Hillary Clinton’s defeat in the 2016 election was a blow to millions of people who hoped to see a woman elected president and saw the winner Donald Trump as a serious threat to women’s rights. In a new book, “Resistance: How Women Saved Democracy from Donald Trump,” Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin says from the ashes has born a counterrevolution like the country has not seen in the late years. 1960. And it was mostly run by women, starting with the historic Women’s March a day after Trump’s inauguration in 2017.
A UC-Berkeley-trained labor lawyer, Rubin began writing about politics as a conservative around 2005. She broke with the Republican Party in 2016, claiming it had become “warped by Trumpism.” An early and pugnacious member of the “Never Trump” camp, she voted for Clinton and Joe Biden in the last two elections.
Rubin spoke to The Gazette ahead of a virtual talk she will give on October 7 at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute on “American Women and the Ongoing Battle to Save Democracy.” This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
GAZETTE: What did women do during the Trump presidency that made the biggest difference?
INSIST ON: Their contributions were on many levels. First, the women who ran in 2018 as Democrats clearly helped the House move from Republican control to Democratic control. Much of the book is about them, how they won, and what they contributed after they won. Certainly, the women candidates for the presidency, and not just one, made the difference and gave us our first female vice-president. But the main contribution, beyond all that, is that women organized themselves in a way that we had not seen in this country since the 1960s. Some were small networks that got candidates. on the ballot, volunteered for campaigns and made their voices heard, and some were like Indivisible, mostly made up of women. These organizations have really made a huge difference. You can’t get electoral victories in 2017 in Virginia and Alabama, in 2018 midterm, and then in 2020, without a huge increase in the participation of women, in women’s organizations and women candidates.
GAZETTE: Many women remain frustrated with the sexism that permeates media coverage of women in politics. You point to the comment on So-Sen. Harris’ presidential candidacy and later his “suitability” as a potential vice president choice, as a glaring example. And it wasn’t always the men – some female journalists were also guilty of it. Why hasn’t the press done a better job to eliminate this?
INSIST ON: It’s not just men who have a certain perspective on what politics looks like and what politicians should look like. Much of it is very unconscious. There is a certain laziness, a certain unconscious bias, that organizations have to do a much better job of policing. Most journalists and most editors are still men. That’s not an excuse; it is a statement of fact. Every organization can benefit by looking at how they use the language, what the standards are. And it’s not just a left versus right issue. Watch the treatment Elizabeth Warren suffered from the so-called Bernie Bros. And it all took place in the most misogynistic and toxic atmosphere in which the President of the United States was basically saying, “Men who are accused of sexual assault and assault are victims. The whole environment was so hostile to women.
I have a really long section on sympathy and eligibility issues that were thrown at Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris in a way they never were for men. Warren gave Rachel Maddow a wonderful interview where she was asked about sexism, and she said, “If I say there is, then I whine, and if I say there is.” not, women look at me like I have two heads. “So that’s a very difficult problem. It always has been. Then you introduce the question of race, with Kamala Harris, it became d ‘all the more powerful. The process of selecting a vice president brought up a whole host of expectations and frameworks about what a female candidate should look like, what a woman of color should look like, and the whole question. whether she was too ambitious, too aggressive, was somewhat mental. breath, since these are people who were competing for the presidency of the United States. No one would have asked a male candidate, “Why are you so aggressive and mean with poor Joe Biden? “
GAZETTE: You have been very critical of events since the 2020 election, especially the way the Republican Party has accompanied Trump and his cronies, as they were successful in convincing most Republican voters that Biden was not legitimately elected. Hundreds of new election laws have been enacted in Republican-led states that critics say severely restrict voting and allow supporters to oversee the counting of votes. And Trump, who has reportedly been pondering a legal note outlining steps to overturn the election just days before Biden’s Jan. 6 victory is certified, looks set to run again in 2024. Do Democrats meet as we do. are ?
