Fill in the blank on your playing cards at home. How do you finish this sentence? “The next president should be _______.”
If you happen to be New York Times “State of the Art” columnist Farhad Manjoo, the answer comes to you fairly easily. The next president should be a woman. And in a long, winding column lacking almost anything by way of specificity, he describes why electing a woman – any woman – is not only the moral thing to do but the one clear path to victory for Democrats. Here’s a small sample.
Today, gender politics are at the core of all politics. There is a huge gender gap — most voters in 2018 were women, and about 60 percent of them voted for Democrats — and much of the money, organization and energy on the left has been driven by a broad, reawakened feminism. And not just on the left: According to Gallup, the “way women are treated in U.S. society” was among the most important issues to voters in 2018, above gun policy, taxes, wealth inequality and Russian involvement in American politics.
This reawakened feminism should turn reflexive bias on its head. The women who are running this year are broadly qualified to occupy the White House. They’ve won statewide races, they’ve survived brutal primaries, they’ve advanced novel and pathbreaking public policy ideas. I can’t see many of the male candidates making a strong case that he would be a more effective advocate for the feminist energy now fueling the left than any of these talented women.
The author, who is apparently one of those “male feminists” we keep hearing about, is literally calling for a “smashing blow to the patriarchy.” Fair enough. If you think we still live in a patriarchy, I can see how you might feel that way. And there are plenty of women running for the Democratic nomination, so why not just let the process play out and see who comes out on top?
Nope. We can’t have any of that. It’s imperative that everyone drop what they’re doing and pick one of the female candidates and line up behind her right now. The reason for this is that none of the women are polling out of single digits while Biden and Sanders run away with the show in the early going. Why? Because Hillary Clinton lost an election that was “besotted with gender bias.” And because of that, too many Democrats are fearful of supporting a female candidate because their friends, neighbors and fellow Democrats aren’t ready to elect a woman. For proof, he summons up Dave Weigel.
To understand Bidenmentum, you've got to have some of the conversations I had yesterday: Middle-aged women explaining that 2016 showed that voters won't elect a female president, so they've got to be strategic.
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) April 30, 2019
While you may get sick if hearing this slogan so often, allow me to offer up the opinion that This Is How You Got Trump And This Is How You Will Get More Trump.
Identity politics isn’t the answer to anything and I firmly believe that far too many Democratic candidates and pundits fail to grasp how sick much of the country is of hearing about it. Arguing that it’s time to elect a woman president because it’s time to elect a woman president isn’t going to get you anywhere. Personally, I believe that we’re going to see a female president sooner rather than later. Maybe in 2020, or maybe it will be a few more election cycles down the line. But when it happens, it won’t happen because she’s a woman. It will be because she wound up being the best, most electable candidate on the ballot.
Rather than railing against the patriarchy and demanding some generic human without a Y chromosome be heralded as the nominee, perhaps Manjoo should ask himself why the women in the Democratic primary are currently polling so poorly. The author’s answer is that everyone is afraid that America won’t elect a woman. I have a different answer. Elizabeth Warren is a dud of a candidate and a terrible campaigner who is seen as a single issue Democrat. Kamala Harris has a history as a prosecutor that’s troubling to many liberals interested in criminal justice reform. Kirsten Gillibrand was, as recently as ten years ago, viewed as being more conservative than the Republican she ran against for her House seat. Most of the country doesn’t even know who Amy Klobuchar is. And the rest of the women on the list have even less name recognition than Klobuchar and haven’t figured out how to solve that puzzle.
In short, the women in the field aren’t lagging in the polls because America hates women. They’re doing poorly because some of them aren’t appealing to their own base and none of them have the natural advantages enjoyed by both Biden and Sanders. Uncle Joe has a resume that none of them can touch and Bernie has the experience and staffing from having already run a national campaign and built up a fundraising network. The fact that they are currently leading the field is as surprising as the sun rising in the east.
With all of that said, allow me to finish that fill in the blank game we started with at the top:
The next president should be… the most qualified, electable person on the ballot as viewed by the voters. And that’s who it will be.