Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, and many consider her the worst mayor in America (I personally think a very convincing case could be made). But one thing Lightfoot does have going for her is that she’s got her critics all figured out.
Or at least she thinks she does.
During an interview she did last week, Lightfoot was asked a question by a WTTW reporter on whether she believed the criticisms leveled at her during her time as mayor had anything to do with the fact that she was a woman, “and specifically, a black woman.”
It was a purposely leading question from a supposedly unbiased “journalist,” and naturally, Lightfoot took the ball and ran with it:
When asked how much of the criticism has to do with the fact she’s a Black woman, Lightfoot said, “About 99%.”
“Look at my predecessors. Did people say that Rich Daley held tea sessions with people that he (disagreed with)? Rahm Emanuel was a polite guy who was a uniter? No,” Lightfoot said. “Women and people of color are always held to a different standard. I understand that, I’ve known that my whole life.”
“Can I do things differently and better? Of course. Life is a lifelong learning experience, I hope, for me and for others,” Lightfoot said. “But I absolutely understand that critics, some of them who are out there, are criticizing me cause they don’t like to see a woman assume power and forge ahead on an agenda that is about disrupting the status quo.”
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) July 1, 2021
I feel like a broken record when I write about comments like this, but the victim card gets played so often in these situations – and bogusly at that – that it’s imperative to keep countering them until the “sexism/POC” crutch gets burned to the ground with the ashes tossed out to sea.
“99%” of the criticisms directed at Lori Lightfoot are not rooted in sexism and racism. In fact, some of her most vocal critics are mothers of murdered Chicagoans who are frustrated by her ineffective leadership on the rising violent crime plaguing the city, and Black Lives Matter activists who don’t think she’s woke enough. The Chicago PD aren’t big fans, either. Are we supposed to believe all those people are sexists and racists?
Asking questions about a politician’s ability to lead and raising the possibility that they don’t have the right temperament to do the job is not “sexist” nor “racist” (and by the way, I’ve gotta say I’m offended that Lightfoot didn’t also accuse her critics of homophobia). Hillary Clinton has made similar claims that Lightfoot has, suggesting that one reason she lost in 2016 was because people allegedly didn’t think she showed her emotions enough.
In reality, however, it was actually Trump who took the brunt of the criticism about his emotions and temperament, with Clinton herself leading the charge. Those criticisms continued well into his presidency.
Also, I can remember arguments about men’s emotions being made back when Democrat Mike Dukakis ran against then-Vice President George H.W. Bush in 1988. Dukakis was asked a hypothetical question during a debate about his wife Kitty being raped and murdered. His answer came off as cold and clinical when speaking of his wife, and political observers argued it helped to derail whatever hopes he had of becoming president.
Male candidates for higher office who have cried in public have also faced heightened scrutiny and criticism from the media, commentators and the public.
In my opinion, it’s pretty much an inarguable point that when it comes to judging male and female candidates for being “too emotional” or “not emotional enough” that the field has been level for decades.
This isn’t to suggest that aren’t sexist and racist critics out there, but in my view, they are in short supply – and Lightfoot probably knows this. But as per the norm, when a Democrat’s back is against the wall – in particular, one that ticks off all the boxes (woman of color, lesbian) – the default is to reach for the victim card because that’s what they’ve been conditioned to do when all else fails. It’s a transparent attempt at shutting down debate, and all too often, it works.
It’s deeply embarrassing to me as a woman to see this continually happen, and I know I’m far from the only one who feels this way.
As I’ve said before, repeatedly using the woman and/or race card as an excuse to bypass legitimate criticisms waters down the true meaning of “sexism” and “racism” to nothing more than “man (most often a Republican) who disagrees with a woman (most often a Democrat)” or “white person (most often a Republican) who disagrees with a black person (most often a Democrat).” That does not do a single woman any good, whether she’s a woman of color or not. Not one.
It’s both infantilizing and demeaning to ALL women when Democratic women bogusly trot out the woman card to score cheap political points. It might help them politically but it most certainly does not help the women they claim they are fighting for.
Yes, sexism and racism still exist. Unfortunately, they will never completely go away. But not every perceived slight or criticism is about sexism or racism. Not every policy battle boils down to sexism or racism.
Sometimes – most of the time, in fact – these criticisms are nothing more than that: simple criticisms, the kind that may or may not be able to be settled through good old-fashioned passionate discussion and debate.
Truly a horrifying concept – for Democrats, anyway.