Whitehouse Maid? or Made for the Whitehouse?Staff
Elizabeth Warren: A look at her bid for the Democratic Party Nomination in 2020
Elizabeth Warren is a familiar name in politics. The Massachusetts senator’s run to be nominated as the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate in the upcoming 2020 election drew both criticism and praise from all sides. The senator may have lost her bid to be on the Democratic ticket, but this hasn’t stopped Senator Warren from tackling women’s political participation issues and the challenges they face.
Women’s Political Participation Issues and Challenges
The 71-year old senator is familiar with the issues and challenges women face in politics. Even in the 21st century, many still view politics as a ‘man’s job.’ While some voters may still believe that politics is a man’s game, during the Democratic debates Senator Warren correctly pointed out,
“The only people on this stage who have won every single election that they’ve been in are the women.”
In response to the question of whether a woman can defeat the country’s current president, the Massachusetts senator responded,
“The only person on this stage who has beaten an incumbent Republican anytime in the past 30 years is me.”
Senator Warren was also correct on that point, so why did she lose the party’s nomination?
Issues and Challenges Women Face in Politics
One of the biggest challenges women face in politics is gender bias. When Senator Warren answered the moderator’s question about the chances of a woman defeating President Trump, she took a political risk. It was not due to the fact that a male candidate would never have been posed the question of gender-bias. Instead, the public perceived her brief, fact-based answer as either whining, complaining, or both.
Women participating in political issues must be careful that voters do not feel like the candidate is playing the ‘female card.’ Insulting as this may be to women in politics, they do have to worry about how the message is perceived. Importantly, they must watch out that voters and fellow party members see a positive message. Specifically, their achievements came not because of gender but on the female politician’s merits and strengths.
Playing the Gender Card
Researcher at the Center for American Women and Politics, Kelly Dittmar commented on the gender bias female politicians often face. When voters think they are using the ‘female card,’ it is historically a blow for that candidate. Instead of Warren’s response being taken at face value, the perception was a ploy to gain sympathy.
The issue of gender is typically taboo in politics, as evidenced by Hillary Clinton’s failed bid in 2008. During her campaign, she repeatedly stressed that she wasn’t running as a woman but as the best candidate for the job. In 2016, when she ran against now President Trump, her message changed to embrace both her qualifications and gender. Her message seemed to have resounded with some voters. She won the popular vote but lost the electorates.
Label: Rinse, Lather, Repeat
Many political experts attribute Hillary Clinton’s defeat to labeling by her opponent.
Throughout American political history, we see men labeled as liars, cheats, and even worse. However, many of them still win their elections. The opposite applies to female candidates. Hillary Clinton was never able to completely throw off the cloud of suspicion that she was a crook and a liar. Unlike her male candidates similarly labeled the same and sometimes worse, it effectively ended her political aspirations.
Elizabeth Warren is familiar with this. She was labeled not only by President Trump but also by Democratic supporters. Her widely publicized disagreements with Senator Bernie Sanders started a Twitter firestorm with hashtags ‘#WarrenIsASnake’ and ‘#NeverWarren’ trending across the country. Instead of her debates with Senator Sanders being seen as two political opponents discussing the issues, Elizabeth Warren was labeled a liar. Unfortunately, it was a label she wouldn’t be able to shake off. It was also one of the primary reasons why she did not win the Democratic ticket.
Made for the Whitehouse
Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential run did change how women address gender. Instead of trying to downplay it, female politicians have rebranded their gender as an advantage over their male opponents.
Elizabeth Warren’s response to the gender-biased question is widely viewed as successful on whether a woman could defeat President Trump. Unlike past female politicians who’s advisors recommended avoiding the question, she did not. Instead, she highlighted gender bias without becoming defensive. However, she avoided mentioning any of the challenges she has faced over her career, which may have been perceived negatively.
Senator Warren might not be in the race for the Whitehouse in 2020. However, opening doors for other female politicians have proven that she is not a Whitehouse maid.
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