Ad will collapse in
seconds…

So when will America be ready for a president who represents a majority of the electorate? Never?
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

First, let me say that I personally have no idea whether in a private conversation with Elizabeth Warren in 2018 Bernie Sanders did or did not tell her a woman couldn’t beat Trump in 2020, as CNN is reporting. He denies it; so far we haven’t heard Warren’s side of the story. But whether or not Sanders echoed this smear of not just Warren but all the women who chose to run for president in this cycle — which has been circulating for months like a particularly insidious form of swine flu — the story gives us the opportunity once again to expose it and denounce it.

The idea comes up in the endlessly expressed “electability” doubts about Elizabeth Warren, and in vague attributions of sexism to the American public intended to convince Democrats that it’s just too risky to put a representative of a majority of the electorate at the top of the ballot. When “populists” say this is no time to elevate “identity politics” above the class struggle, they are clearly suggesting that working-class sexism is something to be accommodated in a higher cause. When pollsters and pundits suggest that misgivings about a woman becoming president in 2020 are more compelling than the even more widespread misgivings about a black man becoming president in 2008, they validate the idea that sexism is a more powerful, yet somehow more acceptable, vice than racism.

These notions are insidious because those repeating them — including, in my experience, a lot of despairing feminists — are not themselves saying they are “unready” for a woman in the White House. It’s those other people who are at fault — other people who somehow are the key swing voters in the presidential election. And what is the empirical basis for believing that? Not, by and large, any personal experience with swing voter saying they don’t want some girl commanding the armed forces! No, much if not all the fear arises from the unshakable conviction that Hillary Clinton’s gender made Donald Trump’s presidency possible.

Never mind that empirical support for the idea that Clinton’s gender was a net negative at all is, at best, limited. Sexism has to compete with a vast array of other plausible explanations for Clinton’s Electoral College loss, including: status quo fatigue, Democratic overconfidence, Clinton campaign resource-targeting mistakes, the Comey letter, Russian disinformation, voter suppression by Republican-controlled election officials, residual bitterness among Sanders supporters, media “false equivalence” in feeling the need to balance Trump’s moral sins with Clinton’s venial sins, nativist fears, fear of Democrats as the party of minorities, and on and on. Why is gender so often singled out as crucial without evidence? And why, as a 2020 risk factor, is it so often elevated above others like the age of Biden and Sanders or those two gentlemen’s past presidential losses?

Even if you are obsessed with electability, there are other candidate criteria that should matter in terms of getting the country from where it is now to where Democrats want it to be, as as I argued earlier this year:

Democrats need to ask themselves questions like this: Is the historic value of electing an eminently qualified women as president worth boosting the odds of a Trump reelection from, say, 20 percent to 22 percent? How about the value of electing a president who can actually get important things done? Personally, having evaluated the “theories of change” being advanced by the various candidates, I think the two Democrats with the clearest visions of how they will accomplish their policy goals happen to be Warren and Klobuchar.

Perhaps I’m wrong about that, but the point is that presidential politics in this day and age is a risky business all around. Deciding in advance that this is no year to break the glass ceiling makes about as much sense as proclaiming that because tall candidates on average do better than short ones, Democrats should impose a minimum height requirement for their nominee.

They wouldn’t do that, but it’s no worse than declaring women unelectable. And male candidates should go far out of their way not only to disclaim support for this disreputable idea but to attack it.

That this hasn’t happened so far is evidence that Trump has gotten into the Donkey’s head and convinced Democrats to legitimize his misogyny. “America’s too sexist to elect a woman as president” is itself a sexist assumption, particularly if claimed without clear evidence, as it often is. Trumpism cannot be defeated by those who have internalized its pathologies. So whether it’s in a whisper, a shout, or just mumbling in the background, the sentiment currently being attributed to Bernie Sanders needs to go away for good.

Sign Up for the Intelligencer Newsletter
Daily news about the politics, business, and technology shaping our world.

By submitting your email, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Notice and to receive email correspondence from us.

