The Women Running for President in 2019
Sure, we want a woman in the White House but the facts matter too
Many in the United States and around the world were devastated when Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump in the last U.S. presidential election. And, for us feminists at least, things have only gone downhill from there – unimaginably far downhill. Meaning that as the next election approaches, the stakes are unbelievably high. But now for the good news: amid the large pool of Democrats who have thrown their hats into the ring stand an unprecedented number of women. And while a fractious Democratic Party doesn’t bode well for getting a Democrat back in the White House, I’m thrilled that so many female candidates have stepped up. That said, simply choosing to run is not enough for any woman to earn my vote, or yours. At Restless, we care about the facts, too. So below, I’ve compiled a quick run-down on every woman running for President. Unsurprisingly, I’m unable to hold back my personal opinions. But hey, the political is personal right?
Gabbard, a veteran of the U.S. war in Iraq, is serving her fourth term in Congress, and a central theme of her campaign is her opposition to foreign wars. She supports ‘Medicare for All’, wants to address climate change, and opposes the death penalty. She also supports decriminalizing weed. One thing she has going for her is that, unlike the other Democratic candidates, she also has some support among more conservative Americans. This means that she stands a better chance of winning Republican votes, which might be necessary in a tight re-election race. But it is also concerning because, you know, why pander to the party that voted Trump into office? She picks fights with Democrats and Republicans alike, so she is willing to stand her ground, even if it costs her support. One reason why so many on the right like her is her past anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion positions. She says she regrets this and has changed as a result of her experience while deployed in the Middle East, but it’s hard to trust that change given the intensity of her past positions. Of course, people change, but wouldn’t we prefer someone who has always supported the LGBTQ community and women’s’ right to choose? While her opposition to foreign wars is salutary, that stance is largely rooted in domestic reasons. Okay, fine, that’s not terrible – but it’s also not what many liberals would have hoped for after the Trump nightmare. And then there’s her quasi-support for Assad. She also uses the term “Muslim extremists,” despite its misleading and offensive connotations. Another negative. Further, she has been a supporter of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, an anti-Islam right-winger who has previously been barred from entering the US due to being personally implicated in deadly anti-Muslim riots. American supporters of Modi have become some of Gabbard’s biggest donors – including some disturbingly Islamophobic groups. So, despite many of her other generally liberal policies, her attitude towards Muslims is just too disturbing, especially given the racial biases in so many of America’s current policies.
Gillibrand’s platform is centered around making parenting affordable. She opposes corporate cash in politics and supports universal healthcare. Unlike some candidates, she also practices what she preaches: a FiveThirtyEight analysis shows that she has voted against the President’s interests more than any other Senator. She’s also been called the ‘Me Too Senator’, thanks to her stance as the first Senate Democrat to call for Senator Al Franken to resign after sexual harassment and groping allegations emerged against him. She also stated that Bill Clinton should have resigned over his affair with Monica Lewinsky, as Clinton used his position of power to engage in that affair. Gillibrand’s point is that such misconduct is unacceptable, regardless of party affiliation.
On the negative side, in the past she has said she slept with guns under her bed and had an ‘A-rating’ from the NRA, and she has also opposed amnesty for illegal immigrants. She has now veered dramatically those previous stances, however, calling for the abolition of ICE and consistently voting against gun lobby interests. She now has an ‘F-rating’ from the NRA, and I, for one, like her a lot better for it. Of her change in policy, she says, “I came from a district that was 98 percent white … I just didn’t take the time to understand why these issues mattered, because it wasn’t right in front of me. And that was my fault. It was something that I’m embarrassed about and I’m ashamed of.” Glad to hear she’s had a change of heart – and perspective.
Harris is certainly prepared for the job. Starting as a prosecutor, then District Attorney, before becoming California’s Attorney General, she was also only the second black woman to ever win a seat in the US Senate. She supports reparations, the Green New Deal, decriminalizing sex work and pot, and has been a long-time fighter to end the death penalty.
She believes in ‘Medicare for All’, debt-free college, women’s reproductive rights, a path to citizenship for immigrants, and a $500 tax cut for low-income families. When asked why she didn’t join her family legacy of protestors and activists, she said she wants to be the person who lets the protestors in. She is clearly a believer in changing the system from within and has worked hard over many years to get where she is today. “Truth” is the keyword of her campaign, and after experiencing its utter absence since Trump came to power, that’s a good priority to have.
