Portrait of four democratic presidential hopefuls. Illustration by Kate Saylor.

2020 Democrat, Female or Not, Must Be Able to Defeat Trump

Following the defeat of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, confidence in the potential for the U.S. to elect a female president was depleted. Most Democrats were certain that Clinton would win and, when she lost, Democrats were confused, angry and devastated. Democrats failed to understand America’s jaded perception of Hillary Clinton and the Clinton family as a whole; unfortunately she was chosen as the Democratic nominee despite several looming scandals from her previous positions as Secretary of State and New York Senator. It is more probable to assume that Clinton lost the election because of her political history than because of her gender. Regardless, her failed campaign has tainted the playing field for future female presidential candidates. Now we have entered the year 2019 and politicians all across America are gearing up for the 2020 presidential election; the list of candidates currently includes six Democratic women. Voters find themselves asking a familiar question: is America ready for a female president?

Let us look at the evidence: Clinton lost the election but won the popular vote, there are more females in Congress than ever before and in the next election there will be several female Democratic candidates instead of one. This evidence suggests that the American people have a desire for female leadership in politics and that this desire is at an all-time high. As of now, Democrats are leading the way for female politicians. According to Time Magazine, the 2018 midterm elections resulted in 117 wins for female officials, but only 17 of these women were Republicans. This suggests that the chances of a woman winning the 2020 presidential election are strongly associated with party alignment. It is not certain whether or not America as a whole is ready for a female president, but Democrats certainly are.

However, due to the high stakes of the next election and Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 campaign, there are many considerations the Democratic Party must take into account when deciding to support a nominee. It is likely that the party will try to offer support to the most palatable candidate; in order to beat Donald Trump and other Republican candidates, the Democratic nominee must be able to operate in a bipartisan way and will be more likely to gain traction if they avoid controversy and scandal. In other words, this election would heavily benefit from a more centrist candidate. In the end, the Democratic Party may decide that a male candidate would be more likely to win than a female one.

For this particular election it is my belief that gender will play a minimal role. A more important question to ask would be: is America ready to gravitate away from the divisive and nationalistic views of the current Trump administration? If the answer to this question is yes, many of the Democratic candidates, both male and female, have a substantial probability of winning the 2020 election. Women and Democrats everywhere would love to see the first woman president get elected in 2020, but the real motivation of Democrats in this election will be to replace Donald Trump.  

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