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“Fear Of A Female Administration? We’ll See”: Who Second-Guesses A Ticket With Two Men?

Is America ready for a two-woman presidential ticket?

It certainly seems the Clinton campaign is considering the question. Hillary Clinton has made a high profile public appearance recently with Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. They clicked so well that the Washington Post called them the “it” couple of Democratic politics.

At a rally in Ohio, Sen. Warren spoke with her customary sassy brilliance as Clinton looked on warmly. Warren for weeks has taken to Twitter to aim her quick wit and sharp invective at the presumptive GOP nominee, Donald Trump. She showed she can play the role of the mean girl against the bully. She goaded Trump for his “goofy” hat, his simplistic sloganeering and his elite birth. Women cheered at the display of saucy sisterhood.

The public display of friendship seems to be a trial balloon, and many wondered when it would be burst by the pinprick of reality.

Two women? Could voters possibly be progressive enough to support such an estrogen-heavy ticket?

Some turned the question around: Who second-guesses a ticket with two men? Nobody, because we’ve been doing it that way for centuries.

True. But sexism is a fact of American politics. It will be front and center with Trump in the presidential race. The man cannot shape-shift into a gentleman no matter how much the GOP establishment works to improve him.

The unsettling reality is that Donald Trump can get elected to the White House by being a jerk. Hillary Clinton cannot.

Voters need to like female candidates more than they do male candidates. They can dislike a man running for office and still regard him as qualified and electable.

Likeability is not a litmus test for men. It tends to be for women, according to research by Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster. And many people, even Democratic-leaning women, do not like Clinton all that much.

Another finding is that voters seldom think that woman candidate wins a debate with a male opponent. That might have something to do with assumptions about presentation — how a man can be viewed as tough and strong, whereas a woman with similar posturing will be viewed in a negative light. A man is still the model for what people view as a politician. Both genders tend to be more questioning of the qualifications of female candidates.

The 2016 presidential race exemplifies this. The idea that a virtual political nobody like Trump can be held on the same plane as a person like Clinton, with a long and distinguished record of public service, is offensive.

These are the unfair headwinds Hillary Clinton has to face.

Yet there are promising signs for her. Eighty percent of unmarried women support Clinton, according to polls, and she has a substantial lead among women voters generally. In fact, 2016 will be the first time that a majority of vote-eligible women are projected to be unmarried. Those numbers could easily turn the election in all states, according to Celinda Lake.

But alas, polling can only predict so much. Lake emphasizes that demography is not destiny. Voters have to turn out.

To some extent, this campaign can be about challenging sexism. But it would be foolish to underestimate the extent to which such bias persists and will motivate voters.

The same goes even if Clinton wins the White House. Women and girls will not suddenly be viewed as equals and treated with respect any more than African-Americans felt racial bias and discrimination lift from their lives with the election of Barack Obama. In fact, racism became in many ways more overt after Obama was inaugurated. One need only consider the widespread belief among white Republicans that Obama has divided the nation racially. (No, his presence in the White House just held the mirror up to America.)

Sexism will be similar for Clinton. It’s dying, slowly. Women are certainly far better off in work and home life than they were decades ago. But gender bias affects women and girls every minute of the day — in subtle digs, unrecognized effects of long-held beliefs as well as blatant verbal attacks. It’s not fair. It’s not right. But it is America, 2016. And it will impact the election.

Lake has another prediction: When the big money gets out and civility returns to American politics, you’ll see more women running for office. And more women candidates may also bring out more women voters.

The problem is that we are not there yet. We live in a time when Donald Trump can be seriously considered as a candidate to lead the greatest nation on Earth. We clearly have work to do.

 

By:Mary Sanchez, Opinion-Page Columnist for The Kansas City Star; The National Memo, July 2, 2016

July 3, 2016 Posted by | Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton, Women in Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Challenging The Patriarchal Structures”: Rather Than Shout Like A Man, Let’s Let Clinton Campaign Like A Woman

I watched over the weekend as people reacted to a post by Kevin Drum titled: Hillary Clinton Has a Shouting Problem. Let’s just say that the response he got from Hillary supporters on twitter was not kind. The standard line was that the critique was sexist because no one ever says that male candidates shouldn’t shout at campaign rallies. It’s true that he was a bit flippant about that in what he wrote.

A lot of people will take this criticism as pure sexism. Maybe some of it is. It’s not as if Bernie Sanders has a carefully modulated tone of voice, and young people seem to like him just fine. Still, fair or not, sexist or not, this is a common observation about Hillary.

