“I like her but I don’t know if she can win against Trump.”
That’s the response I get when I tell people about my enthusiasm for Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and the other women running for the Democratic nomination for president. The strange thing is, I get that response most often from other women. It doesn’t come across as dismissal but rather a weariness borne from Donald Trump and the Republican Party’s constant assault on women over the past three years.
I can understand the trepidation. The women of this country had to watch while the first female major party candidate for the presidency was defeated by a man who bragged about sexual assault on camera. As demoralizing as the evening of November 8th, 2016 was, the following years have been even worse with the continual attacks on women’s reproductive freedoms and the confirmation of accused rapist Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
Yet, while all this was happening, we saw people coming out in the thousands for the nationwide women’s marches, historic numbers of women running and being elected to congress, and a historic number of women running for the Democratic party nomination.
Despite Trump’s absurd claims to the contrary, Hillary Clinton did win the popular vote by almost 3 million votes. Combined with the 1.5 million people who voted for Jill Stein, the majority of people who voted on the last election day wanted a woman to be president. The fact that we wound up with a male misogynist as president is evidence of the flaws in our political system but that’s a reason to fight harder, not compromise.
I understand the temptation to back a “safer” candidate. Joe Biden would be infinitely better than Trump. But he’s not good enough. Women shouldn’t have to settle anymore. Historically, laws and election results have followed the mood of the country, not the other way around. As long we keep saying a woman cannot be elected president, then she never will be.
Hillary seemed to anticipate this in her concession speech when she said, “to all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.”
Dr. Kelly Dittmar, a scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics at the Eagleton Institute of Politics told CNBC, “The value of having multiple women candidates is that they force us to think about women candidates in a way that is not monolithic.”
This allows us to view Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar, Tulsi Gabbard and Marianne Williamson, as individual candidates. They can be evaluated based on their policy proposals and experience without having to carry the burden of being The Woman Candidate.
Every female political victory paves the way for a new one, with the women’s wave from last year carrying over into the primaries this year. Yet these victories could not have happened if women had let fear of failure overcome their righteous anger.
We don’t have to exchange Donald Trump’s violent misogyny for Joe Biden’s more palatable chauvinism. Don’t let anyone tell you a woman can’t win. #ImStillWithHer
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