There’s also the difference in what Beto is allowed to express without criticism. He can say he’s unsure of himself, that he lost of a sense of purpose, that he feels self-doubt. Honestly, that’s nice to see in a man, particularly one in politics! But it’s disappointing when you consider how poorly it would be received coming from a woman. If Kirsten Gillibrand, for example, were to express self-doubt, she would likely be attacked—even more than she already is—for being uncertain, unprepared, or, even worse, emotional.
It’s not news that women—in politics and probably every other arena—have to be at least twice as qualified and still expect at least twice as much criticism and doubt. But the Beto reception points to a problem that persists specifically in presidential politics today, for both Democrats and (as the current presidency clearly illustrates) Republicans: We have a bias towards newness, conflict, and theater. And we place an outsized premium on figuring out which candidate can win without enough consideration as to who will do a good job should they win.