In terms of negatives, she is sometimes described as being too cautious. As one journalist has said , “She comes across as a woman who is cashing in her chips, taking all the political and social capital she was safeguarding for all those years and putting it on the table, declaring that her moment is now.” But what else should she have done? How else could she have succeeded? It strikes me that to be able to take risks is a luxury that not everyone has, especially if they’re a black woman in America who has dreams of making the country better in a significantly impactful way. And despite her “too careful” tactics, she has still been a target of death threats. Personally, I would rather have a careful, thoughtful and informed President than anything else. That said, some in the black community make a significant point with their concerns about her record of putting people behind bars for non-violent crimes while in her prior positions as a D.A. and Attorney General in California. Finally, and oddly, she has been accused of being too likeable. Can women never win?
Klobuchar is one of the more moderate Democrats running for President. She supports the Paris Climate Accord, and while she believes in a path to universal health care, she is more cautious than other candidates on health care and student loans. One of the main points of her campaign is that she wants to restore the world’s trust in the United States, something that will be sorely needed after the Liar-in-Chief leaves the White House. Klobuchar also wants to combat racially discriminatory voting laws, and she wants to raise the minimum wage. In terms of defense policies, she places a big emphasis on cyber-security. As a middle-of-the-road candidate, it’s almost inevitable that many people will find her to be generally inoffensive but a little uninspiring, and the allegations of her mistreating staff may lower some people’s opinions of her (mine included). Better than Trump? Absolutely, but I guess that’s a pretty low bar. Accomplished, smart and pragmatic? Yes, yes, and yes. A favorite? I would say not.
With strong experience as a Senator and a former Harvard Law professor, Warren’s populist policies make her a top contender to Bernie Sanders, who has quite the fan base behind him. Polls show she is admired for her policies, which are arguably the most extensive and detailed of any candidate’s (you don’t get to be a Harvard Law professor by relying on slogans), but she is expected to have a harder time winning against Trump when compared to Biden or even Sanders. Which is pretty frustrating, given that she has mastered the nuts and bolts of being a serious candidate for the highest office of the land better than either of those two men. She has somewhat similar policies to Bernie’s, but hers are better planned and thus have a better chance of being enacted. And no, she wasn’t Vice President, but she also isn’t America’s creepy uncle with the roving hands, either.
And here again, her policies are better than Biden’s. She cares deeply about wealth inequality, something she has made a priority in her campaign with proposals for a Wealth Tax. She believes the wealthy have too much money and power, and she wants to redistribute some of that through this tax, which is how she plans to fund sweeping policies such as student debt relief and universal child care. Like Harris, she focuses on systemic change, while men like Biden are generally more comfortable with the status quo (sans Trump, of course). She also wants to launch an anti-corruption plan, and puts a lot of emphasis on interacting with voters, coming across as warm and real.
Her upfront and detailed plans set her apart from the vague promises of other candidates, women and men alike. Her focus is on how to make capitalism work for the many instead of just the few, but don’t mistake this for socialism: she simply believes in a better regulated market, with major targeted interventions, such as a program to promote American exports and create jobs, and a $2 trillion federal investment in climate-friendly industries. Unfortunately, she is likely to face overwhelming opposition from Republicans in getting any of this enacted, even if she is elected President. But isn’t every Democrat? Her tagline suits her: “I have a plan for that.” Who doesn’t want a President with a plan?
Williamson is a spiritual teacher and activist who is best known for being a celebrity bestie to Oprah. Her tagline, “Choose love over fear,” is a nice sentiment, as is the fact she’s a proponent of reparations for African-Americans, universal healthcare, abortion rights and stronger gun control.
This is now the general canon of the liberal bid for the Presidency. But on her website, she says, “The issues aren’t always the issue.” What’s that about? The issues certainly are the issues for those affected by them, so perhaps this doesn’t reflect a readiness to govern.
The focus of her campaign is that America needs a “moral and spiritual awakening”, but one could argue bringing spirituality into politics is a little close to backing away from the separation of church and state. No thanks. She also supports the anti-vaccination movement, and at the height of the AIDS epidemic, Williamson and some others told gay men that they could cure themselves if they would just properly visualize themselves getting well, rejecting science and medicine. Some believed that sort of rhetoric, and those that did often died. Do we need another President who doesn’t believe in science? Absolutely not. We also don’t need another politician leveraging their celebrity, instead of doing the hard work that the other five female candidates have done.
So, some of these women have a good chance of being the next President of the United States. All have their flaws and foibles, but so does every other candidate running for high office. Some, like Williamson, are problematic. Others, like Harris and Warren in particular, are beacons of hope in a political climate that has become odious these past few years. Whatever happens, the American people – or at least those who choose to or can vote – have the power to say how this turns out. Staying informed is key to making the right decision. And if you’re not American, you can still play a role in fostering a deeper and more thoughtful discussion of these issues. Unless you’re in Russian intelligence or Wikileaks, in which case, please stay the hell out of it this time!