Embracing identity politics as part of a personal narrative makes politicians look weak. This unforced error serves as a not-so-subtle insult to potential voters, letting them know that a candidate does not trust them to cast a ballot based on merit. Most voters do not like to see political aspirants wrapped in a cloak of victimhood while heading campaigns awash in multimillion-dollar war chests.
Two prominent female senators seeking the 2020 Democrat presidential nomination have fallen into this trap. It’s easy to do while navigating the social justice minefield that dominates the party’s landscape today. Firebrand Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), touted as the de facto Dem frontrunner, is furious that two leading male rivals have labeled her as the furious type.
Those Male Chauvinist Dems
Former Vice President Joe Biden has alluded to Warren as exemplifying “an angry unyielding viewpoint that has crept into our politics.” Meanwhile South Bend, IN, Mayor Pete Buttigieg declared that she is “so absorbed in the fighting that it is as though fighting were the purpose.”
Warren’s reaction to these critiques was not to highlight the major problems in America that she believes worthy of her passion. No, it was to see the vile specter of sexism behind the remarks.
“Over and over, we are told that women are not allowed to be angry,” Warren wrote in a fundraising email to supporters. “It makes us unattractive to powerful men who want us to be quiet.”
At a town hall in New Hampshire on Nov. 11, Warren further invoked this stale female-power rhetoric, relating how a young girl with a hand-made glitter sign inspired her. “That is the moment,” Warren enthused. “It’s the reminder that all those women, and friends of women also known as men, came together and said we are going to make our voices heard.”
Sigh. Americans, be they women or their male allies (what a warped way to see gender relations), would much prefer that Warren explain how she is going to promote policies that help the citizens of this nation acquire good jobs and be able to afford to raise a family. Rather than keeping her focus on such matters, Warren could not resist taking up a mantle of oppressed victimhood that has already served her miserably in her previous Fauxcahontas incarnation.
Not to be outdone, candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) has expressed her own gender grievances. The stridently unflashy Klobuchar would like to be the recipient of all the Midwestern Nice attention currently being showered upon media darling Buttigieg. Instead of picking at his vulnerable record as a small-town mayor, she, too, has decided to play the victim card.
The Minnesotan told CNN on Nov. 11 that Buttigieg’s thin resume would never fly if he weren’t a man. “Of the women on the stage, I’m focusing here on my fellow women senators, Sens. [Kamala] Harris [D-CA] and Warren and myself, do I think we would be standing on that stage if we had the experience that he had? No, I don’t.
“Maybe we’re held to a different standard,” she lamented.
We’re Strong, We’re Helpless
Warren and Klobuchar are playing a dangerous game that, of course, is not out of place in a party obsessed with identity politics. It’s actually quite reminiscent of Carly Fiorina’s strategy that was a spectacular failure in the 2016 Republican presidential race. Fiorina ran entirely on gender. She relied on established boilerplate GOP talking points as presented by a brassy businesswoman in order to capture a major party presidential nomination. She offered only one thing to GOP primary voters: the supposedly irresistible narrative of a Republican female business executive. It was not nearly enough in a race focused on weighty populist change issues.
“There is nothing more threatening to the liberal media in general, and Hillary Clinton in particular, than a conservative woman.” That was a typical line lamely trotted out by Fiorina at the time. Similar to Warren today, Fiorina stressed that there is something unique about a tough woman that makes for a better candidate. Klobuchar and Harris would have voters think the same.
Fully embracing this approach, these “bold” women try to have it both ways. On the one hand, a strong woman makes powerful people shake in their boots — and that is why she will win. On the other, a strong woman makes powerful people shake in their boots — and that’s clearly sexist and leads to an uneven playing field that makes it impossible for her to win.
What Fiorina’s now largely forgotten campaign never understood is that neither side of this feminist-flavored coin is of much interest to mainstream voters. A vast majority of Americans are not looking to vote solely based on gender. Is anyone falling for the idea that sitting U.S. senators and wealthy former corporate CEOs are being held down by malevolent forces seeking to keep women like them in their place?
In short, this is loser talk. It is perfectly fitting, then, to see Hillary Clinton continue to indulge in it a full three years after her crushing 2016 defeat. Clinton told an audience in London on Nov. 10 that misogyny “certainly” played a decisive role in her loss to President Trump. “There’s almost an ancient DNA imprinting about ‘this is what women are supposed to do and this is what they are supposed to look like’ and you are not supposed to be so pushy and aggressive,” Reuters reports Clinton as saying. “It is maddening how much that still operates.”
If they do not wish to join a hand-wringing Hillary in her never-ending wallowings, the 2020 crop of Dem women is best advised to steer clear of the “Strong Woman Who They Won’t Let Win” crying game.
Read more from Joe Schaeffer.