The case for an all female Democratic ticket in 2020


Tulsi Gabbard, Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris have all said they are running for president in 2020.  As of January 21st there are no other women on the list of probable or possible candidates.

As I wrote here, and keep reminding my friends, I think the Democrats need a Plan B to run against somebody other than Trump should he for whatever reason not be in the race. (I suggested their GOP’s best bet to heal a fractured party would be Romney/Flake.)

Whoever the Republicans run, I think it is fascinating to consider what would happen if the Democrats nominated an all female ticket. I don’t rule this out as a viable and highly electable ticket no matter who of the four women are selected and who runs for the top spot and who for the veep. There are 16 possible combinations. Consider each one on the merits. Which one sounds like a winner?

Certainly the conventional wisdom is that if a woman is to run on the presidential ticket it has to be balanced with a male. Hillary Clinton selected less than a household name to run with her, Tim Kaine. John McCain did the same with Sarah Palin as did Walter Mondale who selected Geraldine Ferraro.

Warren, Harris, and Gillibrand are already, if not household names, are well-known. The less known Tulsi Gabbard whose unique military background for a woman candidate for president adds to her allure will she be well known if she stays in the race and has a respectable showing in Iowa. By coming out early they will get lots of publicity, some generated merely because they are telegenic women, but if they become credible candidates they will get more and more air time.

Now it turns out that Donald Trump might have selected Joni Ernst.  Think of that. Instead of plaster faced Mike Pence gazing worshipful at the back of Trump’s head, we’d have Joni. Consider the dynamics of having another women in the White House jockeying for power with Ivanka and Melania, and of course the Kellyanne Conway who Cliff Sims, in “Team of Vipers” calls “the American Sniper of West Wing marksmen” and describes her agenda as “survival over all others, including the president. (See “New book details an obscentity-shouting, unhinged Trump” by Doug Thompson.)

But, as I seem to do all to frequently what with my Trump-adled brain, I digress.

I’m not going to explore potential drawbacks of having each of these four women running together,  for example their past positions on progressive issues like Tulsi Gabbards’s being a vocal opponent of same-sex unions or some of the actions Kamala Harris took when she was California attorney general. Each brings strengths and weakness to the race. Likewise I won’t get into which pairing would stand the best chance of winning. That is the subject for another column.

Instead I’ll share some of the feedback I got from more than a half-dozen anti-Trump men and women I talked to during the day about this notion and then get into some relationship psychology (my area of expertise).

On the negative side the main, really the only, argument I heard was that blue-collar America wasn’t ready for two women on a presidential ticket.

I countered that by noting how close the next election is likely to be. I suggested that it wouldn’t take too many women in swing states to give the electoral college to the Democrats. These are the rust belt states which by hook and crook handed the election to Trump. There may be many women who voted for Trump but were disgusted with him that they are ready to vote for an all female Democratic Party ticket. They might think twice about voting for two male Democrats, and here is where the psychology comes into the equation.

Much of my 40 plus year career as a psychotherapist was spent counseling women in bad marriages, not always with dramatically abusive husbands but with husbands who didn’t appreciate them for who they were. They came in feeling depressed, anxious, or both. There was no formal diagnosis for what was causing their distress because it was feeling they were in a marriage with a husband felt superior to them. They said in one way or another that they didn’t feel fulfilled. Underlying their problem was low self-esteem, and most of the therapy my colleagues and I did was based on improving their sense of worth as women and as human beings.

Some of these women got divorced because their husbands wouldn’t change, others stood up to them and their husbands actually discovered they liked their newly self-confident wives.

How many Republican women are out there in blue-collar America who feel put down, demeaned, or disrespected by their husbands even in minor ways?

Some of them might even lead their Republican voting husbands to think they are voting for the GOP ticket, and cast their secret ballot in defiance of their husband as a quiet expression of female empowerment.

How many of these Republican women will either shout out loud, or say to themselves, “I’m sick and tired of this and I’m not going to take it anymore.”


  • Sen. Kamala Harris, California, January 3, 2017 – present, Previous elected offices: District Attorney San Francisco, California Attorney General
  • Age 54, Born Oakland, CA, Married, Has no children, but through her marriage has two stepchildren, Other: Is of Africa and American and Indian heritage.
  • Education: Howard University (BA), University of California, Hastings (JD)
  • Tidbit: Harris’s parents divorced when she was 7, and her mother was granted custody of the children by court-ordered settlement. She graduated from Montreal’s Westmount High School in Québec,

AFTERTHOUGHT: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at 29 has a a few more years to be president (you have to be at least 35).

