These are just a few of the tweets fired off in response to Kirsten Gillibrand’s announcement that she planned to run for president in 2020:
Since when did a progressive voting record absolve politicians for sexual harassment? And why do so many self-proclaimed “progressives” and “liberals” not understand that being a “great senator” and a sexual predator are mutually exclusive? Why don’t they understand that progressivism and misogyny are also mutually exclusive?
For that matter, why are so many of these people villifying Gillibrand for holding Franken accountable for his behavior? And why do so many of these “progressives” saying that “we” “needed” Franken? Why are they pretending that Al Franken was the only Democratic senator who was willing to push the progressive/anti-Trump agenda?
Not only are these attacks on Gillibrand — who has been trying to pass legislation to help victims of military sexual trauma and campus rape for years — likely to derail her presidential ambitions, the attacks are going to undermine Gillibrand’s and other women’s attempts to hold sexually predatory politicians accountable for bad behavior in the future. Why would any woman politician call out a colleague for sexual misconduct if doing so opens them up to abuse and endangers their careers?
The vitriol directed at Gillibrand is proof positive that misogyny is a problem on both sides of the aisle. Despite the fact that men of the Left have repeatedly decried the sexism and misogyny of men on the right, all too often they fail to hold men of their own political persuasions to the same standards. And they are more than willing to condemn women who speak out in defense of other women.
And the criticisms directed at Gillibrand also expose an unacknowledged truth about many of these so-called progressives. Many of them are still clinging to the fantasy of a Great White Hope. While Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton got the two highest vote tallies in history during their presidential runs, a lot of progressives are absolutely convinced that someone who isn’t white and male cannot beat Trump in 2020. That’s why many of them cling to the idea that Franken was somehow irreplaceable, overlooking the fact that senators like Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Mazie Hirono, Cory Booker, and Tammy Duckworth (among others) have taken up the anti-Trump fight. And this desire to rid America of the Orange Pestilence is causing them to adopt the regressive ideal of white male hegemony.
What better way to maintain this ideal than to withhold support for a female politician who, in keeping with her pattern of addressing sexual assault and harassment, attempted to hold a man accountable for his bad behavior toward women?