by Ingrid Jacques of The Detroit News featuring IWF’s Inez Stepman
Perhaps the real reason top women candidates like Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren, both U.S. senators, flamed out is that — as Klobuchar proved — they simply weren’t great on the campaign trail and didn’t connect with voters, or — as in Warren’s case — their ideas were too extreme.
Klobuchar pointed to a “different standard” for women for her lack of traction earlier on in the campaign. And Warren also joined the sexism chorus, especially after she dropped out of the race.
“One of the hardest parts of this is all those pinky promises,” Warren said when she announced the end of her candidacy earlier this month. “And all those little girls who are going to have to wait four more years. That’s going to be hard.”
One of Warren’s gimmicks, along with taking selfies, was promising young girls she’d try to make it to the White House because “that’s what girls do.”
She added later: “We’ll know that we can have a woman in the White House when we finally elect a woman to the White House.”
Or when women finally vote for one. Warren, who didn’t win any of the primary contests, came in an embarrassing third place in her own state of Massachusetts, where the majority of women supported male candidates.
Inez Stepman, senior policy analyst at the Independent Women’s Forum, says women, like most voters, want a candidate who best represents their interests and who seems authentic.
“Elizabeth Warren was not a great candidate for a whole plethora of reasons,” says Stepman.
Playing up victimhood is reminiscent of what we saw four years ago when Hillary Clinton was running for president. One of Clinton’s campaign videos — “44 Boys is Too Many!” — showcased little girls reading letters to Clinton about how they wanted a woman to become president.
Yet Clinton lost because she couldn’t get enough women to vote for her, notably young, white women. She still holds a grudge, and wrote a whole book detailing how women who didn’t support her must have been brainwashed or bullied by their boyfriends and bosses. Clinton refused to give the traitorous women “absolution.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has also turned to sexism as the rationale for why candidates like Warren didn’t succeed.
“Every time I get introduced as the most powerful woman, I almost cry, because I wish that were not true,” Pelosi said following Warren’s announcement.
If electing a woman were a priority, why didn’t Pelosi and other influential female politicians endorse either Klobuchar or Warren, who respectively represent the moderate and progressive wings of the party? Both had solid resumes and at different points in the campaign enjoyed momentum that could have been boosted by their political sisters.
Women who blame sexism for their failures may actually be harming the prospects of other women. Women who run for office win at similar (or higher) rates to men, Stepman says, but some women may choose to sit it out if they think they’ll face these roadblocks. Same goes with voters.
Warren is mourning the fact she won’t be president. But she shouldn’t let her disappointment get in the way of other women’s dreams.