By Gallagher & Schleicher
In the same month as the 2020 Republican presidential convention, many will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. Depending on the outcome of the Mueller investigation, 2020 also may be the first year in which both major political parties have women as their presidential candidates. On the Republican side, perhaps it will be former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley. On the Democratic side, maybe one from a plethora of U.S. senators: Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand or possibly Amy Klobuchar.
Or will 2020 see Donald Trump running for re-election against a male selected by the Democrats not for being the most qualified but because he’s seen as the “safe” choice? Someone who Democrats assume would be palatable to Trump voters (for not being female), only to lose to an electorate still desperately in search of change and another opportunity to give the middle finger to establishment politics?
We propose that the time is right for the Democratic Party to (again) nominate a female candidate — and it may not be outlandish for Republicans to consider the same. Doubters who think America is not ready for a female president should first remember that former Secretary of State and Sen. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly three million votes. Yes, not allocated in the way needed to also win in the Electoral College but far more votes nonetheless.
Secondly, take a look at the recent Gallup polling (pre-government-reopening) finding that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s unfavorability rating is some 10 points lower than Trump’s. Many Democrats who considered Pelosi too divisive to lead now consider her their best hope to survive the last two years of his first term. Across the street, Ruth Bader Ginsburg has become the best known and only wildly popular Supreme Court justice.
Third, consider the 2018 elections with record numbers of women elected to state houses and Congress. Some chalk that up to the quality of female candidates who ran this time — from military veterans to the two women elected based on a record that included service as Central Intelligence Agency officers. It also is a reflection of the continued thirst for honesty, new ideas and anything other than more of the same — not to mention the anger among women voters over scandals and disregard of their interests that they understandably interpret as contempt.
Looking beyond the top of the ticket, let’s not forget that American voters sent a record number of women to the 116th Congress, mostly as Democrats. And the impact of women is felt locally, too, on issues that hit close to home: education, health care and the environment, among others. Organizations such as Run For Something, started in just 2017, have had enormous success attracting and assisting droves of progressive young candidates (women and men alike) to stand and win elected office at the county, municipal and state levels. Simply put, women candidates draw votes.
There are no doubt some who will not or cannot support any female for president, even if she’s a conservative like Nikki Haley. Republicans actually have fewer women in Congress now than before the 2018 mid-terms. We suggest that’s a “them problem” and an “us opportunity.”
Here’s another reason to place females up and down the Democratic ticket in 2020: It will make the president and his apologists do and say stupid things, reminding moms everywhere of his true nature. Observe how he was schooled, twice, by Nancy Pelosi. In contrast to his effective schoolyard bullying of male opponents in the 2016 Republican primary, Trump seems unsure, even cowed, by a woman who treats him on equal footing.
Similarly, the right-wing echo chamber responds like a rabid raccoon when faced with a popular female politician who promises change. One example: U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a cum laude graduate from Boston University with a degree in international relations and economics. The Fox News crowd is so obsessed with her that one would think she’s spending a fortune with them for visibility. Much as the media effectively provided billions in free coverage for Donald Trump’s campaign circus, a well-qualified and charismatic female candidate — and Trump’s apoplectic responses to her — can be expected to hold our (ever-shorter) attention spans come 2020.
Democrats, independents and moderate Republicans, show some courage. Sometimes the “safe move” is the dangerous move. Candidates like Joe Biden may seem a rational response to red-hatted Magasters but often have their own histories that can leave female voters unmotivated to turn out in large numbers. Let’s give the Democratic base, female swing voters and those who have lost faith in the establishment a reason to again hand the popular vote to a female, but this time with an Electoral College victory as well.
Focusing on pleasing the elusive Trump voter is a Melvillian hunt for the great white whale that can be expected to have an equally tragic end.
David Gallagher is a transplanted Texan, living and working in London who tweets @TBoneGallagher. David Schleicher, an attorney who blogs at www. ContranymTimes.com, is like Mr. Gallagher father to a daughter and husband to a wife widely acknowledged to be his intellectual superiors. This piece originally appeared in the January 31, 2019 Waco Tribune-Herald, where the Davids are on the Board of Contributors.