As Warren’s campaign grew steadily less plausible, my social media feeds exploded with women lamenting that we’re still second-class citizens, denied the top jobs in favor of less-qualified men. Warren herself leaned into this contention, talking of “all those little girls who are going to have to wait four more years” to see a woman in the Oval Office.
I am on record saying that sexism toward women in prominent positions is real, and toxic. But before we indict the patriarchy for the demise of Warren’s campaign, let’s consider the other reasons voters might have preferred someone else. Such as the fact that, for all her protestations of being “capitalist to my bones,” she was well to the left of most of the voters who opted for Joe Biden. She was promising massive wealth taxes, restructuring corporations to give the workers more control and a Medicare-for-all system that would have gotten rid of private insurance and cost the federal government tens of trillions of dollars over the next decade. She was also leaning more heavily into broad-spectrum identity politics than any other candidate.
Now maybe, in their heart of hearts, many of the people who found her too extreme actually wanted their president to upend the whole capitalist system rather than reupholster it. Maybe they were just too afraid to take a risk on a more radical agenda with President Trump on the other party’s ticket. But plenty of voters I’ve spoken to were making that calculation about Bernie Sanders, too.