Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., left and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif. react to the audience Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, before a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by ABC at Texas Southern University in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
It’s time for the female Democratic candidates running for president to stop reflexively playing the woman/sexism card every time they are criticized or otherwise feel slighted.
Just a few days ago, I wrote about how Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA) dove for the fainting couch after Joe Biden described her “with me or against me” type of campaign tactics as “reflect[ive of] an angry unyielding viewpoint.” In response, Warren fundraised off of Biden’s comments, stating “Over and over, we are told that women are not allowed to be angry. It makes us unattractive to powerful men who want us to be quiet.”
To be sure, Joe Biden does have some woman problems. But you don’t have to be a big Biden fan or defender to see that he wasn’t telling her to shut up nor did he tell her she shouldn’t be angry. His criticism also had nothing to do with her looks.
Nevertheless, Warren persisted in suggesting otherwise. Because apparently only she and other women should be allowed to describe their [male] political opponents in similar terms.
Unfortunately, Warren wasn’t the only female Senator and presidential candidate to go there with the woman card in recent weeks. Amy Klobuchar (MN) said in so many words Sunday that if South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg was a woman he wouldn’t be standing on the debate stage:
“Of the women on the stage, I’m focusing here on my fellow women senators, Sens. Harris and Warren and myself, do I think we would be standing on that stage if we had the experience that he had? No, I don’t,” Klobuchar said, referring to two other female Democratic candidates: Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Kamala Harris (Calif.)
“Maybe we’re held to a different standard,” she added.
“Different standard”? Folks, this is a woman who has struggled since early on in her campaign to gain traction and it has nothing to do with Mayor Pete getting a lot of extra attention or double standards. If that was the case, neither Warren nor Sen. Kamala Harris (CA) would have risen in the polls like they did.
And speaking of Harris, a few weeks ago she said in an interview that the “elephant in the room” of her long-struggling campaign is the fact that she’s a woman of color. Here’s what she asserted at the time:
“Of course” it’s different to run for president as a black woman, she said. “When there is not a reference point for who can do what, there is a lack of ability or a difficulty in imagining that someone who we have never seen can do a job that has been done, you know, forty-five times by someone who is not that person.”
“I have also started to perhaps be more candid” or speak with “a candor in terms of the politics of race in the way that I’m talking during my town halls and in my rallies.”
Nonsense. The problem with Harris’argument in particular is two-fold.
Her campaign has been hardest in terms Democratic support from female voters and black voters. An analysis of her numbers over a period of several weeks over the summer showed a dramatic drop in support from those two voting blocs that are crucial to Democratic success at the ballot box.
Also, her campaign is nowhere near where she needs it to be in South Carolina, which has a large percentage of Democratic African-American voters.
But yeah, sure. Let’s trot out the woman of color card – especially against Democratic primary voters! – to explain failures of her own making or something.
Does sexism still exist in American politics? Sure it does, but not every single slight or every single criticism of female candidates boils down to being about their gender.
Sometimes criticism is just criticism and it’s nothing more complicated than that. Also, sometimes voters simply prefer a candidate who happens to be a male over one who is a female, and most of the time it has nothing to do with sexism.
To repeat something I’ve said before: It’s both infantilizing and demeaning to suggest women who run for higher office be subjected to a softer, gentler tone than their male counterparts or be chosen over their male opponents simply on the basis of gender. True equality means being treated to the same standards across the board, and it also means taking your lumps like a man who faces similar criticisms or similar perceived slights.
But since cries of sexism are increasing among the 2020 female candidates running for president, Detroit News columnist Ingrid Jacques had a great suggestion for the next debate (which is November 20th in Atlanta, Ga.):
Klobuchar, Harris and Buttigieg will get a chance to face off again Wednesday, along with seven other leading candidates, in the next presidential debate.
The all-women moderator team should push the women on stage about these claims of sexism.
I’m guessing that’s not the real reason that Klobuchar and Harris are lagging.
Endorsed. Put up or shut up, ladies. If you can’t take criticism or rejection from voters like a man, then perhaps the Oval Office isn’t the place for you.
— Based in North Carolina, Sister Toldjah is a former liberal and a 16+ year veteran of blogging with an emphasis on media bias, social issues, and the culture wars. Read her Red State archives here. Connect with her on Twitter. –