Maggie Connolly ’21
2020 has always sounded like a foreign year to many people. It has been used in TV series and movies of the past generations to allude to a futuristic time where people travel around on hoverboards and cell phones all create holograms instead of sending text messages (partly true at this juncture, I guess). Even the presidential election of 2020 seems as though it is so far out of our reach. For many college students, this will be their first election, and one that sets up life after college.
The 2020 election has an undoubtedly foreign ring to it for other reasons than hoverboards and holograms. A record number of six women are running for the Democratic candidate for presidency. These women include, Tulsi Gabbard, Kristen Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, and Marianne Williamson, and these are just the women who have officially announced their campaigns.
In light of the number of female candidates lined up for next year, voters may seek to reflect on Hillary Clinton’s campaign trail, candidacy, and close brush with victory in 2016. Clinton’s major issue, or so it seems post-election, were her personal characteristics. Although she had political issues stemming from past voting patterns, and of course, the infamous email scandal, I have heard more often than not voters who chose to look to other candidates because Clinton was “sneaky” or “unlikable.”
This calls to question the sexism and distaste for female presidential candidates in the political field. Why can a highly unlikable man, such as Donald Trump, be elected president of the United States? How did Brett Kavanagh, a man accused of sexual assault by multiple women, get to be considered a qualified candidate for the Supreme Court? The double standard for female versus male candidates for political office is all too apparent, especially when we look at the last year or two in politics.
A New York Times article explored the likability quality, stating that it was one of the most important factors in who wins elections, and likewise, a quality highly influenced by gender bias. When they asked researchers about the importance of likability, they said, “Voters look for it in men, too – consider the ‘who would you rather have a beer with’ question in campaigns – but only in women, research shows, do they consider it nonnegotiable.” The New York Times essentially put sexism in politics in a nutshell with that research. Regardless of how you vote, it is hard to deny that Clinton was much more politically qualified than Trump, and neither candidate appeared to be particularly likable in the polls. However, despite her qualifications, Clinton fell short on election day, coming as a shock to most pollsters and the political media.
So, what do these six women have to do to get their name on the 2020 ballot? The answer is unfortunately unclear. They will be competing in a man’s world, against one of the most forwardly sexist presidents of this century. It seems as though all the political odds will be working against these women on their campaign trail. However, with undoubtedly qualified and experienced women such as Warren and Harris, the race could be reminiscent of Clinton’s experience.
In the end, it’s up to how they are portrayed to the public. The media plays a great role in determining how we see our presidential candidates, down to the photos they produce on the front page of the papers the morning after a debate. As a first-time voter, I would be more than happy to check a box next to a female’s name in 2020, regardless of whether or not she is seen as abrasive or bitchy to the public. More often than not, those who describe female politicians in a negative light are a little too afraid of a woman in a position of power.
Photo from: Breitbart