Of course Drum is right, this is “a common observation about Hillary.” But before we leave it at that, perhaps we should ask a few more questions. Is it just true of Hillary, or do we react the same way when other women shout on the campaign trail? When it comes to presidential campaigns, we don’t have a lot of evidence to work with because Clinton will be the first female nominee of either major party. I remember having the same reaction to former Governor Jennifer Granholm’s shouting during her remarks at the 2012 Democratic Convention. Because women’s voices tend to be in a higher octave, their shouting is more likely to sound shrill.

But there are much bigger questions that a discussion like this could trigger. One of the mistakes feminists too often make is that we want to be judged on the same playing field as men. Personally, I think that is too limiting. A deeper feminism would challenge the patriarchal structures on which our culture is built. In the context of this critique, we can ask the question about why our political campaigns are often judged by the way candidates rev up the big crowds – which often involves shouting.

It is hard to have this conversation without referencing the campaign of Howard Dean with his shout heard round the world. As the candidate himself recently explained, what really went wrong with his campaign was his inability to shift from insurgent to establishment. He gave an example of how that happened at his big rallies.

I knew I had to make the turn. It was very, very hard and I didn’t successfully do it…It was really a tug of war. I could actually feel the tugging as I would try to do it and I would give a measured speech and the audience would be completely flat and I wouldn’t let myself leave them flat.

So Dean continued to shout to please the crowds…knowing that it signaled that his campaign would ultimately fail. That is precisely why Clinton’s campaign has developed a different strategy that plays to her strengths. She prefers smaller more intimate gatherings. A lot of women can identify with that preference. Rebecca Traister gives us an example in a great column about the complexities of Hillary Clinton.

Francine and David Wheeler are there with their 13-year-old son, Nate, and his 17-month-old brother, Matty, who’s scrambling around on the floor. They carry a stack of photographs of their other son, Benjamin, who was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, when he was 6. David presses the photos of his dead son on Clinton with the urgency of a parent desperate to keep other parents from having to show politicians pictures of their dead 6-year-olds.

Leaning in toward Wheeler as if they are colleagues mapping out a strategy, Clinton speaks in a voice that is low and serious. “We have to be as organized and focused as they are to beat them and undermine them,” she says. “We are going to be relentless and determined and focused … They are experts at scaring people, telling them, ‘They’re going to take your guns’ … We need the same level of intensity. Intensity is more important than numbers.”…She is practically swelling, Hulk-like, with her desire to describe to this family how she’s going to solve the problem of gun violence, even though it is clear that their real problem — the absence of their middle child — is unsolvable. When Matty grabs the front of his diaper, Clinton laughs, suggesting that he either needs a change or is pretending to be a baseball player. She is warm, present, engaged, but not sappy. For Clinton, the highest act of emotional respect is perhaps to find something to do, not just something to say. “I’m going to do everything I can,” she tells Wheeler. “Everything I can.”

Campaigns are what passes for a job interview in politics. It should come as no surprise that, in a patriarchal culture, they have been set up to function in a way that benefits the loudest male in the room (and also in a way that benefits our media culture). Assuming that women simply need to compete on that turf sells us all short because, to be honest, shouting at campaign rallies doesn’t tell us a lot about how a candidate will function in the actual job. Rather than defend Clinton’s right to shout like a man, I’d like to see us define a world where she can campaign like a woman.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 31, 2016

June 1, 2016 Posted by | Hillary Clinton, Sexism, Women in Politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Spectacularly Stupid Strategy”: Why Trump’s ‘Woman Card’ Attack On Clinton Is Sheer Lunacy

I have no idea what kind of discussions go on when Donald Trump is talking to his campaign advisers, though I suspect there’s a lot of “You were terrific, Mr. Trump!” and “That’s a great idea, Mr. Trump!” But it’s hard not to wonder what they’re telling him about how enthusiastically he’s been going after Hillary Clinton for allegedly playing the “woman card.”

This seems on the surface to be spectacularly stupid as a strategy, yet Trump won’t stop saying it. So I have a theory about what he’s up to, but even if I’m right, he’s going about it in exactly the wrong way.

