A Vision Beyond 2020
One presidential candidate is accused of pressing a woman against a wall and grabbing her crotch. And the other presidential candidate is Donald Trump. That’s where we are in 2020.
I’ll preempt this post to say I’m happily planning to vote for Joe Biden. He’s the kind of experienced leader that can help mend a country ailing from more than just a virus. He truly has a chance to get political opponents talking again, to foster the collaboration that was once the norm, so I believe he’s uniquely suited to stitch up our wounds.
Still, my hope is that Biden wins and steps aside after one term, leaving us in the capable hands of whomever becomes his running mate. The only true way forward is to elect a woman to the highest office in the land.
Even if the allegation against Biden is suspect—and false equivalencies to Brett Kavanaugh are especially dangerous, because truth should also matter—it is true that Biden has a history of behaving in a way that’s made women uncomfortable. Voters have been forced to excuse the shoulder squeezes and kisses as displays of warmth from a bygone era. But the time for excuses must end.
In many ways, the offenses being called out by the #MeToo movement have always been about power. “Boys will be boys” only because they were allowed to be. And it’s a vicious cycle. The more power someone has, the harder it can be to take that person down, and the more likely it is that the person’s abuses escalate. This is what’s happened to men. They’ve reigned in elected offices and in boardrooms for so long that they were able to normalize belittling and destructive behavior. We can talk all we want about change, but it has to come at the ballot box, and it has to come in a presidential election. We all need to see a woman sitting in the Oval Office, with everyone answering to her.
Because representation matters. Everyone needs role models. Everyone needs people who resemble themselves doing the thing that they might want to do, because that example makes doing that thing seem that much more achievable. We need barrier breakers, yes, but then we need a generation to follow the lead. I want Ria to grow up thinking that a woman president is no big deal.
But beyond just being a positive example, a female president could help us become more compassionate. Women make up the majority of caregivers in our society—perhaps because there is some biological inclination, but also, likely, because these have been the roles historically ordained for women. Regardless, a female president could provide a more powerful platform for these positions. Could we see an emphasis on mental health care? A strident encouragement of talking about emotions, rather than a stigmatization? We as a people could become more well-adjusted, less likely to lash out and more likely to reach out. It’s a thought that fills me with optimism.
Mother’s Day is on Sunday, the one day of the year when we all stop to thank the women who brought us into this world, who raised us. A quick shout out to my mother, who is the best mother a son could ask for. I thank the universe every day for her.
It occurs to me that when I was sick as a kid, there was often no better remedy than my mother’s care. A hot cup of homemade chicken noodle soup, a warm blanket placed over me. That’s probably a fairly common memory. In a medical emergency, doctors perform procedures to save our lives. But then, gradually, we return to those lives, hopefully stronger because we survived the trauma. The question then is, who do we look to for continued support and guidance? —Andrew Waite