This is so personal to me. It’s not that I wanted *any* woman to be president. While I wanted *this* woman to be president, that’s not even the point. It cuts me to the bone. I’m mourning right now. It’s important to understand that Hillary Clinton’s loss, and now the loss of all viable female candidates this year, feels like a direct and personal attack for many women in this country – especially while we are watching our rights get chipped away at.
I imagine that when the last non-white candidate dropped out, it may have felt similar for minority voters.
This is not about all the reasons Warren should have won, or should be president, or this or that. This is about the misogyny surrounding our presidential contests and the fact that it hurts.
One of the things that cut me so deeply in 2016 – and a lot of other women, for sure – was that there was no stone unturned, no fault unexamined, and no benefit of the doubt given to a highly qualified presidential candidate; opposite her was a dumpster fire of a person with literally no redeeming qualities and all the same faults tenfold, and he got the benefit of the doubt, his skeletons were largely left in the closet (and when Hillary dared point them out, she was mocked by right and left alike), and he beat her. Yes, he lost the popular vote, but it was too close.
Whatever hatred you have for Hillary Clinton, you cannot look at her and look at Donald Trump and say that he should be president over her. You can look at her in an existential way and say that perhaps Trump has goosed the progressive movement or awakened the sleeping masses, but tell that to the children in cages, the people of Puerto Rico, the planet, etc. What we needed to happen was for Hillary to win and have to spend four years answering to the Bernie faction of the party; not a total regression. And to boot, Trump managed to continue to be the warmonger everyone thought Hillary would be, so you can tell that to the people of Iran, the people of Syria, and countless others.
We don’t have the same situation today losing Warren, but there are parallels to be drawn. The left has a misogyny problem, and women who bring that up are routinely shut down. It’s not that other political alignments aren’t misogynist; it’s that the left pretends it doesn’t have that problem. It’s the male feminist who can be the most dangerous – sometimes drowning out the woman in the room, propping up their own leaders as what’s best for women, etc.
It’s that Trump calling her “Pocahontas” over and over was going to seal the deal for a Trump victory, but his nicknames for Bernie wouldn’t. That she sounds condescending and scolding when she speaks about all her plans and the culture of corruption, but Bernie sounds exciting while he’s screaming at everyone in power and yelling vagueries at his audience. If Elizabeth (and by chance, all women once they do well) being smart and direct turns people off, that’s because of misogyny.
And the rush to write her off is only going to hurt the progressive cause.
When we say that Bernie Sanders is entitled to Liz Warren’s votes, it ignores the fact that there are people who want Liz Warren, NOT Bernie Sanders, to get the nomination. As if she only exists in comparison to him. In 2016 we said that Clinton needed to earn Bernie’s supporters’ votes; does he not need to earn Warren’s?
And what of the people who have decided she’s a corporate capitalist shill after her “spat” about some sexist shit she says Bernie said to her in the past? Are Warren supporters supposed to be accused of being corporatist war supporters and then simultaneously “owe” those votes to Bernie? I think we can all agree that they are very politically aligned; but to spend months acting like she is Hillary 2.0 and then that they’re almost the same so just choose Bernie – that argument is just batting a woman around and controlling the narrative about her without listening to her or respecting that she might ::gasp:: have support on her own merit and not in comparison to a male candidate.
Obligatory caveat that I’m not talking about all Bernie supporters, or Bernie himself – but rather the culture of misogyny that totally shut out someone so closely aligned with the left, and with a track record to prove it. Y’all know I would be happy to see Bernie president; that’s not what this is about.
Then there is the added widespread misogyny of proving that America is exactly as sexist as we’ve been saying all along: “My top choice is Elizabeth Warren, but America won’t vote for a woman so I won’t either.” Assuming the rest of your fellow citizens are sexist, and then acting to appease the sexists, makes your actions sexist.
All this in the aftermath of a discussion about whether sexism was a factor at all in Clinton’s loss. For sure, there were a million reasons she lost and any one of them could have tipped the scales the other direction, but to erase the role of sexism is to open the door for it to happen again. To simultaneously refuse to support a woman because you think she can’t win, and lament that people think she can’t win, makes you a direct factor in the problem.
And look, I get we’re all scarred and shell-shocked by 2016 and what that revealed about our friends and family; but returning to the days where we shut women (or people of color) out of certain parts of society is no response to that. The response would be to prove your asshole neighbors wrong.
None of this is to say that Warren would have won the nomination without the role of misogyny, or that she’d definitely win the presidency against Trump. She has long had problems with voters of color and less educated voters and she never managed to get around that. But she so dramatically under-performed, despite raising tons of money from grassroots donors and kicking ass on the debate stage, it’s hard to not see how thoroughly she has been erased, especially after picking fights with powerful men.
Do me a favor, and next time there is any sort of election, stop yourself from saying that we cannot elect a woman – not because of you, but because of everyone else. We could if people stopped believing this.