Here’s what he said yesterday on Fox News Sunday when Chris Wallace asked him about it. It starts with Wallace telling Trump that people in both parties think Trump is being foolish in attacking Clinton this way, to which Trump replies, “Really?  OK.  Well, I’m my own strategist and I like that — what I said and it’s true.  I only tell the truth and that’s why people voted for me.” Then he recites a bunch of poll numbers about how well he’s doing against Ted Cruz, and goes on:

“I mean, Bernie Sanders, what he said was a lot worse than what I said and I’m going to use that. We’ll have that teed up. But Bernie Sanders said she shouldn’t be allowed to run, that she’s not capable.

“And, you know, what he said is incredible. It’s a sound bite. It’s an — in fact, as soon as he said it, they broke in and they said, I can just imagine Donald Trump watching these statements Bernie Sanders has made — is making about Clinton.

“So, look, she’s a strong person. She’s going to have to be able to take it. The fact is, the only card she has is the woman’s card. She’s done a lousy job in so many ways and even women don’t like her.  They don’t like her.

“But it is the woman’s card and she plays it, and I’ll let you know in about six months whether or not she plays it well. But I don’t think she’ll play it well. I don’t think she’ll play it well at all. And it’s true, if she were not a woman, she wouldn’t even be in this race.”

For the record, Bernie Sanders never said Clinton “shouldn’t be allowed to run.” Trump’s assertion that “If Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get five percent of the vote” led multiple commentators (see here, here, and here) to wonder just how well someone with Trump’s lack of experience and colorful history and ideas would fare in a presidential race if he were a woman, and the answer is pretty obvious. And you couldn’t find a worse candidate to make this argument, given that Trump’s unfavorable ratings among women in recent polls have ranged from 67 percent to 74 percent.

So how can he possibly think this is a good argument to make? Here’s my hypothesis: Trump is trying to execute a version of a strategy Karl Rove used so effectively throughout his career. That strategy says that you don’t go after your opponent’s weakness, you go after her strength. The most well-known case was that of John Kerry, where Republicans took the fact that Kerry was a war hero with multiple citations for bravery during his service in Vietnam, and convinced voters that not only wasn’t Kerry a hero at all, he was almost a traitor. In another colorful example from earlier in Rove’s career, he had a client opposing a candidate known for his volunteer work with children, so he spread rumors that the opponent was a pedophile. Suddenly, pictures of the candidate with kids he was helping took on a different meaning.

If this is what Trump is trying to do, it starts from an accurate premise: Clinton’s gender may indeed be one of her greatest strengths. She enters the general election with plenty of weaknesses, particularly since she’s been embroiled in an endless string of controversies over her quarter-century as a national figure. Yet her election as the first woman president would be truly historic, and the closer we get to the election, the more salient that fact may become to women voters (and many men as well). And Clinton isn’t hamstrung by many of the unfair questions that many female candidates have to endure. She’s viewed as strong and competent, and since her daughter is grown, no one is asking why she isn’t at home taking care of her family (a question female candidates with children get, but male candidates never do). There has been a significant gender gap in recent presidential elections, but this election could see the widest one in history, particularly if Democrats can succeed in turning out single women, one of the groups they perform best with.

But if Trump is trying to undermine Clinton’s ability to use her gender to her advantage, he’s going about it in exactly the wrong way. Instead of arguing that a Clinton presidency would actually be bad for women, he’s actually using sexist tropes against her, tropes that women voters find all too familiar. When he says she’s not qualified, every woman who’s ever held a job will be reminded of how she had to work twice as hard to be taken seriously as her male colleagues. They’ll also laugh at the idea that being a woman confers some kind of unfair advantage, in politics or anywhere else. And we’re talking about someone who was a senator and secretary of state, whatever else you might think of her. Trump has never worked a day in government and doesn’t understand the first thing about policy, but she’s the unqualified one? It’s as though the 2004 Bush campaign, instead of “swift boating” John Kerry to convince voters he was no war hero, instead said, “Sure, John Kerry is a war hero, but bravery and service are stupid and military experience should disqualify you from the presidency.” You can imagine how well that would have gone over.

The challenge for Clinton is to figure out exactly how to react to Trump’s blundering attacks. Her initial response — “If fighting for women’s health care and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the woman card, then deal me in!” — was her way of saying that there’s a substantive basis to this argument, that it’s about more than just rudeness. But she needs to keep women motivated to vote against Trump for emotional reasons, too: in the best scenario for her, women are so disgusted by Trump that they register and vote in unusually high numbers. And as some early political science research shows, there’s a wrong way to do it: celebrity endorsements touting Clinton as a strong, accomplished woman have little effect, while a recitation of Trump’s vulgar statements about women move voters powerfully against him.

