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UCR Panel Breaks Down the Significance of the Biden-Harris Administration

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U.C. Riverside held a virtual panel Wednesday afternoon with experts and university leaders to talk through expectations around the Biden-Harris administration, including the specific influence two women might have. 

U.C. Riverside political science Professor Dr. Jennifer Merolla says she hopes that Kamala Harris’ historic rise to the office of the vice presidency will not only bring a unique perspective to the table but also have an effect on children.

"There’s some academic research that’s been done that asks young children to draw a political leader, and the vast majority draw a man," said Merolla. "That’s kind of what they have in their head when they draw a political leader. But Kamala Harris’ election to the vice presidency may shift how girls, and especially those of color, imagine the political space and will encourage more engagement in the future.”

Merolla also notes that due to the 50-50 political party makeup of the Senate, we could see Vice President Harris play a much bigger role than her predecessors as the tie-breaking vote.

Another influential woman could be first lady Dr. Jill Biden, says U.C.R. Dean Dr. Jennifer Brown. While the first lady, an educator, is not an official member of the administration, Brown thinks her presence could be helpful, especially as President Biden works to addresses the issue of COVID-19 on the education system.

“It is one [issue] that effects every single kid in this nation at every single level, and the impacts of what we will have to think through in terms of deficit…and I hope that the Biden administration focuses on what are the long-term ramifications and impacts” said Brown.

Other panel speakers addressed President Biden’s proposed plans to increase green infrastructure and technology, and how current California policies could provide inspiration for future federal laws.