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Biden-Kamala win lesson in humility and service to society

By Sammy Kwinga | November 12th 2020

Whoever becomes the head resident of the White House at 12:30pm on January 20, 2021 is a province of the gods. But we know who the American people would rather have.

After a gruelling contest in the US presidential election, former Vice President Joe Biden triumphed over President Donald Trump by securing both the popular vote and a majority in the Electoral College that would, as a routine, determine the next occupant of the While House on December 14.

To say it was a hard-fought victory will be an understatement. While Trump has declared he would move to the Supreme Court to challenge the victory, which he claims without evidence was rigged, it is important that Kenyans and their leaders draw lessons from the poll.

The win has underscored the importance of being respectful to the boss and always being subservient regardless of whether one has ambitions of their own.

It is not lost that the "bromance" between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto no longer exists.

Ruto has ignored his boss' call for politicians to shelves campaigns and instead focus on service delivery. He is clearly selling his agenda for 2022.

He has opposed the handshake deal between President Uhuru and ODM leader Raila Odinga, which the leaders say he was aware of, and claimed that the Building Bridges Initiative's sole target is to block his presidential bid.

Compare the Uhuru-Ruto relationship to Biden and former President Barack Obama which blossomed during their eight year-rule. It defied the inevitable challenges that come with any relationship between two people to become deeply personal. As a governing partner, Biden’s loyalty was unquestionable, the age difference between them notwithstanding.

He was always at his service, especially in undertaking critical missions outside of the US, including in hotspots such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

For his loyalty and friendship, one of Obama's last acts as President was to award a surprised Biden with the Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award.

"To Joe Biden, the scrappy kid from Scranton who became Delaware’s favourite son," Obama said during a speech in January 2017. "You were the first decision I made as a nominee, and it was the best. Not just because you have been a great vice president, but because in the bargain, I gained a brother. We love you and Jill like family and your friendship has been one of the greatest joys of our lives."

Obama and Biden also teach us that patience pays and that unbridled ambitions should not blind us and work against achieving our ambitions.

As Uhuru has variously stated, he was all but ready to fulfil his pre-2013 promise to campaign for Ruto after his second term, but he is now non-committal on that stand. He recently said his deputy was running in the opposite direction instead of waiting for him to pass the baton as happens in a relay.

Despite running for the presidency twice and his age advancing, the US President-elect was comfortable bidding his time and he has finally been rewarded.

Many Kenyans may not be aware that Biden was ready to contest for the top job four years ago but he was persuaded by Obama not to. While Obama said he was not comfortable with a Biden run because he had recently suffered a personal tragedy following the death of his son Beau and thus should take time to heal, it was also true that the former President favoured Hillary Clinton.  

The decision has proven to have been the right one as Clinton was among the first to endorse his 2022 run while Obama actively campaigned for him in last-ditch efforts to win votes in crucial swing states, drawing in the youth, women and black American votes that made all the difference in the narrow contest.

-Mr Kwinga is a political scientist. [email protected]  

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