In her first appearance alongside presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris of California hit every note a vice presidential pick must hit.
"I am ready to get to work," Harris said at the outset of her speech, after thanking Biden for the honor of being his running mate. "I am ready to get to work," she repeated again, with a determination that left no doubt, she means business.
Then Harris got to work making the case against her Republican rivals. "Let me tell you, as somebody who has presented my fair share of arguments in court, the case against Donald Trump and Mike Pence is open and shut," Harris charged, buoyed by the weight of her decades-long career as a prosecutor.
In some ways, Trump has made it easy on Harris with his ceaselessly incompetent pandemic response resulting in 165,000 American deaths and counting, at least 16 million people out of work, surging homelessness, complete chaos on reopening schools, and 1 in 5 U.S. households left hungry.
"It didn't have to be like this," she noted, harkening back to the Ebola epidemic of 2014. "But you know what happened then? Barack Obama and Joe Biden did their job. Only two people in the United States died. Two."
The only thing left to do was inspire—easier said than done in an empty gym with nothing but an audience of TV cameras. But inspire she did, starting with a humanizing moment every non-Trumper could relate to.
"I’ll admit, over the past four years, there have been moments when I’ve worried about our future," Harris said. "But whenever I’ve had my doubts, I think of you—the American people," she added, giving a shout out to frontline medical workers; essential workers like truck drivers, grocery store employees, and farm workers; and all the justice fighters "of every age, and color, and creed" out in the streets "finally declaring in one voice that, yes, Black Lives Matter."
These are the cries for justice and the chants of hope she was raised on, Harris said, "And trust me: It's a song you never forget." So to everyone in the fight, she offered, "You are doing something. You are doing something great. You are the heroes of our time."
This was the moment of spiritual uplift so many Americans desperately needed as Trump, Pence, and Republicans bleed the country dry through their war of attrition. People are suffering, tens of millions are out of work, hungry, tired, frightened, and searching for a path forward. Their ticket to endure the next several months is hope, and Harris handed it to them.
Harris is formidable, competent, and a force to be reckoned with—all qualities that any VP pick must exude. But perhaps most importantly at this particularly dismal moment in American history, she embraced the country's collective struggle and assured us that we are the bridge to a better future.
Harris did plenty in her speech, but if all she had accomplished was making people believe again, that would have been enough. It's the magic that's been missing after the drudgery of four years mired in Trump.