Another reason that instinctively it seemed to liberals and the media that 2016 should have been easy is Hillary Clinton’s greater record of accomplishment in public service compared to Trump: Remember, of course, that Obama’s lack of a national record of accomplishments was a major campaign issue in 2008. But — especially with potential 2020 Democratic candidates like Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Kamala Harris, D-Calif. — it must be remembered that gender hierarchies confound such comparisons. As Rebecca Traister of New York observed in her own shattering postmortem, a “competent woman losing a job to an incompetent man is not an anomalous Election Day surprise; it is Tuesday in America.”
Even before they become presidents, American culture codes rich white guys in suits as competent irrespective of the evidence, while being suspicious of ambition and accomplishment on the part of women. This absolutely does not mean that a woman should not be the Democratic nominee in 2020 or that sexism cannot be overcome — but it should be clear to Democrats that, if greater qualifications for the office were insufficient before Trump was president, they won’t be enough to beat him after he’s served four years in it.