Not ready to elect a woman?
By Jean Godden
A friend of mine, a distinguished historian (a guy), recently told me that, no, the Democrats should not -- must not -- nominate a woman for president. He said, "We did that last time and it didn't work out."
My friend is not alone. I keep hearing that women candidates are simply not "electable" and that electability should be the Democrats number one priority. These folks argue that America is not yet ready to "embrace a female candidate."
This line of thinking is disheartening and, frankly, I am still trying to understand if being born male is a prerequisite for a viable candidate. Looking at the evidence, I find valid reasons for doubt. After all, Hillary Clinton got three million more votes than Donald Trump in 2016. Her vote count of 65.8 million gave Hillary the most votes of any presidential candidate in history.
If it weren't for a few thousand votes in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, today we might be talking and writing about President Hillary.
But, despite this revelation, the never-a-woman crowd is saying that we need to nominate someone (a dude, bloke or fella) like former president Joe Biden. Biden, in case you'd forgotten, lost two presidential election attempts before this one. The same shaky reasoning applies to Bernie Sanders who couldn't unite Democrats the last time around and seems unlikely to do so today.
Histories of male nominees like Biden and Sanders don't inspire confidence. Neither does the background of rising candidate Pete Buttigieg. In Mayor Pete's first race for mayor of Fort Wayne, Indiana, a town about the size of Everett, Washington, he was "trounced," by county commissioner Richard Mourdock. There's a similar story for Sen. Cory Booker, who lost his first race for mayor of Newark in 2002.
It's true that Michael Bloomberg, former New York City Mayor, hasn't lost an election, but he does have a wobbly record of party affiliation. Before his first race he was registered as a Democrat, but switched to the Republican Party for his first and second mayoral races, then withdrew from the GOP in 2007 and ran as an independent. Meanwhile, there's Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang, two candidates who have never lost a race, but that's because they've never run for anything, not even dog catcher or sewer commissioner.
Voters can contrast this mixed bag of electoral outings by male candidates with the records of the few women in the race. Take Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, for instance. Although both have had challenging races, they've never lost and both are the first women senators to be elected from their respective states.
What then is the real reason that informed people -- even some political pros -- are saying the country isn't ready for a woman president? Social scientists say women candidates have to face a thicket of stereotypes and double standards that male counterparts are unlikely to confront. At the heart of the problem are two prevailing beliefs: What it means to be a woman and what it means to be elected leader. The two don't match up. We are conditioned to associate men with certain traits: ambition, aggressiveness, toughness and confidence. We associate women with warmth, kindness and empathy.
Still things are changing, thanks to the #MeToo movement, the Women Marches and the success of women in midyear elections. Has the time come when voters will consider something other than gender when picking a candidate? Can't say; but I do treasure a vintage Non Sequitur cartoon. It shows a climber struggling past an arrow that points to "The answer." Atop the mountain is a sign that reads: "Stop Electing Men." The guru is saying: "What makes it so frustrating is that everyone already knows it."
Question: Who, exactly, said a woman should be not elected president?
Answer: Uh, no one.
This is one, big, "straw man argument" posing as a column.
So many things wrong with this clearly unresearched column.
When Hillary Clinton won 48% of the vote in 2016, it was about 2.8 million more than Trump (which is a lot, no need to lie and say 3 million). But her 65.8 million votes were NOT " the most votes of any Presidential candidate in history." Barack Obama had more votes in 2008 and 2012. Did you mean the most votes of any LOSING Presidential candidate in history? That may be true... but it was also true for Mitt Romney in 2012, John McCain in 2008, John Kerry in 2004, Al Gore in 2000, Michael Dukakis in 1988, Gerald Ford in 1976, Richard Nixon in 1960, and so on. Seems like that distinction is pretty closely tied to the overall number of voters.
Your overall point is valid: It's time for a woman President. But let's stick with the facts. Lying and obscuring was Clinton's tactic in 2016 and it failed. Maybe honesty and transparency can work in 2020.
Thank you for this excellent OpEd. Mind boggling you still needed to write it in the early 21st Century!