In 2016, Hillary Clinton faced a great number of challenges in the primary and general elections for president. Some of them were reasonable, like complaints about policy or past records. Some of them were considerably less reasonable, like the fact that she was a woman or the people who wanted to complain about her emails for a year and ignore Donald Trump’s own list of issues. But the most frustrating group of people to me weren’t the ones who refused to listen to evidence, and they weren’t even the ones who spent the entire election cycle being sexist brats. Instead, the ones who I found the most infuriating were those who were Democrats, but quite simply refused to care.
In 2016, Clinton was treated as if she was the worst possible Democrat to have elected, which is fairly untrue. And even if that was the case, even if we looked through a trading card pack of Democrats and she had the lowest scores in everything, they would still be so many times above the scores of Donald Trump even then, in 2016. And now, we could elect a duck and it would be more effective. The idea that any Democrat could still be apathetic towards voting for a single legitimate candidate from our party is absurd, and yet that is what the news seems to be concerned is going to happen.
In an article published last month, an opinion writer from The Hill commented on what they thought about the current Democratic race. Warren was the first candidate they mentioned, and while their comments on her started off positively, they quickly turned more negative. “But like Hillary Clinton, she has yet to find her voice or ability to create a likable narrative that will drive apathetic Democrats to the polls on Election Day,” the article said.
For me, this leads to the question of why we are so worried about narrative in the first place. This is an election for the presidency, not for the national storyteller, not for whoever can make up the best excuses. We’re supposed to be electing the person who we believe will do the best job as president and in no way is that based on the likeability of the candidate in question.
Beyond the general absurdity of this sort of claim is the issue that such standards of “likeability” are only ever put on female candidates. No one would dare accuse candidates like Bernie Sanders or Pete Buttigieg of being unlikeable, even in situations where they are. Sanders isn’t even a Democrat, but voters would never complain about that even as they complain about Warren’s history of being a Republican – when she was doing nothing political and has never been a Republican or supported their values in her political career.
We hold women to a different standard than men in this country. The reason we still haven’t had a female president and the reason I am becoming increasingly concerned we won’t, is because that standard isn’t just high, it’s unreachable. We expect sheer perfection from female candidates while male candidates like Joe Biden aren’t even asked for anything more than mediocracy.
The Democratic Party’s nominee next year should be the best candidate, no matter their gender or their likeability or what we think about them as a person. This country and this world desperately need a candidate who is qualified to actually lead our country through what is now an increasingly dangerous world. I don’t know which candidate will do that, nor can I say with any certainty who I will be rooting for come next year. All I know for certain is the simple truth that if we could put our candidates behind a screen and list only their policies and plans and how they’re going to do them, our country would be better than it is right now.
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Ashton Stansel is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.