“I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it. I’m about to lose control and I think I like it.”
Yaaaas! Kamala Harris is the VP pick and I am verklempt. I have been trying to figure out what was going on and then it dawned on me. I’m happy again, like in 2016. I know not everyone was super excited by Hillary Clinton. But me, I was excited. I was thrilled by the idea of a woman president.
In 1984, I worked advance for Geraldine Ferraro’s Vice Presidential campaign and I was so proud to work on that historic campaign – the first woman to be on a major party ticket. Then, Hillary’s groundbreaking campaign in 2016 was life confirming for me. All the times I had been told women could not do this, or that, or to lower my expectations because it wasn’t appropriate for girls. It was all suddenly being upended with Hillary taking the stage and accepting the Democratic Party’s nomination for president. My disappointment at her loss was deep. I grieved. I know I was not alone. In fact, there were hundreds of thousands of women who felt like I did. They poured out of their homes and traveled to Washington, DC and to major cities around the United States and around the world to march in protest against the p*ssy grabber in chief who won in the electoral college but lost the popular vote. The energy of the pink-knitted hat women buoyed me from my grief and put me on a path of activism. I had already helped get Democrats Abroad – Israel back into compliance and we were starting to have activities and events, but this really galvanized my resolve.
Apparently, the backlash to Trump’s election steeled the resolve of many other women to get into the fight, as well. So many women ran for office in 2018 that it was dubbed the second Year of the Woman. The last time we had a ‘Year of the Woman’ was in 1992, when four women were elected as senators and 24 women were elected as representatives to Congress. In 2018, twenty-two women were elected as senators and more than 100 women were elected as representatives to Congress – and they totally shattered any earlier limits, ceilings, or pre-conceptions.
Then, the 2020 presidential primaries began with the biggest field of candidates and a really large cohort of terrific women candidates, mostly women senators. I was so happy to see these women in the race and the way that they competed against each other and also supported one another. They demonstrated grace under pressure and a different way to be competitive. I cheered them on. I watched their debate performances and talked about them with friends. I was sad when they each dropped out of the race, one by one. I have missed them – but didn’t realize it fully.
The women elected to Congress in 2018 have taken their rightful place in the chambers of democracy and power and they are challenging the sexism, the misogyny and the good old boy way things have always been. Alexandria “AOC” Ocasio-Cortez, Democratic representative from NY, recently gave a speech on the floor of the House challenging patriarchal abuses of authority by another member of Congress when he degraded her and dismissed her as “disgusting” as “crazy”. She gave voice to what most every woman has experienced at some time in her life, “This harm that Mr. Yoho tried to levy at me was not just directed at me. When you do that to any woman, what Mr. Yoho did was give permission to other men to do that to his daughters. . . . I am here to say, that is not acceptable.” AOC went on to stand up for decency saying, “Having daughters is not what makes someone a decent man”. “Treating people with dignity and respect is what makes a decent man. And when a decent man messes up, as we all are bound to do, he does apologize. Not to save face. Not to win a vote. He apologizes, genuinely, to repair and acknowledge the harm done, so that we can all move on.” Hearing a woman defend women on the floor of the House of Congress made me so proud. These are the moments I’ve been waiting for. Yet, while I was buoyed for a moment by AOC, still something was missing. I couldn’t put my finger on it.
Joe Biden has been the presumptive Democratic nominee for several long months now. I say “long” months because coronavirus makes all time stand still and the days meld into one another and the months seem to be endless. It seems like ages ago Biden announced he would select a woman as a running mate and there was a list of potential candidates, and that list was refined, and further refined, and then expanded and refined. Every time I looked at the news, I would get caught up in Republican talking points why this or that particular potential VP candidate was ‘not good’ or ‘has baggage’ or ‘is old’, or ‘white’. It all clicked into place on August 11. Like a breath of fresh air, Joe Biden announced that Kamala Harris is his running mate, and it just felt right. She’s the woman candidate I’ve been waiting for. Time has started moving again for me. And not just for me. Everyone I talk to is energized and psyched that Kamala is in the fight. There’s no time to waste. The election is 81 days away and absentee ballots will be emailed to overseas voters in 36 days! Everyone must register to vote and request an absentee ballot right away.