With Super Tuesday in the rear view mirror and Sen. Elizabeth Warren announcing that she is suspending her campaign, it is clear that Patriarchy is sticking around. The Democratic nomination battle will be between two old white men: Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden. They will be battling yet another 70-something white male for the presidency come November.
This is so far from what we saw in the summer of 2019, where there was a record number of women – SIX – on the debate stage, in contention for the Democratic nomination. Truly historical.
I may seem naive to several people when I say it truly seemed like things were about to change for women. We had a record number of Democratic women and women of color get elected to the House in 2018. In 2016, Hillary Clinton nearly became the president of this country. To me, the idea that a woman could occupy the White House did not seem unrealistic… I thought too soon, I guess.
Because, here we are. Sen. Elizabeth Warren just announced that her campaign is suspending, and with the number of delegates they both have, it’s clear that the race is down to Former VP Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders.
It’s glaringly obvious now, that while Americans are becoming comfortable with female politicians and women making some important decisions, they are still very uncomfortable with the idea of a woman being the ultimate decision maker.
It’s clear when you look at governor’s mansions with only nine current women governors and 48 in the history of the United States, compared to the over 2,300 male governors. Look at CEOs. These numbers are just as, if not more, bleak.
As a woman of color who works in an environment that is very white male dominant, it is not hard for me to parse out the sexism and bias on a daily basis, this presidential election was no different. This relentless focus on “electability” was a constant reminder that she could not move past being a female candidate for president. Everything was called into question: was she too angry? Not tough enough? Too tough? Qualified enough? A “pure” progressive? Not progressive enough? Not moderate enough? Not relatable enough?
Tell me this, when was the last time a man running for president was asked “what does it mean to you as a man to be running for president?”
Warren was typecast as the “elitist” Harvard Professor, with her policy plans that detailed out big structural change. She was typed as smart, but not relatable. People complained about not liking her voice, her being too schoolmarmy, and whatever other issue they had with her. But at the same time, Sen. Warren had a compelling life story. She was born in Oklahoma to a working-class family, with a dad who had a heart attack when she was very young. Her mom supported her family through a minimum-wage job at Sears. Warren started waiting tables at the age of 13, she dropped out of college to get married and have a child. And by 30 she was divorced. She shared her story thousands of times throughout her campaign along with her pregnancy discrimination story, yet it never stuck with people. However, Mayor Pete, was somehow able to be known as both brainy and down to earth, when his upbringing was clearly more privileged. Funny, right? No.
Let’s travel back in time to the Las Vegas debate, to the memorable moments when Sen. Warren completely eviscerated Mike Bloomberg, had a great night on stage, and everyone’s comment was, “where was this before?” When she did that before, everyone’s comments were “she’s too angry” or “she needs to calm down.” She could just never win.
From the moment she stepped into this race, she faced scrutiny and questions every step of the way. Something her male competition never had to face. She never received the benefit of the doubt like those male counterparts.
For me, today has been a sad day. Watching the last overqualified, competent (I say this because Tulsi Gabbard is still in this race with 1 delegate…) woman drop out of this race, hit me hard. It was like watching this dangling string all women have been trying to grasp at for years, get yanked back another 12 feet. As a twenty-three year old American born Indian woman working my way into a career in law and politics, I quite literally only have two role models that look like me. One is Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, the other, Sen. Kamala Harris.
As a country, we need to do better to support women who run for positions of power. Women are powerful, strong and capable of doing anything. It’s time we give them, and ourselves, that opportunity.