I’m a 58-year-old white male, and I think it’s time we had a woman president. There, I said it. On Thursday, amid Senator Elizabeth Warren suspending her campaign, I watched a panel on MSNBC discussing the Senator’s exit from the race. Democratic strategist Zerlina Maxwell was the lone woman at the table.
She said something to host Craig Melvin and AP Reporter Jonathan Lemire, the two males at the table, that resonated with me. “I think it’s way past time that we started to hear from men. We need to listen to them say, ‘It’s time for a woman president.’ Men need to step up to the plate and speak out.” I may be paraphrasing a bit here, but I heard her proclamation loud and clear.
What’s it going to take, folks? In 2016 we had one of the most qualified individuals, in Hillary Clinton, to have ever run for president. We know what happened. Ok, she won the popular vote by nearly three million over Donald Trump. Yes, Trump had help from Russia, but the bottom line is that she lost.
And this year, we had several women running for the Democratic nomination. One by one, they all disappeared. With Warren’s departure on Thursday, we’re down to three septuagenarian white men, one of whom will be elected president on November 3, 2020. It’s another sad day for American politics. We had a chance, a real possibility, to make a statement to the rest of the world; that America was ready—ready for a woman president. Sorry, not this year. Will we ever?
I’m beginning to wonder if it will happen in my lifetime. In Warren, we had the smartest person on the debate stage, a two-term Senator, former law professor, founder of a federal agency dedicated to helping consumers, and a long-time housing advocate for working-class people.
It wasn’t enough.
My best friend and I had a text thread soon after the news broke about Warren dropping out. My pal is a moderate Republican who will NOT vote for Trump under any circumstances. His take was that she was too far to the left—not that she was a woman. He asked if I thought it was an anti-feminist thing. I told him I thought that was part of it, but there was another reason as well—this election, more than anything else, is about who is best prepared to defeat Donald Trump. The people on Super Tuesday spoke resoundingly on who they think that is: Joe Biden.
I can’t say I disagree with that reasoning. Indeed, Trump himself feels that way, given his unprecedented attempt to have a foreign government help him out and get impeached for doing it. He knows Biden has the name recognition, as well as being a loyal soldier to Barrack Obama. Those are the facts.
But there’s no way in hell we can discount the fact that Warren’s gender played a role. And, there’s another inconvenient truth: it’s not just men who aren’t ready for a woman president. A sizable number of women themselves aren’t ready either.
In my small sampling size, a good friend of ours, who’s a solid Democrat and will vote ‘blue no matter who’ made a comment about Warren that struck me in the simplistic, yet somewhat shocking critique: “There’s something about her I just don’t like. It’s her whining voice. It bothers me.”
I wonder how many other women feel that way about Warren. I bet it’s more substantial than we might think. Of course, Warren inspired millions of women all over the country. But the double standard that exists for women candidates as opposed to the men cannot be understated.
It frustrates me beyond belief. Our Democratic friend, unfortunately, echoes much of what I see on social media—Twitter specifically. I realize Twitter does NOT represent the rest of America. But what it does represent is a community of people who are active and care about politics. Some of the attacks on Warren were outright disgusting and reprehensible. It reminded me so much of what happened to Hillary in 2016.
So, what’s it going to take? What kind of woman will it take for America to elect her president of the United States? I’ve been contemplating that ever since Warren dropped out. Please bear with me here.
Will she have to be attractive? How old is the proper age? What about her wardrobe? Can she wear skirts above the knee–or below? Pantsuits didn’t quite do it for Hillary. Maybe the first woman president will have to have a fashion designer figure it all out.
How about her body? Must she be a curvy woman, or is skinny ok? Is makeup alright, or does she have to be au natural? Oh, and of course she’s got to have the right kind of voice. It can’t be too high and whiny. Perhaps raspy and sexy?
She can’t get angry—can she? She must never shout above a man’s voice, for that’s rude and inconsiderate. When Warren forcefully went after Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his past sexist comments toward women at his company, Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin (again, another woman) tweeted: That’s not a good look Senator Warren.
Sigh. It is what it is, I suppose. I’ll never forget when Sarah Palin burst onto the scene as John McCain’s running-mate in 2008. Some of the conservatives who fawned over her were downright embarrassing. I heard a few of them say how hot she was, especially the picture that showed her with a gun, out hunting moose. Aha, maybe that’s the ideal woman president. Men will need to be attracted to the first female president, and indeed, Mrs. Palin fits that bill.
But then we learned something about her: she wasn’t very smart. I’m not mean—I’m truthful. Somewhat of an empty vessel, was Mrs. Palin. While it was McCain who ran for president and lost, most of America agreed that Palin was not qualified as his running-mate.
And here’s where I will personally draw my line in the sand. What do I want in the first female president? Well, Elizabeth Warren fit my qualifications, as did Hillary Clinton, Kamala Harris, and many others for that matter. I want a strong, intelligent woman. I don’t care what she looks like, nor do I care how her voice sounds. Is she qualified, and can she do the job? Does she advocate for policies that I think are important to America? Those are my criteria. Frankly, it’s no different than how I feel about men candidates.
But I also want to say that I will not vote for just any female president. If the candidate is a Republican who advocates policies that closely resemble the current iteration of the party, I will not give that candidate my vote, regardless if she would be the first female president. I want a woman president—badly. But if they’re simply a card-carrying right-winger in the mode of a Donald Trump or Mitch McConnell? No thanks, I’ll pass.
I watched Senator Warren on Rachel Maddow the day she dropped out of the race. She welcomed Rachel into her home and her heart. I could see the anguish on her face. She was emotional at times, but she kept it together. What I realized most from that interview was that Senator Elizabeth Warren wanted the job. Not just a little—a lot. It made me angry and sad. I think America missed a tremendous opportunity. I’m convinced she would have made an outstanding president. I guess we’ll never know.
That said, I’m a ‘blue no matter who’ voter. I will proudly vote for either Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden because removing the current president from office is my most important goal for the rest of this year. I was hoping Senator Warren would be the last person standing at the Democratic convention. I gave her some money here and there. It just was not meant to be.
I think America dropped the ball on this one. Oh well, maybe she’ll end up on the ticket of Sanders or Biden. I think they’d be crazy if they didn’t consider her. The paternal hierarchy of America is still a tough nut to crack. We did elect the first African-American to the presidency, though. Yes, he was a man and an outstanding one at that. And we should forever be proud of that barrier finally being broken.
This year, it is all about defeating Trump. The folks out there voting right now are telling us it’s Biden. He’s ‘Uncle Joe.’ We’re willing to overlook his flaws and his age. In the end, the people didn’t think a woman could do it. We tried that in 2016. So, it’s probably Biden v Trump. I can live with it.
The first female president? I suppose we haven’t found perfection yet. For it seems as though that’s what it’s going to take.