Sexist double standard arrives early in 2020 race
Well, that didn’t take long, did it? It’s 22 months until the next presidential election, and already one potential Democratic female candidate is being trashed while one Republican male who’s not even a candidate is being treated like an elder statesman who might challenge Donald Trump.
On the last day of 2018, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee—the first step in announcing an actual run—with a video that lasted four and a half minutes and gave details of what drove her to run for public office, focusing on her work to regulate big banks and to help consumers. Her website invites people to join the team.
Within a day, the specifics of her announcement were being ignored, and she was being criticized for being unlikable and inauthentic. Never mind the fact that she beat her opponent by nearly 25 points in the recent midterm election.
Mitt Romney, the brand-new junior senator from Utah, wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post criticizing Trump’s character, saying that Trump “falls short” of what a president should be (an obvious conclusion that the majority of the country agrees with), and it was front-page news everywhere. Now Romney is practically being treated like a possible Republican second coming. (That’s an interesting way to describe a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints, since Mormons believe that the new Jerusalem will be built on the American continent, likely in Missouri, and possibly in Independence, Missouri.)
There were immediate stories on how Romney could win in 2020 and how there were calls from Republican donors to Romney advisers, with those donors all but chanting, “Run, Mitt, Run.” Never mind the fact that Romney lost the nomination to John McCain in 2008 and lost the race in 2012 when he was the nominee—he’s the anti-Trump flavor of the week. But Trump allies were quick to counterattack, some even suggesting a change in Republican party rules so that it would be harder for a challenger to fight Trump for the GOP nomination. It all turned out to be much ado about nothing: Romney says he won’t challenge Trump in 2020.
So we have an actual candidate with actual ideas facing ridicule and a non-candidate being treated like a GOP messiah. The saddest part about all of this is that it’s nothing new. Men are taken seriously in high office, while women must fight for legitimacy every step of the way. We saw it in 2016, and now we’re seeing it in the 2020 race.
A story in Politico with the headline, Warren battles the ghosts of Hillary, starts with several paragraphs telling the reader what’s wrong with Elizabeth Warren. It takes a few minutes of reading—likely when many would have stopped reading, not to mention those who only saw the headline on social media—to talk about any of Warren’s positive traits.