Of course, it’s also possible that Trump doesn’t have any Rovian strategy in mind when he tells voters that the only reason anyone supports Hillary Clinton is that she’s a woman. It could be that Trump is just a misogynistic jerk who can’t help himself, and isn’t following any strategy at all.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, May 2, 2016

May 3, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, War On Women, Women in Politics | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“I, For One, Am Sick Of Waiting”: The Overwhelming Urgency Of Hillary Clinton’s Cabinet Promise

The other day Hillary Clinton made the kind of pledge that makes waves, but which should not, in all honesty, have to be made at all: “I am going to have a cabinet that looks like America,” she said to Rachel Maddow at MSNBC’s Democratic town hall, “and 50 percent of America is women.” I all but swooned.

Government that is of the people, by the people, and for the people should, by definition and without need for further clarification, represent all the people — though of course, when President Lincoln said those words in the killing fields of Gettysburg, the majority of people living in America (all women, millions of enslaved and free African Americans, and hundreds of thousands of Native Americans) couldn’t even vote. Fulfilling the Constitution’s promise that we will together build “a more perfect union” is clearly an ongoing task.

But okay, here we are. It’s 2016 and a mere 96 years after the 19th Amendment declared that “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged… on account of sex,” we have a very real chance of electing a female president. Shirley Chisholm paved the way in 1972, and Clinton herself came pretty close in 2008, but now it really might happen.

To be sure, representation doesn’t require some kind of one-to-one proxy arrangement, and I’ve already argued that feminism doesn’t require a blood oath to candidate Clinton. I’ve felt very well represented by many men in politics — not least President Obama and Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin — and rest assured that if the 2016 election had come down to Carly Fiorina and Any Male Democrat, I would have very happily (and with a certain degree of urgency) voted for Any Male Democrat.

Ideally, with no legal obstacles in the way, meritocracy would work as intended and the most qualified people would rise to the top of their respective fields as a matter of course. Easy-peasy, no quotas or sweeping pronouncements necessary. We can see how well that’s worked out for women in business, academia, the legal system, Hollywood, sports, journalism, punditry, and Clinton’s chosen field of endeavor, politics.

In fact, Clinton’s candidacy is its own a cautionary tale against such magical thinking. American women have had the vote for 96 years, and in that near-century of time, there has been a single viable female presidential candidate — not once, but twice. The same woman.

During that near-century, how many women have served in cabinet positions? Writing for The Washington Post, Paul Waldman did the math and the answer is dismal: 29 — eight of them in the last eight years. Alongside 509 men. No woman has ever served as secretary of the treasury or defense.

Humanity will not quietly shed centuries of cultural expectations, social conditioning, and institutional structures (such as, for instance, the rules that until the mid-20th century kept women out of America’s top law schools, which have always served as political launching pads) just because a few good laws are in place and a few nice things are said about equality. Consider that five decades after the Voting Rights Act was passed to ensure African Americans equal access to the most basic right and responsibility of citizenship, the battle to strip that right is once again underway. Human progress is not inexorable — we have to fight for, and then defend, every inch.

Classes of people who have been systematically prevented from participating in the fullness of civic life require more than good laws or good intentions. They require policies and actions that help mitigate the wrong that has been done. Put another way: If the only people in your professional contacts list are straight, white men — you need to start calling people you don’t know.

I would argue that the entire country — men, women, and children; black, brown, and white; straight, gay, and other — would benefit if we were to allow ourselves the wisdom, creativity, and experience of a genuine cross-section of our citizenry. You get a better country! You get a better country! Everybody gets a better country!

But honestly, much as I like sounding like Oprah with the cars, that’s not even my point. My point is that women — some of whom are black; Latina; gay; handicapped; Sikh; Muslim; and every other systematically underrepresented group in this country — have the right to be fully represented in America’s democracy. We are 50 percent of the country. We deserve to have a voice commensurate with our numbers.

And anyway, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did exactly what Clinton is proposing when he took office. When asked why, he shrugged and said: “Because it’s 2015.”

Come on, America, let’s get on it. We’re already a year behind Canada. And I, for one, am sick of waiting.

