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?