Jessica Valenti reveals that the basis of decades of Democratic success at the polls is stoking divisions and exploiting them:
If Clinton runs again, it’s doubtful that we’ll see the same level of sexist vitriol against her. And that makes me, well, a little sad. If the misogyny flows as freely in 2016 as it did during Clinton’s first presidential run, the Republicans are doomed. They’re already in trouble with female voters, and it wouldn’t take much to erode that standing further. So bring on the Todd Akins, the “life’s a bitch, don’t vote for one” T-shirts, the knee-jerk Hillary haters. This time around, it will only make her stronger.
Online takedowns of misogyny play a huge part in women’s political lives — and their votes. Just recall Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) and his comments about “legitimate rape.” Or the conservative smearing of Sandra Fluke after she was not allowed to testify at a House hearing on insurance coverage for birth control. Or when Rick Santorum donor Foster Friess suggested to MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell that “the gals” could just put aspirin “between their knees” as a form of birth control.
All these incidents drove the “war on women” rhetoric into the mainstream and influenced women’s votes in the 2012 election. A Gallup poll of 12 key swing states released shortly before the election showed that 60 percent of women said government policies on birth control would be extremely or very important in influencing their vote, and majorities of both men and women said Obama would “better handle” that issue.
“Every 2016 campaign will be run in an entirely new landscape, and that’s due in large part to the gains women have made politically since 2008, especially the gains made in 2012,” EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock told me. “Republicans voiced their extreme and offensive views, and voters, particularly women voters, responded with one of the largest gender gaps in our nation’s history.”
I’m skeptical about Hillary Clinton, largely because Jessica Valenti is missing the big picture. Valenti, you see, is another white Northeastern elite, and therefore a member of a relatively small minority. Given that roughly 60% of white people don’t vote Democrat (including 56% of white females), and people like Valenti represent something like half of those who do (probably somewhat less), we’re only talking about 6-8% of the population in the hardcore Hillary demographic (white liberal females) at best. Granted, they are probably a little more highly represented among voting adults, bringing them up to 10% or so. That’s very important, but it’s dwarfed by minorities, who turned out in huge numbers for Obama. Somehow, I doubt these minorities will be as excited about Hillary Clinton, who is an old, white elite, as they were about Obama.
The “gender gap” in the latest presidential election was actually smaller for whites than it was during the Clinton and Bush years, despite the fact that “gender” was much more of an issue in the press. The gender gap was largest for Latinos, probably due to the relative poverty and high rate of single mommery in the female Hispanic demographic contingent. Feminism is not an entirely spent political force, but it is rapidly being eclipsed by race, and as the US edges toward majority nonwhite demographics, the process will accelerate. White women, aside from the tiny upper class (of which Valenti is sadly a member), will find themselves shut out of the spoils system, and they are not so stupid as to vote against their personal interests. Instead of a permanent Democratic majority of everyone against the middle-class white men, the US will take on a more Southern-style voting pattern, in which ethnic groups compete at the ballot box for advantages.
I don’t know what point we’ll be at by 2016, but my bet is that gender politics will already have started to clearly take a back seat to race by that time. This means that Clinton will have to choose between favoring minorities or white women. If she chooses white women, she’ll get a somewhat larger share of their vote (although how much is questionable), but her losses among minorities due to lack of enthusiasm/hostility may more than offset that. It’s a tough spot for Hillary, so I’m not sure she would be the best candidate. In fact, I think a white male married to a black woman, like Bill de Blasio, would probably have a better shot than Hillary (a white female married to a black male would have problems for obvious reasons — black women are not particularly big fans of that).
My prediction is that by 2016 – 2020 at latest – we’ll see minorities emerge as a true credible national party constituency in their own right, with or without white women. White liberals will be older and less important, and the US will be essentially split into two camps on the basis of ethnicity — not sex. It’s a change I’m not entirely averse to, because it’s about time for white elites to put their money where their mouths are and take a back seat to the minorities who form the backbone of their support.