 

By: Emily L. Hauser, The Week, April 29, 2016

May 1, 2016 Posted by | 19th Amendment, Hillary Clinton, White Men, Women in Politics | , , , , | Leave a comment

“I Don’t Vote My Self-Interests”: Get Off My Lawn, Bernie Kids! Why I’m Voting For Hillary Clinton

So I see from Twitter that some genius has gone on Zillow and found my house. I think this must’ve happened in response to something I said on the Stephanie Miller radio show on Wednesday, discussing my last column, about how some people can afford to cast votes around their hopes and dreams while others vote to protect rights and gains that the other side wants to take away from them.

I don’t recall my exact words, but they were something to the effect that that idiot Susan Sarandon’s life isn’t going to change one way or the other no matter who’s president, and for that matter, neither is mine, not that I’m rich, but I make a good living, so my life won’t change, yadda yadda, which I suppose is what put the wheel in spin. So now people who want to know such things know what I paid for my house, and yeah, it’s kind of a lot, this being suburban Washington, D.C., and I guess the point is supposed to be that I’m an out-of-touch elitist or something, just the kind of sellout you’d expect to support Hillary over Bernie.

So I have a nice house. So what? I earned it. I didn’t inherit much. Dad made a lot of money, but he lost a lot, too, always trying to outsmart the market. And he made a hell of a lot less than he could have. His funeral was like George Bailey’s funeral—I lost count of the number of grown men who came up to me crying, telling me about the mountains of legal work Dad had done for them over the years for free.

I mention my father because he’s the one who taught me that people like us don’t vote our self-interest. We’re going to be fine. So I listened to him. I don’t vote my self-interest. I vote the interests of people with houses that cost a quarter of what mine cost. If I wanted to vote according to my naked self-interest, I’d vote Republican. They’ll give me a nice tax cut. No thanks. Don’t want it.

So I vote for other people’s interests. The kinds of interests I wrote about the other day—economic welfare, of course, but voting rights, rights for immigrants, all the rest. The things the Republican Party wants to yank away from people. And you know what? I actually just think that Hillary Clinton will do a better job of defending those interests than Bernie Sanders will. Nobody makes me say that. Chelsea isn’t sending me secret messages. I just think it.

How can that possibly be? It is true that Clinton is too much an incrementalist and centrist for my tastes. She’s gotten a lot of things wrong—the Iraq vote, those speeches and all that lucre, way more money that any normal person needs to have. And yet, I also think two other things. She’s tough as steel; and she might turn out to be good at persuading the Republicans to deal.

Can anyone seriously doubt the first point? For a quarter-century, she’s been called everything you can call a person. They wanted to finish her. Put her in jail. Still do. And this wasn’t because she did anything wrong. Jill Abramson got it right this week: Clinton is fundamentally not corrupt. So it wasn’t that. Rather, it was because to the hard right, she was just too aggressive for a woman. But you can’t destroy a person for that, so you have to find something else.

But she’s endured all of it and stayed in the game. And no, it’s not because she’s power-mad, another well-worn right-wing (and seriously sexist) trope. She’s in it for mostly the right reasons—and because she doesn’t want to let the people trying to destroy her have her scalp, which is a damn good reason on its own.

As for my second point, we have her record as a senator to look back on. True, neither she nor Sanders did much in terms of legislation, but legislation is an overrated part of what a senator does. From what I’m told from senators I know, she’s a better kibbitzer, especially with Republicans. Remember—what do I mean, remember? You don’t even know this!—she went into the Senate with the then-Republican leader wishing her dead (kinda jokingly but kinda not) and harrumphing that in the event that she did survive, she would surely be put in her place. Within a year, many of them loved her.

Yeah, I know. To some of you, more evidence of her hackery. But maybe it’s just evidence that she’s a person whose word is good and who is someone to be taken seriously. So maybe she can sit down with Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan and horse-trade her way to a paid family leave bill. That one thing would make life dramatically better for millions.

And I think it’s one more thing than Sanders would pass. As for my two criteria applied to him, let’s have a look. One, we don’t know if he’s tough. Yeah, he’s originally from Brooklyn. But Vermont isn’t exactly Cook County. And as for horse-trading, he doesn’t talk as if it interests him very much, but if you’re going to be a successful president, it has to.

It has to interest you because millions of people are counting on you to do something to help them. Not people like me. My needs from the state are few. I’m for the person who I think will do more for people whose needs from the state are great. On paper, I probably agree with Sanders as much as I do with Clinton. But politics isn’t about having one’s own views reflected back to one.

And a people’s revolution that can be blocked by a mere 41 senators, which the Republicans will never not have, is going to fail and disappoint.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, April 1, 2016

April 3, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Women in Politics | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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