Step One: A bunch of entirely premature articles run about how this female Democratic candidate will/should definitely run for president in an election that is still very far away.
Step Two: A bunch of thinkpieces run about how that woman is insufficiently progressive, citing positions she once held but on which she has since moved leftward.
Step Three: Her motives, integrity, and authenticity are questioned. Her leftward movement is deemed suspect and opportunistic.
Step Four: Before this woman has even said she is running for president, a movement to STOP HER emerges.
Am I talking about Hillary Clinton? Well, yes. But I am also talking about Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
Case in point: In February, a slew of "Gillibrand 2020" stories were published, such as the New York Times' "Kirsten Gillibrand and the Anti-Trump Left: 2020 Foresight?," USA Today's "Gillibrand 2020? Senator Talks Future," and Syracuse's "Will Kirsten Gillibrand Run for President in 2020?," among others, many of which ran even after Gillibrand said she was not planning on running for president.
And now this [H/T to Amadi]: A Vice piece by Eve Peyser titled "The Resistance's Latest Hero Used to Be Pro-Gun and Anti-Immigration," and subtitled "New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is fighting against Trump, but will the left buy her conversion story?"
What's particularly obnoxious about this piece is that it links to the Rebecca Traister article I mentioned the other day, in which Gillibrand talks explicitly about changing her views after listening to people affected by the policies she supported. Which is ostensibly what we want progressives to do.
If that sounds familiar, it's possibly because I've made the same point about Hillary Clinton dozens of times. For example:
Progressives always say that we want Democrats to get more progressive, to admit their failures, to meaningfully apologize when they fuck up, to embrace better policies when shitty policies they endorsed fail, to progress. But when Clinton does precisely that, instead of being commended for doing exactly what progressives ostensibly want Democratic politicians to do, she's just a terrible harpy who only "evolves" for political expediency.This seems like a fairly straightforward concept. Yet here we are again.
...[O]n a personal level, as someone who has publicly learned and changed her mind dramatically about a number of issues over the decade I've been doing this, I just find it really obnoxious when people are held to positions they've changed and mistakes they've made, for which they've apologized. Progressives are meant to progress.
...And then there's this: Holding the same views for decades is antithetical to progressivism. The world changes; views and policies need to change. Consistency isn't always a positive, when circumstances demand otherwise.
This is a dynamic to which white male politicians are simply not held. Never mind positions on which they've evolved or for which they've apologized; they are also not inescapably haunted by their worst moments outside of policy. There are legions of young (and not so young) Democrats who have never even heard about beloved "Uncle Joe" Biden's plagiarism scandal, nor his disgraceful behavior toward Anita Hill, nor his long history of "inappropriate" jokes.
The only time a white male candidate's ancient policies and flaws seem to matter is when he is running on the same ticket as a woman.
Anyway. This demonstrable dynamic tells us a lot about how far we have to go in terms of fair treatment of female politicians.
It also further exposes the lie (already made plain by the way people turned on Senator Elizabeth Warren when she endorsed Clinton) that "it's not that Clinton is a woman; I'd vote for a different woman." Sure sure. Except every woman mysteriously gets destroyed in precisely the same way, providing the same excuses not to vote for her.