Published by the 50/50 by 2030 Foundation, University of Canberra

Research and Stories through a Gendered Lens

Warren’s gone, but a woman still might be elected to high office

Mar 9, 2020 | News

The Democrats had an unprecedented number of women running for the Office of the President of the United States this year yet not one of them has made the cut.

Elizabeth Warren was the last to withdraw from the race, having won none of the 14 states voting on Super Tuesday. What happened?

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren in Washington Square, 2019.

Most of the female candidates were highly experienced and well qualified to hold the office. Elizabeth Warren, a former Harvard professor and consumer advocate, had a policy answer for every vexing issue, yet with her technocratic style, she has been unable to excite the public. 

Contrast her scholarly manner of speaking, however, with that of Bernie Sanders, who points and shouts endlessly to make sure that we “feel the Bern”.

When Democrats are running against the most divisive incumbent ever to seek re-election, we are hearing that the number one concern of many voters is “electability”.  In other words, many will vote for anyone who can defeat Donald Trump.  Anyone that is, except a woman – because, by implication, Americans tried that in 2016 and it didn’t work.  For the qualified women who were vying for this year’s Democrat nomination, this must hurt.

Warren Gina Raimondo

Gina Raimondo, Governor of Rhode Island since 2015.

Despite the early feminist movements, the current #MeToo era and the experience of Hillary Clinton’s run, here in the US – in the “land of the free and home of the brave”, there remains an entrenched view of women that continues to ignore the highly qualified and younger women in politics. These include a number who are currently in elected office, including female governors Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island, Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, or Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan (whose practical campaign slogan was to “Fix the damn roads”).

In the 2018 mid-term elections and the 2019 gubernatorial and state legislature races, the number of female candidates who ran, and won, was unprecedented.  There was also an increased number of female voters participating. A President such as Trump, with his misogynistic attitudes and his lagging support from suburban and urban women, faces an increasingly uphill battle for re-election.  

I believe the country is ready and eager for an elected female in the White House.

Warren Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris, former Californian Senator.

With the wealth of female talent available, especially with the outstanding calibre of Senators Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Kamala Harris, there is the strength and experience for the number two job, or even the top job if it became necessary.

In this season of high drama, complexity and unpredictability, we might yet see an American woman enter the White House, not as First Lady, but as a woman elected to high office.

There may even be room for a woman on the Republican ticket. Faced with formidable opponents in either Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders, a potential pandemic and a shaky economic landscape, there is speculation in Washington that President Trump could spring another attention-grabbing stunt to reinvigorate his campaign and his currently poor approval ratings with women. Not known for his loyalty, the rumours suggest that President Trump could dump his bland Vice President Mike Pence and, with much fanfare, introduce former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, a former Governor and a political aspirant herself who is well regarded in Republican circles, as his running mate.

In this season of high drama, complexity and unpredictability, we might yet see an American woman enter the White House, not as First Lady, but as a woman elected to high office, if not the highest.   






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