Elizabeth Warren during a campaign event

The ‘trick question’ to the failed US candidates: is it machismo’s fault that all the remaining candidates are men?

The fact that Elizabeth Warren has dropped out of the Democratic primary rescues allegations of a macho political system that talks little about it.

“Gender equality problems in the primaries?” Senator Elizabeth Warren asked last Thursday at the entrance to her house: “This is a trick question for any woman. If you say yes, that the primaries are macho, everything the world will say that you like to complain, but if you say no, that there is no machismo, there will be many women who will ask themselves ‘what planet do you live on?’ He also added: “I can promise you this: I will come back to this issue later.”

Warren had just announced that he was leaving the Democratic primary. After her resignation, only one candidate remains Tulsi Gabbard, the Hawaii congresswoman who, with the support of only two delegates, does not have the slightest chance.

Women have led other countries. The UK has had two prime ministers, Angela Merkel is the chancellor of Germany, and New Zealand also has a prime minister. However, in the United States, women find themselves with a glass ceiling, which, far from starting to crack or break, seems to have been armored.

It’s a troubling turn for the Democratic Party, which nominated Hillary Clinton as a presidential candidate in the 2016 election, harnessed women’s political energy to win back the House of Representatives in the 2018 legislative elections, and kicked off the campaign for the 2020 primaries with the largest diversity of candidates in history.

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, California Senator Kamala Harris and writer Marianne Williamson announced their candidacy and withdrawal before the Super Tuesday primaries. Warren’s poor results that election night, including finishing third in his state, Massachusetts, sealed his fate.

Now Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, two 70-year-old white men,  compete to become the Democratic candidate who faces Republican Donald Trump, another 70-year-old white man.

Bonnie Morris, professor of history at the University of California at Berkeley and author of books including The Feminist Revolution, says that when she woke up on Thursday, she was “stunned” to discover that Warren, whom The Super Tuesday voted in the California primaries, he had decided to withdraw his candidacy.

Paternalism towards women

“I think that in the United States we still have a problem with women with authority,” she says: “I think that in the same way that many people felt the rejection of Hillary Clinton’s ability because they attributed a teacher or maternal tone to her, now they have I have used these kinds of terms again to refer to Elizabeth Warren. Instead, they don’t attribute them to men. “

“Many people are intimidated by very intelligent women. If a woman tries to defend an opinion and speaks slowly, but with conviction, there will be many men who will interpret her as being a maternal figure who is scolding them.”

Morris está de acuerdo con la descripción que hace Warren sobre el machismo. “Creo que las mujeres no pueden avanzar”, afirma. “Siempre se enfrentan a comentarios sobre su físico, cómo van vestidas, su tono de voz, su peinado. Siempre tienen que dar explicaciones sobre si su programa incluye cuestiones de género. Si no es el caso, no son vistas como parte de la “hermandad” pero si se atreven a utilizar la palabra hermandad, entonces son consideradas unas feministas radicales.

Unlike another progressive Democratic candidate, Bernie Sanders, Warren had to face tests of ideological purity. “Many people are attracted to Bernie because they perceive him as the grumpy and radical Jewish grandfather,” says the academic, who is Jewish: “By contrast, the grumpy Jewish grandmother is not as attractive to young voters.” “For many women, it is demoralizing and terrifying to see how, once again, it has been impossible for a woman to become the leader.”

The United States is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the nineteenth amendment to the Constitution, which gave women the right to vote, although African American women were denied equal access. The presence of women in politics has stumbled. Geraldine Ferraro was the Democratic vice-presidential candidate in 1984, but presidential candidate Walter Mondale was struck dead by [Republican] Ronald Reagan.

As recently as 2007,  an article in the fashion section of The Washington Post noted that: “Wednesday afternoon on the C-SPAN2 network, someone was showing cleavage. It belonged to Senator Hillary Clinton.” When Clinton first ran for the presidency in 2008 and lost a tough primary to Barack Obama, he said to his disappointed supporters: “Although this time we have not been able to break the highest and hardest glass ceiling, thanks to all of you. now it has about 18 million cracks. “

Eight years later, Clinton made history as the first woman to be nominated as the presidential candidate of one of the two great parties in the United States and won by popular vote, only to later lose to Republican Donald Trump, who had boasted of grabbing women for the genitals. After her electoral defeat, Clinton said: “I know that we have not yet managed to break the highest and hardest glass ceiling, but someday someone will and I hope it will be sooner than we think.”

Politically mobilized suburban women, known as “the moms of resistance,” were key to the resounding success of the Democratic Party in the 2018 legislative elections and voted for a record number of female candidates. The fact that several women ran as candidates in the Democratic primaries seemed to usher in a movement to end Trump’s misogyny. However, the dreaded word “likability” quickly gained a place in public discourse.

Gillibrand, the candidate who focused the most on gender equality – or as she indicated in an interview with The Guardian, the kryptonite to fight Trump is without a doubt “a woman with young children who feeds for herself” – was the first time she saw her flame go out.

Warren has been the best stop in the debates, in which she did not hesitate to describe [Mike] Bloomberg as “the billionaire who calls fat women and lesbians with horse faces,” but it was not enough. Many point out that the media has not given the correct coverage.

Shaunna Thomas, the co-founder of UltraViolet Action, a group of progressive women, tweeted Thursday: “Voters want to kick Trump out. There is no doubt about that. What is also clear is that the media allows a ceiling of unbreakable glass that prevents the advancement of women and that shapes the perception of voters about who is the candidate with the most possibilities through a deeply macho lens. “

Warren and Sanders: the same ideas, different scales

The comparisons between Warren and Sanders are especially illustrative since their plan was similar. In fact, on more than one occasion, they closed ranks so as not to divide the most progressive vote. In the first debates, they joined forces to defend policies such as universal public health, which would extend a health insurance program managed by the public administration to all Americans. But in the end, the 78-year-old Vermont senator prevailed in the first primaries when Warren, 70, retired.

Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress in Washington and who has long been an ally of Clinton, maintains that the two candidates were judged with a double standard: “Two candidates defended a universal health program, but only one was required to give all kinds of details about how he was going to finance the plan. The other is a man who had previously been a candidate and who had not been asked by the media to give these kinds of details. “

“I have not been able to find the explanation. He leads many polls, there are only two candidates left, and yet he has never been asked to provide these details. In fact, he was first asked last week on the 60 Minutes show, and he couldn’t give a very elaborate answer. The media coverage seems to me to be quite weak. “

Tanden recalls that, as in 2018, women remain a key voice in the primaries. “What has happened so far, in South Carolina and Super Tuesday, in Texas and Virginia and Massachusetts and Minnesota, is that voters in the suburbs have gone to the polls en masse, and the majority were women. They are running the primaries. What happens is that at this point, most women have not voted for a woman. It is a sad reality. “

The endless debate about women and “eligibility” seems to have become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The widespread feeling [among progressive voters] that ousting Trump is a national emergency, as well as the trauma of Clinton’s defeat [against Trump] in 2016, may have convinced some voters that nominating a woman or A person of color would be too risky a bet.

In this sense, Tanden indicates that he believes that “Trump is a unique candidate and that is why he generates much more fear than usual among Democratic voters when they weigh which candidate is the most suitable to stand up to him and which candidate has more possibilities. It is true that if a Democratic candidate manages to beat Trump, then perhaps the United States can start again from scratch and women can be a fundamental pillar of the new team that is created, and then perhaps the candidate of the next presidential elections can be a woman. “

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