There’s no place like home, or so goes the cliché. Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand seemingly endorsed that philosophy on Wednesday while unveiling her 2020 presidential campaign headquarters in her hometown of Troy, New York.
“Troy’s awesome, right?” Gillibrand said to an audience of about 50 people including reporters. “They said, ‘Why are you doing your campaign headquarters in Troy?’ And the answer is ‘cause it’s awesome!’”
Gillibrand managed to say this with a straight face and without ruby slippers. Problem is, for Gillibrand, there apparently is a place better than home: The Ed Sullivan Theater. That is where the 52-year-old chose to announce she was launching an exploratory committee for her presidential run. No cherished mom-and-pop diners in a 2-to-1 Republican district she boasts to have won were in sight, just the bright lights of “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.”
The point isn’t to ridicule her strategy nor the pandering. That’s politics. However, Gillibrand’s emphasis on her sex as a qualification and accomplishment is the trite type of identity politics, unfortunately, we will be inundated with in the 2020 race.
If you thought Hillary Clinton’s #ImWithHer was bad, get ready for an overdose of estrogen in what could be the most wide open Democratic presidential primary since 1992. Back then, we elected a president who really loved women (usually the ones outside of his marriage). This time around, we have women who love women—if it means getting them elected.
Please Believe My Platitudes
Gillibrand touted herself to Colbert saying, “I’m going to run for president of the United States because as a young mom I am going to fight for other people’s kids as hard as I would fight for my own.”
Here we seemingly have a not-so-subtle reference to the foreign children at the U.S. border. Yet “other people’s kids” is intentionally vague, as well as inaccurate. Almost surely Gillibrand isn’t referring to Kate Steinle, who was killed by an illegal alien, or California police officer Ronil Singh, a legal immigrant who was shot and killed by someone here illegally. These Americans might still be here if we had stricter immigration policies.
Details, details. The point is really to generate homey sketches in which people to fill in the blanks themselves. It’s part of a messaging pattern for Gillibrand, too. Only a few days into her presidential run, Gillibrand told voters once again that she is a mom, and that is why we should vote for her. She tweeted:
As a mom, I’ll fight for your family as hard as I fight for my own. For health care as a right, not a privilege. For every child to get a good education, no matter what block they grow up on. For good jobs for everyone who’s ready to work.
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) January 16, 2019
Yes, mothers have one of the hardest jobs in the world. I was raised by a stay-at-home mother who chose to give up her career to be with our family. She was the nucleus of our home.
But as great as mothers are, this single working female’s vote isn’t based on motherhood. Motherhood likely won’t resonate among other millennials, either, who are on average waiting longer to buy homes and have children. Just last year, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its findings that the birthrate dropped to an all-time low in the United States.
Not only is Gillibrand relying on women to relate to something possibly not-so-relatable, she’s also excluding men. There are plenty of dads who have the same struggles and demands on their time as moms. Gillibrand’s approach is fundamentally flawed in trying to paint a rosy picture of a 1950s home in America while hedging bets that women will vote for her as an anti-1950s icon.
Here Come Ladies With Nothing Else to Recommend Them
Other women have announced exploratory committees for the 2020 race, including Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Sen. Elizabeth Warren. If you can get past the cringe-inducing beer drinking on Instagram and the horribly played DNA test, Warren actually had a more substantive delivery of her goals in a video she posted to Twitter.
“Our government is supposed to work for all of us, but instead it has become a tool for the wealthy and well-connected,” she says in the video. “The whole scam is propped up by an echo chamber of fear and hate, designed to distract and divide us. People who will do or say anything to hang on to power, point the finger at anyone who looks, thinks, prays or loves differently than they do. This dark path doesn’t have to be our future.”
Warren wants to go after the wealthy. Fair enough. She wants to fight for the everywoman (not everyman, since identity politics comes first and foremost in the Democratic Party). At least Warren has a history of doing some of that. She loathes Wall Street connections to government and, as such, led a charge to eliminate Antonio Weiss’s nomination as the undersecretary of treasury for domestic finance under President Obama.
If you share a similar philosophy as Warren, then go ahead and vote for her. At least that’s voting for an individual you think will best serve your policy interests. But don’t fall into the trap of voting for her just because she’s a woman. That’s asinine.
Potential Consequences of the Sex Card
The mistake here is believing that because a candidate might look like you in some aspects, she can fulfill your interests. That trades superficial similarities for ideological ones, with serious consequences worldwide.
For example, Gabbard admitted to Congress in 2017 that she had met with Bashar-al-Asaad during a trip to war-torn Syria. She refused to identify his opposition as “terrorists,” and stirred legitimate legal concerns of violating the Logan Act, a federal statute barring unauthorized individuals from meeting with a government official in disputes with the United States. That is a serious thing to consider before championing a woman running for president simply because she’s a woman.
Then, there are U.S. relations with Israel to consider. The far-left wing of the Democratic Party has often insisted on more criticism of Israel and pushed for more concessions to Palestinians. The anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement, for example, garners support from Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.
This puts the stability of the Middle East in jeopardy. Relations with one of our closest allies should always take priority over the peculiar self-interest of “This Congress member looks like me in one particular way.”
Undoubtedly, the mere act of writing this article will be seen as an act of misogyny, even though it’s an argument for always considering the issues and best candidate at hand. Remember that when the sex-based political ads pick up steam for 2020. Or have a remote with a mute button handy.