From the Most Diverse Field of Democratic Nominees to Two White Men

Well, it is Women’s History Month, and its first week began with a sobering moment for many women across the nation when Elizabeth Warren dropped out of the presidential race.

This election season has been quite the rollercoaster ride, rendering me with turbulent emotions. In the beginning, the choices were infinite for Democrats, seeing the most diverse field for presidential candidates in history. 

During that time, I got to go to my first campaign rally with my mom in January 2019. Kamala Harris was officially announcing her candidacy in Oakland, and we wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to see the potential future president.

At the time, I had no idea who I would be supporting, but the endless possibilities left me feeling optimistic. women fists raised in air Original Illustration by Gina Escandon for Her Campus Media As the candidates started to dwindle in late 2019, I started pinning down who I was going to vote for come Super Tuesday. My choice came down to Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders. They were the most progressive candidates promising the kind of structural changes that I personally believe need to happen.

For months leading up to the California primary, I was constantly going back and forth between the two progressives. Pundits on television arguing over electability and a messy caucus in Iowa only made my mind spin further, sending me on some backward path towards confusion and cynicism. I had my concerns about both of them, as well as hopes for the changes I believe either of them could make.

It was not until the week before the primary that I made up my mind: I would be voting for Elizabeth Warren (*gasp*). 

Something clicked in my mind, and I realized that everything about Warren made me feel hopeful. She and everyone who supported and organized for her all felt optimistic passionate about solving the issues while still displaying frustration and anger over the system that has let them fester. I saw her as a strong, empowered woman who could unite the country and create waves in the political world. I recognized at that moment that this was what I had felt for a long time but was too afraid to admit, not only out loud but to myself as well. I would not, however, fully understand that fear until later.

So, on Tuesday, March 3rd, I went to the polls and voted for Elizabeth Warren. Then two days later, following a poor showing on Super Tuesday, she dropped out of the race. That is when everything hit me. 

I had a moment where I felt like I should have done more. I should have outwardly supported Warren from the start and volunteered for her from the very beginning. By being too afraid to take a stance, I had become a part of the problem. 

That problem being the sexism and misogyny deeply embedded in our society. When trying to work out picking between Bernie and Warren, I laid out my concerns for each candidate. For Bernie, those were quite clear to me, but for Warren, I could only pin down one substantial reason, and everything else I was concerned about with her was fear. woman with highlight on her cheekThat fear can be broken down into two parts: One, I was afraid of the backlash from Bernie supporters who felt that Warren was not progressive enough. And two, I was afraid of having a woman running again in the general election. 

Breaking down the first part, many people in my life are Bernie supporters, and I would consider myself one as well. I have seen some of his supporters, however, attack any candidate who was not Bernie by calling them out for being a part of the establishment. That left a bad taste in my, and many other people's mouths who felt that they were each just supporting the person they thought would make the president. In the case of supporting Warren, it was quite frustrating to be in support of another candidate with similarly progressive plans, and then be attacked for it. So for fear of being criticized, I delayed making a choice between the two.

As for the second part, I did a lot of soul searching to realize that I had internalized a lot of the misogyny seen early on in this election. Elizabeth Warren was punished for being a competent, angry, and powerful woman. Men who fit that description are seen as strong leaders who can unite the country, while women with these qualities are seen as bitchy and shrill. The society we live in does not want to see these traits in women. When you look at the way Warren was criticized in comparison to Bernie on Medicare for All, for example, you can clearly see the discrepancies.

A big factor in many people's choices was fear over electability when it came to the general election. People are scared after Hilary Clinton, that a woman is not someone who can win. I am ashamed to say that I had this fear as well. 

And when Warren dropped out, I was angry at myself for falling into what everyone else was saying. And I was angry at other people who were naive enough to say that sexism and racism played no role in the fact that the race was now narrowed down to two white men. So, I grieved for Elizabeth Warren and what we would lose with her presence in the race. And I grieved for the women who have been waiting lifetimes to see themselves represented in the White House.       

And there is something I want to say about grieving for Elizabeth Warren. You are allowed to do so no matter who you support. If you were Bernie or Biden all the way, you can still take a moment to recognize what Elizabeth Warren accomplished as a nominee and what her dropping out means for the representation of women.

With all that being said, I will take my anger and regret and turn it into a passion to see that Bernie Sanders becomes the Democratic nominee. I am in no way disappointed to have him represent the Democratic party. He promises a revolution which I believe he will do anything he can to achieve that, but we the people cannot stop there. 

Whether the nominee is Bernie or Biden, we all have to stand behind the Democrat with full force to defeat Donald Trump. Both of them can win, and both of them can lose. It is all going to come down to how we organize around them. time for changeAnd our work is still not done once one of them is, hopefully, elected. All problems will not be magically solved once they are inaugurated. We must advocate for the issues that matter most to us and push our elected officials. 

Changing systems and prejudice takes time and energy that all of us must fight for. It is the only hope we have to create a society where we do not have to be afraid of supporting the people that look like us.