One of the more shocking revelations of the US 2016 election was how it showed how deep rooted misogyny is in politics… not only on the right with the dumbest orange sexist ever, but also on the left. It seemed for some time that the preferred avoidance strategy of serious introspection in the Democratic Party took the form of Clinton bashing. Of course, no leftie man or complicit woman admitted of blaming Clinton for losing the presidency with the greatest voter win in US history because she was a woman. Of course, they blamed her for losing the electoral college for all sorts of other reasons: that she was too elitist, that she had been debating, speaking and politicking too well, that she was not enough or too leftist, that she was wearing $3000 shoes, that she didn’t speak to ‘left-behind white working class’, yaddayaddayadda. Basically, that she was not Bernie Sanders who, for some delusionists, would have won the election left-handed and blind.
This time round, that the key woman running for the Democrats candidacy, Elizabeth Warren, is a woman who is clearly more on the left than Clinton, who does not wear $3000 shoes, who is sometimes short of words or uses the wrong ones, who is a fierce and sometimes oversimplistic debater and who proudly claims her connections to workers and minorities, so this time we should really see the Democrats, and especially the so-called progressive left, rally around the woman. In the current backlash and white supremacist atmosphere of US politics having a woman run for president would seem revolution enough, wouldn’t it? Sadly, no.
Even though Sanders’ and Warren’s platforms differ mainly that Warren doesn’t call herself a socialist, it is again the man, the white, old and white-haired one that is portrayed as the more competent, more compassionate, the more woke and more able. Bernie, the daddy figure, will fix it. Whatever he might be accused of, sexual harassment in his 2016 campaign team or financial obscurities, some lefties happily pardon by citing his oh-so-progressive program. Whatever program Warren proposes, on the other hand, gets clouded in out-spiralling debates over her heritage or the fact that she, contrary to Sanders, has worked in other jobs than politics in her life. As Clinton before Warren is caught in a catch-22 she cannot win: either she is too inexperienced as a politician or she is too politicky a politician; either she is too far left and daring in her proposal, or not enough; either she is too old or too young. Whatever, she’s simply not a white, old man.
In the face of a feud between the two helping the more centrist Joe Biden or Peter Buttigieg the common proposition hence is that Warren should cede to Sanders. The patriarchal understanding of parity and equal treatment: if a woman is as qualified (or even more than) a man, she’d be a perfect assistant to him. Sexism sits deep even (or especially) on the progressive left.