INSIST ON: Democrats tend to be less aggressive and less sharp in their messages. Part of this is because Joe Biden came to power wanting to be bipartisan. I could understand then that a senator or a member of the staff of the White House would be a little shy about going after Republicans at the same time as they are trying to get votes for their economic program. It was a mistake. They would have gotten those votes on infrastructure without being nice, and they weren’t going to get their votes on anything else, anyway, so from the start they could have been more specific, more directed, more precise.
There are three other factors: First, the Democrats have not done a good job at the state level and at the local level. It is a problem that started under Obama and has only gotten worse. There is such an emphasis on the presidential race, of course, and on congressional races. State legislatures are controlled by Republicans because Democrats are very poorly organized in all 50 states. Now it’s come back to bite them.
The second factor is the Supreme Court. For decades, women and minorities have relied on the court as the ultimate safety net for the protection of basic rights such as voting and abortion. And now you have people on the ground who are basically partisan hackers, promulgating the political goals, the political results, of the party of the president who appointed them. This is not a good solution when you have a tribunal that has been intellectually corrupt and you have state legislatures that are predominantly Republican. You get to the point where you have very few tools.
This brings us to the third problem, that of the Senate. The question, as we have this conversation, is whether they are going to allow filibuster, a Senate rule that is not in the Constitution, which has traditionally been used to oppose government legislation. civil rights, to allow this antidemocratic putsch (in the sense of the 1930s) to seize the country and hinder democracy? I find it hard to believe, although it is certainly possible, that they would let the moment slip through their hands. It would be a big, big mistake.
One of the things that tends to annoy Democrats is that they think if they stick to the rules now, when Republicans return to power, they’ll have to stick to the rules as well. And we have seen time and time again that this is not the case. So some of these frameworks, and some of these habits, are not well suited to fighting the Republican Party in 2021. I think it will depend on the grassroots; it will be up to civil rights organizations, and many others, to show their muscles and fully engage the White House on this issue.
GAZETTE: Since 2016, the Republican Party has abandoned many long-held positions on issues such as trade, national security, foreign policy and deficit spending. How did it happen so quickly?
INSIST ON: There is no explanation. There are certainly people who are so cynical that they don’t believe in anything. No matter what they said before, they didn’t really believe it or strongly believe it, so they could just throw it all overboard. There is another category of people who are careerists, who want access, who want jobs, who want to be in the know, who aspire to be in the center of power, and they just made a pact with the devil to make it happen. . And there’s a third group that has become so convinced that Democrats are the center of all evil in the universe, that whatever Trump does, whatever the Republican Party does, at least it’s better than these Democrats, who are somehow alien to America. Much depends on race and to some extent on gender. They want to preserve a Western civilization; they want to protect America as they know it. They cannot let the Democrats take over. There is a lot of racist pullback to the idea that whites no longer have complete political and economic control.
GAZETTE: Many Republican voters who disliked Trump’s leadership voted for Biden in 2020. Now, as the party moves even further to the right, what happens to those voters? Where are they going politically?
INSIST ON: This is the discussion these days. There is a whole group of people, whether they consider themselves Independents or Conservative Democrats, who see that the country’s immediate need is the same as it was before the elections – that is to secure democracy; it prevents the erosion of democratic standards and the rule of law.
Whether they see themselves as members or just as allies, it is in the country’s interest to support the one party we have right now that at least believes in kids’ democracy d. And so that’s where a lot of us landed. This does not prevent us from criticizing, as we did before, either the administration or the Congress. But it shifts our priorities. That above any other political disagreement we may have, whether it is the amount of spending, the top marginal tax rate, or any other matter, democracy must be paramount and survival d ” a multiracial and inclusive democracy.
Part of what I write in the book is that for me it was very unfortunate that the 2020 results were so mixed because Republicans never realized they had to change their ways. They walked away thinking, “We’re pretty much on the right track. It is going very well. We just need to find someone maybe a little less crazy than Trump. Instead of rethinking their entire descent in this moment MAGA and the MAGA philosophy. So I think it takes big losses, I think it takes repetitive losses, before there is an impetus for change.