As someone who doesn’t shrink from offering his own political observations, I found the panel discussion on the 2016 presidential election hosted by the Woman’s Democratic Club (WDC) of Montgomery County on October 28th to be insightful, informative and, now, in retrospect, as off the mark as every other prediction by the so-called pundits.
The panelists for this event were Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus and former Time Magazine columnist and current Bloomberg News columnist Margaret Carlson. The discussion was moderated by former local news reporter, former Congressional candidate and successful business woman the WDC’s own Kathleen Matthews.
The discussion focused on the 2016 presidential election and having these experienced journalists provide their perspectives gave insight into how they viewed the 2016 campaign while also confirming how off the mark every so-called pundit was on this election.
Both women agreed that the election of Hillary Clinton as the first female president was not going to be an easy one. They also agreed that the focus on women’s issues during this campaign had as much, if not more, to do with the nomination of Donald Trump than it did with the nomination of the first female candidate.
Ms. Marcus, who happens to be an independent, pointed out that having the first female president would bring with it certain dynamics that had not yet been experienced by this nation. What will it be like to have a “first spouse” that has “his” own career, who has already served as president? She suggested that it might be wise for former President Bill Clinton to “disappear” and let Hillary be president on her own terms without distraction. Well, now that the election is over, it is clear that that issue is not one with which we will have to deal.
She also pointed out that we will have to see how the other nations react to the United States now having its first female president. From my own vantage point, my observation was that we would have had a much easier time gaining acceptance from foreign nations, many of which have long ago placed a female at the head of their governments, than many segments of our own society, most notably the members of Trumpworld. This issue, too, turned out to be a non-issue.
We will have to wait awhile to catch up to advanced nations like Great Britain, Germany, Israel, and even India who have had female leaders. Rather, we will have to see how the rest of the world reacts to a Trump presidency; I can hardly wait.
Ms Carlson made it clear that in her opinion Hillary Clinton is by far the most qualified candidate to be president that we have seen in quite a long time. To the question regarding why it took so long for the first female presidential candidate to garner the women’s vote, Ms Carlson observed that women are often times harder on each other. She pointed out that the so called “enthusiasm gap” for Ms. Clinton was somewhat ironically filled, not by Ms. Clinton herself, but, rather, by Trump and his vitriolic rhetoric as well as his positions on women’s issues. That gap, as the election demonstrated, was not as wide as most predicted. Women, did, indeed, find it difficult to vote for another woman and preferred, too often, to vote, rather, for a blatant misogynist.
Both speakers agreed that the Trump candidacy brought the war on women to the forefront, although the Republican Party has been engaged in a war on women well before the Trump candidacy.
Issues such as Roe v Wade and unequal pay for equal work are just two examples of the Republican stance on women. Now, with the results of the election in, both of those issues are in serious jeopardy.
This campaign, however, in which Trump, in essence, seized control of the Republican Party with his 40 percenters, brought treatment of women to the public discussion. His exchanges with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly were just the beginning. Add in his comments about Carly Fiorina during the primary debates: “look at that face” and “a headache to listen to” gave Ms. Fiorina some positive reaction in the way she stood up to him and, by so doing, stood up for all women.
More importantly, bringing this dialogue to the campaign helped raise awareness of issues not clearly understood by many, especially men. Both women pointed out how it took the Access Hollywood tape to raise awareness of some of the “ugliness” that accompanies women in the workplace. Both women pointed out their own experiences in this regard and noted that men in their own lives reacted with some surprise when told of these experiences. The point: inappropriate behavior towards women does happen and all too routinely. Sadly, as it turned out, it did not prevent the election of Trump.
Regarding the accuracy of the polls, Ms Marcus felt strongly that they can be relied on to serve as an accurate indicator of the voting results. She is also convinced that there is a very low number of individuals who don’t say who they vote for. This, she believed, is because voters usually are in the company of other individuals who vote the same way. Well, guess what? She turned out to be as wrong about the accuracy of the polls as every other pundit.
The real question for this election, according to the speakers, is why Trump has that 40 percent following and how will a President Hillary Clinton address that segment of the electorate? Both women pointed to the need to create policies that reflect the “unhappiness, anxiety and worries” of this group who most clearly have felt “left behind” AND that address these mostly economic concerns.
Too bad the Clinton campaign didn’t get this message prior to November 8th; it would have helped, especially in Michigan and Pennsylvania.