The Sexist Myth Behind the Sanders-Warren Spat

Promoted links by Taboola

vision 2020
Iraq Still Matters

By Sarah Jones

Biden’s foreign-policy record should haunt him.

5:55 p.m.
Iowa should be fun in late January and early February

NEW: President Trump will hold a rally in Des Moines the Thursday* before the Iowa caucus
—@justinsink

impeachment
It’s Time for Pelosi and McConnell to Make Some Big Impeachment Trial Decisions

By Ed Kilgore

The impeachment trial schedule should be set by week’s end, and the initial skirmishing in the Senate over rules will soon begin.

4:52 p.m.
There’s little appetite for war with Iran, except among Republican voters

Would you support or oppose the United States going to war against Iran?ALL Support 26% Oppose 64%REP. Support 55% Oppose 31%DEM. Support 7% Oppose 91%IND. Support 18% Oppose 73%(Quinnipiac U. Poll, RV, 1/8-12/20)More: https://t.co/VbUfVisnkF
—@pollreport

vision 2020
The Sexist Myth Behind the Sanders-Warren Spat

By Ed Kilgore

Many Democrats fear, despite a lack of evidence, that a woman can’t win the presidency. They need to reject this misogynist Trumpian assumption.

4:10 p.m.
This spat between Sanders and Warren will be a major storyline going into tomorrow’s debate
Elizabeth Warren recalled an explosive account of a meeting with Bernie Sanders in which he said he didn’t believe a woman could win in 2020, according to three people who heard the story directly from her in the weeks following their private meeting.The fact that the candidate was herself the source of the story renders Sanders’ first response — to blame it on “lying” staffers — inoperative, and ensures that the two senators will be forced to discuss the details of the disputed December 2018 meeting at Tuesday night’s debate here in Iowa.The Warren campaign declined to comment on her recollection of the meeting.Sanders has denied the story, first reported by CNN, as a total fabrication by “staff who weren’t in the room [who] are lying about what happened,” he said in a lengthy statement issued Monday. The people who heard Warren talk about the meeting at the time in early 2019 said on Monday that their recollection of her telling matched CNN’s reporting on Monday.

puerto rico
Puerto Rico Is Recovering, But the Earthquakes Keep Coming

By Adam K. Raymond

More than 1,400 earthquakes have hit the island in the past few weeks, leaving thousands homeless.

2:55 p.m.
Harvard and McKinsey are in this boy’s future

Photo: @JoshuaGreen/Twitter

2:32 p.m.
The price of dissent in Iran right now

#IranProtests2020 Breaking: Iran’s most prominent female director Rakhshan Bani Etemad has been arrested. She had called for a nationwide rally to hold vigil for the victims of downed plane.
—@farnazfassihi

the top line
Trump Admits China Isn’t a Currency Manipulator

By Josh Barro

The essentially symbolic nature of this action fits with the essentially symbolic nature of the Phase One trade deal as a whole.

1:20 p.m.
An old-school Republican slander

Wow. Asked why Trump retweeted a photoshopped image of Schumer & Pelosi wearing a turban & head scarf w/ Iranian flag, Stephanie Grisham attempts to explain by saying he was “making clear” Democrats are “parroting Iranian talking points & almost taking the side of terrorists.”
—@kaitlancollins

vision 2020
Why Cory Booker’s Presidential Campaign Never Took Off

By Ed Kilgore

Senator Booker had a good start, excellent debate performances, and an upbeat personality and message — so why didn’t voters respond?

1:07 p.m.
A terrific result for Biden, who appears to be gaining momentum in Iowa

New Monmouth University poll of likely Iowa Democratic caucus-goers puts Biden in the top spot. But it’s really a four-way race, since these numbers are all within the margin of error:Biden – 24%Sanders – 18%Buttigieg – 17%Warren – 15%
—@GeoffRBennett

12:15 p.m.the national interest

the national interest
Trump Takes Credit For Obamacare, Says Democrats Want to Repeal It

By Jonathan Chait

Possibly Trump’s most brazen lie yet.

foreign policy
Trump Claim That Soleimani Posed an ‘Imminent Threat’ Takes Another Hit

By Adam K. Raymond

Trump set the red line last June, NBC News reports, authorizing a strike against Soleimani if an American was killed by Iran.

