The last woman in the Democratic race steps down
On Thursday, following poor results during Super Tuesday, Elizabeth Warren dropped out of the presidential race. In a matter of months, a candidate pool full of interesting and diverse hopefuls has boiled down to two white, elderly straight men. People, especially women, are rightfully disappointed.
Warren and the many other women running for president gave people hope. The arguments made against female candidates in the past just didn’t hold up against Warren. She wasn’t too emotional; in fact, her level-headedness often proved how weak-willed her opponents could be. She wasn’t scared to enter a fight, as the last debate where she basically roasted Bloomberg proved. And she wasn’t ill-prepared. Of all the candidates in the field, she probably had the most detailed policy plans, regardless of whether or not you agree with them.
As a candidate, Warren was certainly one of the strongest, if not the strongest. People may argue it’s hard to say if she would have done better if she was a man, but the answer is fairly obvious based on who we have left. Warren’s supporters will move on and back another candidate before the election, the alternative option is really no option at all, but for now, they have the right to be disappointed in how Warren’s campaign ended.
Looking back at the beginning of the Democratic race, the candidates were varied and showed so much promise. Individuals like Booker, Buttigieg, Harris, Kloubachar and even Gillibrand demonstrated that candidates that looked different, stood for different principles and upset the status quo might actually stand a chance at attaining the country’s highest position of power.
Somehow we went from having female candidates, candidates of color and homosexual candidates, to having Joe Biden as one of our final two candidates, the antithesis of diversity and progress. In a pool that once shouted for progress and promised new beginnings, we’re left with the faint murmur of change in the form of white, male saviors.
Even though I, personally, largely agree with the politics of Bernie Sanders, I, like many women, still have the right to feel defeated looking at another set of male candidates. No, a person’s identity should not be the primary determinant of whether or not we vote for them as a candidate, but that’s always been the case and we’ve always ended up with male presidents. If there was a possibility to see a woman in that position, it hardly seems illogical that people would hope for that too.
The argument here is not that Warren was the perfect candidate, she certainly wasn’t for many people. Looking at the final two candidates who’ve been supported by opposite sides of the democratic spectrum, Warren was too conservative for the Bernie democrats and too liberal for the Biden democrats.
In a pool that once shouted for progress and promised new beginnings, we’re left with the faint murmur of change in the form of white, male saviors.
Warren was haunted by peaking too soon in election season and not being able to hold that lead, and by the assumption, she wouldn’t be able to measure up to other candidates. However, say what you will about her policies, Warren proved she was more than capable of owning her mistakes and keeping other people accountable for their mistakes.
More than a candidate not being able to continue due to lack of experience, knowledge or competence, Warren’s campaign is a shining example of modern sexism. People criticized Warren for her stance on Medicare for All, not knowing exactly how to pay for her plan, but have given far less attention to Bernie Sanders for doing the same.
If Warren didn’t completely decimate her opponents at the debates, she always performed well. However, media coverage was far more inclined to give Biden a nod for being able to perform a coherent sentence than they were to give Warren a medal for keeping her composure despite repeatedly being underestimated.
The sexism involved here is not that we expected Warren to do poorly and she lost her support when she did, it’s that there is a system in place that demands women be exceptional when men can get by with mediocrity. This sexism is one that says a woman can’t get elected when the data has repeatedly said otherwise.
What better proof that sexism still exists that an eloquent and highly intelligent candidate like Elizabeth Warren being beaten out by a man like Joe Biden, who fumbles through speeches, has been historically tone-deaf to issues regarding women (see Anita Hill trial), supported the war in Iraq and continues to think shaking hands and smiling with Republicans is the key to a candidacy.
Even if you never supported Warren or you’re generally happy with the candidates left for the Democratic nomination, allow women the time they need to be angry. Allow minorities and Warren supporters a moment to appreciate that a candidate who could have been a big ‘first’ for the White House is gone.
Women and Warren supporters are allowed to be angry when the eradication of sexism is used as an argument why there is no need to change systems in place, and, at the same time, the existence of sexism is used as the reason Warren can’t win.
We’re frequently reminded that, as a country, when it comes to sexism and misogyny, we’re doing better. Look at ten years ago, twenty years ago or the very beginnings of our nation and you’ll see a remarkable difference. However, to suggest that we have stepped past the age of sexism is simply not true.
When a candidate like Warren has to work twice as hard for half the results, we’re not past sexism. When we’re on president number 45 and not one has been a woman, we’re not past sexism. When a candidate who would have swept the rest of the pool with her fingernail as a man can’t become our candidate, we’re not past sexism.
Women and Warren supporters are allowed to be angry when the eradication of sexism is used as an argument why there is no need to change systems in place, and, at the same time, the existence of sexism is used as the reason Warren can’t win. These contradictions mirror the contradictions many women face in their daily lives, and watching it play out on a national scale is bound to make them angry.
In my opinion, a candidate like Sanders would make a fine president and would be a force for change the White House hasn’t seen for about four years. However, Warren would have cracked down on Washington in a way a candidate as stubborn as Sanders never could. I’ll take the candidate I’m given, but it’s going to sting for just a little while longer.