I’ve been putting off blogging about any of the numerous prospective Democratic 2020 presidential candidates, but of course there was no way that I was going to maintain that restraint. We now have one big-name prospective candidate who has declared, so I may as well get started.

I think Elizabeth Warren is terrific. She is extremely smart, tough, passionate, principled, and articulate. She has a knack for explaining complex issues in terms that regular people can understand. She’s an impressive policy intellectual with genuinely original ideas. Not least, she is a dedicated progressive. Her candidacy will revolve around her inarguably correct observation that Washington works great for people with money, but not so well for people without. Other Democrats say things like that, but you know that Warren really means it, and seriously means to fight to change it.

If all this sounds like an endorsement, it’s not. Not yet, anyway. There are other Democratic candidates whom I like, and I don’t yet have an opinion on who has the best winning chances. Also, Warren has a downside, one that I don’t fully understand but that seems to be real.

There are people who I would expect to be favorably disposed to Warren who find her somehow unlikeable. (Some of the characterizations I’ve heard are “abrasive” and—believe it or not, in this @MetToo era–“strident” and even “shrill.”) Now, I have seen enough of Warren speaking in public to have an opinion. She is undoubtedly very forceful and aggressive in taking on the bad guys. Occasionally her voice betrays a certain emotional intensity. I find all of this refreshing.  So, I’m going to put it to you, and I will be interested in readers’ opinions: none of her “unlikeable” characteristics would register if Warren were a man. Women who are aggressive and forceful are seen as ballbusters, and women who are emotional are…well, just being women.

I hope that Warren can overcome these negative perceptions. If not, her candidacy will suffer a real handicap and, justly or not, it would be a pragmatic reason not to support her. But, I would urge you, if you find her personality unappealing, ask yourself: would you feel the same way if she were a man?

 

4 comments

  1. Judy Forman January 14, 2019 at 1:09 pm

    I love Elizabeth Warren, and I suspect that those who call her strident and shrill are simply sexist. Frankly, I do find Hillary Clinton strident and shrill. I have a hard time listening to her speak, just don’t like her harsh voice. But that’s absolutely not true of Elizabeth Warren. She is a real human being, and she speaks plain English, in a not-unpleasant voice. Like you, though, I’m not yet ready to support anyone for president in 2020. We need to concentrate on fixing the current impasse before we start looking ahead anyway.

  2. Jerry Graham January 14, 2019 at 5:11 pm

    Warren has been my first choice for a long time. She is clearly to the left of Hilary, and not necessarily as far left as Sanders.

  3. Art Schmidt January 14, 2019 at 11:48 pm

    Donald Trump, the least likable person in politics, got elected, so let’s stop pretending that “unlikability” is disqualifying. It must be shorthand for something else. For a lot of voters, I’m sure that “something else” is tied to assertive women. For an amusing answer to the question you’ve posed, Google “devorah blachor mcsweeneys” and follow the link to “I Don’t Hate Women Candidates — I Just Hated Hillary and Coincidentally I’m Starting to Hate Elizabeth Warren.”

  4. Jeffrey Herrmann January 15, 2019 at 10:40 am

    Likable, schmikable!
    The question is whether she is electable.
    I agree with her on almost every issue (and I like her).
    But I don’t think she is electable.

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