faced to many difficulties during her childhood: probably the hardest is the divorce of her parents when she was seven and, moving to Montreal, Canada at the age of twelve where she was taught in French speaking primary schools. More seriously, the intolerable gap between black and white at which she and her sister were not allowed to play in the neighborhood because they were black. According to her story, none of these discouraged her, instead, she had influences and insights: these came from her mother who introduce Hinduism for Harris sisters, her grandfather who had progressive views on democracy and women’s rights and moreover from black movements in the U.S such as Black Law Students Association where she served as president and so on.
Graduated in economics and political science and, later by studying law at the University of California, Kamala Harris rose to District Attorney of San Francisco in 2004 and Attorney General of California in 2011 and, the U.S Senator from California since 2017. In comparison to the story of President-elect Joe Biden’s fifty-year struggle for power, Kamala Harris has succeeded within twenty years of strategic mission, being an outsider to the U.S politics and a member of a marginalized community. In politics, nothing prepared for you; if you assumed so, sorry to be dramatic that you will be soon wiped out. Colors of her dream in politics have been designated so meticulously and applied deliberately – you might see it and feel but it is almost impossible to imagine the laws behind. Kamala Harris is undefeatable maneuver in an unparalleled path for power; perhaps, she would be the hottest model in politics – she knows the focal point and the story starts here.
Bureaucracy and democracy
Pardon me in this old discussion, I am not in a position to pass-up it due to a fundamental reason. Let us begin with this; how do you explain United States? The guardian of freedom and democracy, the greatest explorer in the Century, the smartest guy in the city of world states etc. I, as an enthusiastic in democracy, admit to look at the U.S as a government by the people. We have been bored by reading the fundamentals of democracy but unaware in its integral arm, the bureaucracy which plays a key role in managing standards of democracy. Unfortunately, a limited number of literatures recommend bureaucracy as an essential component of democracy, but bureaucracy does. Sociologist Max Weber in his theory of ideal bureaucracy has categorically explained the non-bureaucratic leadership or democratic guidance as an indispensable element in a successful bureaucracy. In this sense, bureaucracy operates with its fundamentals assigned but under the purview of representative authorities. In the emerging countries, this principle has been utterly violated with semi-feudal or quasi-democratic regimes in which bureaucracy is enslaved into a role of sub-servant for political gains. As a result, many changing nations remain emerging or failed states in the absence of considerable growth in politics and administration.
The relationship between bureaucracy and democracy has been magnificently interconnected in many developed countries. Some scholars argue that these countries are more bureaucratic than democratic, or they have heavily been commanded under bureaucratic iron law during the first industrial revolution. Moreover, political rights and labor standards were completely banned unleashing the relationship between capitalists and workers into the principle of exploitation. However, nearly two centuries after in the dawn of forth industrial revolution, freedom and democratic rights are brighter than ever despite cultural or physical boundaries in the developed world. In the meantime, they are, surprisingly, bureaucratic at which every action in the advanced societies is guided by a set of rules and regulations: whether it is private or public institution, task over serious issue or minor matter, pertaining to natives or migrants, the action is certain and everybody aware about the procedures, institutions and the people. They do not complain about the procedures and practices available to lead them; instead, they love it, because they have been trained for it from the kindergarten. Therefore, the bureaucracy disinfected by a democratic observation is not a red tape for rational actions, it is a beacon light to ensure the correct path of democratic governance. This equilibrium of bureaucracy and democracy appears every single decision making in the politico-administrative affairs of advanced societies in which run-way tongues and actions have little or no room until they are affected by reasons.
Professionalism in politics
In the above context, the Asian-Jamaican origin of Kamala Harris would not be affected by desires ignited on primary factors such as kinship, religion or ethnicity. But there is a context affected by reason: her long-run intent to stand for human rights and marginalized communities. However, one of them would be effective until it directly comes to the U.S agenda of national interests. Perhaps, they may already there but this time the U.S requires a more strategic map to deal with the problems of market fundamentalism and the geo-political realities in South Asian. Therefore, the traditional U.S police state may significantly disappear and a more soft project for power with sincere requests and pinches readily available for the new road map of global power.
Needless to say that 2024-28 will be more critical years for Kamala Harris to accomplish her relatively quick but deliberately planned run for post-presidency. Even though Joe Biden led administration prepared a massive strategic mission with the great support of U.S think tanks, Kamala Harris has multiple challenges to confront. Among them, the declining neo-liberal world order and the need of a rapid action to ensure democratic standards would be the thought-provoking mission in the century, according to many scholars. In this sense, Kamala Harris needs a master project and a massive task force from all over the world to be the guardian of liberal democracy, if succeeded, she will be the true heroine of 167 democratic nations nearly 75 per cent of the world population.
*Ravindra Gunasekara teaches Politics and Administration at the Department of Political Science of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka.