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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

 

In 1970, a third-party candidate named James Buckley defeated an incumbent in a race for the U.S. Senate in New York on the slogan: “Isn’t it time we had a senator?” In 2020, masses of female voters who have joined in a national mobilization against Donald Trump will be asking: “Isn’t it time we had a president?”

He won in 2016 despite getting only 42 percent of women’s votes. The first manifestation of the breadth and fervor of the postelection anti-Trump feeling was the Women’s March, held the day after his inauguration.

When the protests in Washington and other cities were tallied, scholars Erica Chenoweth and Jeremy Pressman reported that the event “was likely the largest single-day demonstration in recorded U.S. history.” More than 3 million people — perhaps in excess of 5 million — participated, most of them female.

It was not a passing phenomenon. One year later, huge crowds turned out again — 300,000 in Chicago — to oppose Trump and his policies. A Gallup Poll last January found that 45 percent of men approved of his performance — but only 33 percent of women did.

He has not just irretrievably alienated women; he has galvanized them. This year, more women have run for office than ever before. In March, Politico reported that “so far, at least 575 women have declared their intention to run for the House, the Senate or governor.”

In House and Senate races, the number of female candidates has jumped by 60 percent since 2016. Like 1992, 2018 is already being called “the year of the woman” — and it’s likely to last far longer than a year.

When 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez upset veteran Democratic Rep. Joseph Crowley in a New York congressional Democratic primary Tuesday, she showed the value of offering something visibly different. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., said afterward, “You don’t want to run against a Democratic woman this year.”

Plenty of men reject Trump and what he stands for. But the face of the “resistance” is female — perhaps because women feel, and are, especially at risk from his administration. If he is defeated for re-election in 2020, they will be a major reason.

Such women are not likely to be content with replacing Trump with the 45th man to hold the office. There are plenty of potential male candidates who are experienced, competent and philosophically in tune with Democratic voters. But estrogen deficiency could be a fatal condition in the 2020 primaries.

Trump’s election was a triumph of crude, old-fashioned misogyny and gender stereotyping over modern notions of equality. It forced many Americans to recognize the stubborn virulence of sexist attitudes.

At Trump rallies, these were as subtle as a chain saw. Vendors offered shirts and buttons with messages such as “Trump That Bitch” and “KFC Hillary Special: 2 Fat Thighs, 2 Small Breasts, Left Wing.” His supporters were willing to forgive, if not applaud, his recorded boasts about committing sexual assault.

The election of a woman in 2020 would serve as a thumping repudiation of Trump’s reckless, ill-informed, inhuman and dangerous policies but also his singularly malignant attitudes toward women. To replace him with Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders or one of any number of male senators and governors would implicitly discount the importance of eradicating sexism.

Trump won partly because of complacency among those who expected victory to go to Hillary Clinton, who was so familiar and flawed that she defused enthusiasm even among members of her own sex.

Barack Obama was perfectly matched for the historical significance of being the first African-American president. Clinton lacked the capacity to inspire those moments of this magnitude demand.

Fortunately, the Democratic Party has many able and well-qualified female prospects. The most plausible all happen to be senators: Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Kamala Harris of California and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire.

It’s not just that no man on the horizon is better equipped than any of these women to repair the damage done by Trump. It’s also that for 229 years, the highest office in the land has been deprived of the abilities of half the population.

Maybe a woman would bring talents, perceptions and ideas that have been lacking in previous occupants of the Oval Office. Maybe not. But we are way past due for a female candidate to be elected president. And nothing would be more fitting than for the loser to be Donald Trump.

Steve Chapman blogs at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chapman. Follow him on Twitter @SteveChapman13 or at https://www.facebook.com/stevechapman13. To find out more about Steve Chapman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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