For the highest position in the land, and on the heels of our first African-American president, Democrats have nominated a woman with unquestionable qualifications and grit, with a decades-long track record fighting for women. Republicans have nominated either an actual racist and sexist, or someone who simply enjoys—and has been rewarded for—pretending to be racist and sexist. And sadly many of those who should know better are still supporting him.
This makes the contrast between the parties incredibly sharp. It doesn’t matter if Trump “pivots” now, or later, to “get on track,” as Republicans have urged him, to become a “general election candidate.” The damage to the Republican brand, and to our political dialogue, is done. A candidate won the Republican primary not just despite his incendiary, extreme language, but because of it. Republican leaders now saying they are appalled are delusional, or haven’t been paying attention.
The courage politicians like Mark Kirk, Lindsey Graham, Newt Gingrich, Paul Ryan, Bob Corker, and Mitch McConnell are showing now was desperately needed months ago. Their latest, mostly mealy-mouthed critiques, are simply a day late and a dollar short. Where have they been, during Trump’s rise? And where were they, during the many years that a Trump-style infection slowly infiltrated their caucus, their media outlets, and their rallies, giving the entire Republican Party a low-grade fever?
This doesn’t mean the general election is going to be easy for Clinton. Polls have shown the Trump vs. Clinton horserace narrowing. Trump’s favorables, while weak, are stable. He will continue to dominate news coverage. He will almost certainly have the support of most of his party’s infrastructure and establishment.
Further, while the numbers tell me the Democratic Party will unify, it’s important Sanders’ voters don’t feel alienated or condescended to. The issues his campaign has raised—like campaign finance reform, income inequality, and college affordability—turn out to matter a great deal to voters across the board. A Vox/Morning Consult poll and others have found support for his agenda, even for a “revolution.” This agenda, and the passion behind it, should not be ignored, scoffed at, or swept aside.
Lastly, Clinton–like all of us mortals–is not perfect. Her unfavorables are high. Her numbers on honesty and trustworthiness are troubling. To what extent perceptions of her shortcomings are gendered at some level doesn’t matter. It’s the reality of the climate she must face.
But let’s go back to the power of the moment. We have deep, deep divisions in this country, and boosting women’s political power and engagement may be the best route to healing them. This is more than demonstrating women can be leaders, it’s also about making “women’s issues” like gender pay equity, health care equality, and family leave policies, visible & important for everyone–men included. In both of these respects, Clinton’s candidacy will pay dividends, not just now, but for decades (and maybe centuries!) to come. This may sound like “the woman card” to some, but it’s the only way out of having a president who plays with less than a full deck.
Margie Omero for CNBC, 6/8/16SOURCE