Breaking News: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) all won spots on the high-profile committee on Tuesday, two sources told POLITICO

There are definitely up and coming women in the freshman class of the House to watch in the future. Politico Magazine has a photo essay on all 37 of the new female members of Congress  “We call ourselves the badasses.”


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Rowdy Kavanaugh fight defined Democrats

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., left, and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., confer before questioning Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as he testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Democrats don’t have the votes to block Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. But that didn’t stop them from putting up a rowdy, leave-nothing-on-the-table fight during four days of Senate confirmation hearings that marked a new stage in the party’s resistance to President Donald Trump.

From the moment that the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman gaveled in the first session, the proceedings were tumultuous, disrupted first by Democratic senators objecting to the rules and then by protesters shouting “Sham president, sham vote” and other chants.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, an 84-year-old Iowa Republican, later said it was like nothing he had ever experienced during 15 Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

The bedlam is unlikely to change any votes in the Senate. The mathematic march toward Kavanaugh’s confirmation at month’s end remains the same in the Senate, where Republicans hold a 51-49 edge. Still, the battle may have changed the Democrats, who are being transformed by a new generation of politicians spoiling for a fight with Trump, even if it creates political challenges for some Democratic candidates in the November election.

“Sometimes you just have to make a stand,” said Brian Fallon, a former top adviser to Hillary Clinton and the Senate’s top Democrat, New York’s Chuck Schumer. Fallon’s organization, Demand Justice, is leading the opposition to Kavanaugh.

Fallon compared the decision on the court nominee to big votes of the past such as the Iraq War authorization that end up defining lawmakers’ careers.

“This vote is not going to age well,” Fallon said. He is holding out hope that not only will Democrats reject Kavanaugh, but that two pivotal Republicans, Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, will join in to help stop the confirmation.

“Democrats should fight like hell,” he said, “even if it’s not going to sway Susan Collins.”

Republicans have been eager to capitalize on the political “circus,” as they called the hearing, particularly as potential 2020 presidential hopefuls Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey took turns aggressively questioning Kavanaugh in what many saw as a prelude to presidential primary campaigns.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., portrayed the Democratic Party as dominated by “unhinged” protesters and aligned with liberals calling to abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The second-ranking Republican, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, bemoaned the “mob rule” at the hearings.

Trump took on his potential 2020 rivals directly. During campaign stops for GOP candidates challenging Senate Democrats this fall in Montana and North Dakota, states where Trump remains popular, he ridiculed Democrats as “making fools out of themselves.”

“The way they’re screaming and shouting, it’s a disgrace to our country actually,” Trump said Friday during a fundraiser in Fargo, North Dakota, for the GOP opponent to Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp. “I’ll be running against them and I look so forward to it.”

With the midterms less than two months away, Kavanaugh’s nomination carries political risks for both parties as they potentially alienate the large swath of independent voters who have big say in elections.

“Independents are looking for things to work,” said David Winston, a Republican pollster. But he said the showy, disruptive display at the Kavanaugh hearing “reinforces their concerns of people not focusing on the challenges the country faces.”

Democratic senators running for re-election in states where Trump is popular have the most to lose from the party’s Supreme Court fight.

Sens. Joe Donnelly in Indiana or Claire McCaskill in Missouri may benefit from a court battle that energizes the Democratic base. They need heavy voter turnout in metro Indianapolis and Kansas City, Democratic strongholds, if they have any hope of carrying otherwise red states that Trump won in 2016.

Yet the court fight might be unhelpful as some Democrats, including Heitkamp in North Dakota and Sen. Joe Manchin in West Virginia, try to appeal to the moderate Republicans and independents they need to win over.

“It’s probably the last thing that Democrats running for re-election in red states want to be talking about,” said Alex Conant, a Republican strategist and former top aide to Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

Before the hearings began, Schumer gathered Democrats for a weekend conference call to plot strategy. They debated options, Schumer said, but decided on a strategy of staying in the room for questions, protest and disruption.

At a time when Democrats are churning as a party, they’re also awakening to the political potency of judicial nominees, a longtime GOP priority.

Gone are the niceties and overtures of an earlier era, when senators deferred to a president’s prerogative to put in place a qualified nominee of the commander in chief’s choosing.

Trump is a different kind of president, they say, and the Senate a changed institution after President Barack Obama’s pick for the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland, was denied a hearing or vote.

Schumer, on Friday, seemed pleased with the result of the hard-edged approach. He said in a statement that Democrats “were able to shine a bright light — for the American people and Republican Senators to see — on Judge Kavanaugh’s troubling views on women’s rights, presidential power, and protections for people with pre-existing conditions.”

“This was a good week.”


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