Speculation over, as well as tamping down expectations for, the Democratic Party candidate for President in 2020 has begun in earnest. Spurred on by Russian and Trump trolls, social media and news media outlets have begun attacking potential candidates with special relish in demeaning comments about powerful women.
“No Women. After Hillary, we need to look for a white male from Middle America.”
“We can’t have anyone—especially a woman—from New York or California.”
“Not Kamala. We need a white male.”
“We have to have a white male candidate.”
“If Democrats are to stand a chance, they have to run a white male candidate for president.”
“She is abrasive and shrill.”
“She is aloof.”
“She’s not someone you’d want to have a beer with.”
The first question New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was asked after announcing her candidacy for President was about her “likeability.”
Senator Amy Klobuchar recently joined a strong group of women candidates vying for the 2020 presidential election. Almost immediately, reports of her “abuse” of staff came out in numerous media outlets. “She is a hard boss.” “She is just mean to her staff.” “Mean to her staff?” Really?
This criticism sounds a lot like what we’ve heard before: she “does not smile enough.” “She comes off as too stiff.” “She is weak.” “She comes off as too strong.” “Another pantsuit?” “Her voice is too harsh.” “Her voice is strident.” “She is unlikable.” “She is not good-looking enough.”
Of course, these sexist comments are aided and abetted by the manipulative liar-in-chief, Donald J. Trump who said at one of his rallies, “Pocahontas is not happy, she’s not happy. She’s the worst. You know, Pocahontas — I’m doing such a disservice to Pocahontas, it’s so unfair to Pocahontas — but this Elizabeth Warren, I call her ‘goofy,’ Elizabeth Warren, she’s one of the worst senators in the entire United States Senate” (6/2/2016).
Unfortunately, Trump’s behavior and ugly, idiotic words have been repeated, even excused by media sources as esteemed as The Washington Post: “Donald Trump likes to give nicknames to his critics” (June 28, 2016).
Again and again, we read or hear, “I’m fine with a woman for president, just not this woman.” In fact, not any of these women, apparently because they all have several attributes in common: high intelligence, personal and political strength, legislative successes, vast professional knowledge, and experience in government. In the eyes of too many Trump voters, all of those attributes would be disqualifying for one simple reason: they are women. Op eds and opinions as to whom should be the Democratic candidate are flowing in a torrent with about as much reason and sound analysis as you would expect from a second grader or the current illegitimate inhabitant of the White House. “No women?” Huh? Did anyone notice the make-up of the newly elected members of the House of Representatives? Did political commentators take due notice of the fact that the greatest number of women leaders in our history have just been sworn to take their seats in the House? Have any of these sexist commentators noticed the Women’s marches of 2017, 2018, and 2019, the largest civil demonstrations in recent memory?
If not ready for a woman President–if they have yet to reckon with women taking charge, this next election is going to hit sexist voters like a brick wall, not the glass ceiling that will very likely shatter into a thousand little pieces.
Nancy Avery Dafoe