11:27 a.m.
The paeans to Booker from candidates still in the race are pouring in

Cory, you campaigned with joy and heart, and instead of just talking about bringing people together, you did it every day. You made our politics better just by running. Grateful to you and looking forward to your continued leadership.
—@JoeBiden

11:22 a.m.
Mr. Magnanimity strikes again

Really Big Breaking News (Kidding): Booker, who was in zero polling territory, just dropped out of the Democrat Presidential Primary Race. Now I can rest easy tonight. I was sooo concerned that I would someday have to go head to head with him!
—@realDonaldTrump

11:08 a.m.
And then there were 12

BREAKING: Cory Booker is ending his bid for president today. Tune in to @CNN for more
—@RebeccaBuck

the top line
Casper Will Go Public, Offering the Latest New and Exciting Way to Lose Money

By Josh Barro

Don’t call Casper a mattress company. Casper, which filed paperwork to go public on Friday, says it is “a pioneer of the Sleep Economy.”

8:43 a.m.
This seems just slightly off

Mini Mike Bloomberg is spending a lot of money on False Advertising. I was the person who saved Pre-Existing Conditions in your Healthcare, you have it now, while at the same time winning the fight to rid you of the expensive, unfair and very unpopular Individual Mandate…..
—@realDonaldTrump

8:05 a.m.
Biden picks up more support from black members of Congress
Freshman Rep. Colin Allred endorsed Joe Biden on Monday, giving the former vice president his tenth endorsement from a black member of Congress and his fifth from Texas’ congressional delegation.“I do think he has the best chance to win in November. I also think he’s the right person for the time,” Allred, a Democrat, told POLITICO in a phone interview. “I don’t think there’s anyone better than Joe Biden, who has been through so much in his personal life, who has such a long record of service, of trying to bring people together, to take over at this time. This is not a normal time in American politics. We need someone like Joe Biden right now.”Allred, who represents a swing district including parts of Dallas and its suburbs, is the second Texas congressman to back Biden after initially supporting Julián Castro. The former Housing and Urban Development secretary dropped out of the race earlier this month and endorsed Elizabeth Warren.

vision 2020
Bloomberg and Steyer Reveal That Billionaires Are Underinvesting In Politics

By Eric Levitz

Billionaires can afford to spend far more on politics than they have been. Bloomberg and Steyer are showing them that democracy is a bargain.

white house
White House Said It Was Snowing in D.C. on Night It Was Almost 50 Degrees Out

By Matt Stieb

Not the kind of climate denialism the Trump administration is usually known for.

politics
Trump Says He Supports Freedom of Press in Iran, Contrary to Record at Home

By Matt Stieb

On Twitter, Trump demanded that Iran “let reporters roam free,” though at home journalists are “real sick ones.”

vision 2020
Sanders Campaign Goes Negative on Warren, Claims She Is Candidate of the Wealthy

By Matt Stieb

Sanders, who leads polls in NH and IA, instructed volunteers to tell Warren supporters that she is “bringing no new bases into the Democratic Party.”

1/12/2020
A local labor boost for Bernie

Scoop: The 10,000-member New Hampshire affiliate of SEIU, which has stayed neutral to this point in the primary, will buck the national board and endorse Bernie Sanders ahead of its state primary. It will be announced tomorrow.https://t.co/6QLThYahe1
—@AsteadWesley

1/12/2020
Projecting gratitude last night in Sydney

Photo: Images taken during the ongoing bushfire crisis are projected on the sails of the Sydney Opera House on January 11. The projections are to show support for communities affected by bushfires around Australia and the firefighters who have been defending them. Fires in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, and South Australia have burned more than 10 million hectares of land in recent months. (Brook Mitchell/Getty Images)

Read More