Four months after 2016 election, many of us still spend time pondering the question, “Seriously, how on earth did that happen?” Time magazine contributor and “Broad Influence” author Jay Newton-Small, who covered Clinton’s campaign for Time, lent a few insights at NARAL’s 22nd annual San Francisco Power of Choice Luncheon the afternoon of March 2.
“Women vote a lot more than men do,” Newton-Small told the assembled crowd. “In presidential elections, on average, women vote ten percent more than men. And they already make up 53 percent of the electorate. So we are the bosses.”
This leads to an inevitable question. “The Number One question I get is, ‘If women voters are so powerful, then why did Hillary lose?’” she said.
“Bernie could scream at you, basically, for 40 minutes and you’d be like ‘Wow! Scream at me for 40 more,’” Newton-Small observed. “Hillary would raise her voice and everyone would be like, ‘Oh my god, why is Mom yelling at me? She’s so shrill.’”
“And that’s a real problem,” she continued. “We don’t have enough powerful women voices to be heard yet that when women raise their voices in anger, in passion, in excitement, that the hairs on the back of [people’s] neck rises. And the only solution to that, unfortunately, is just getting used to hearing more women speak powerfully.”
“When you think about female executives that have been elected globally — Angela Merkel, Margaret Thatcher, Theresa May, even Dilma Rousseff, these are women who are very pragmatic,” Newton-Small pointed out. “That is the role that we expect our women leaders to be in. They’re sort of like boxed into being the mom role, to being the responsible person behind holding the purse strings.”
“We need to get much more used to hearing women soar and inspire,” she said. And we may need to confront a curious double-standard with female politicians.
“Women voters are a lot tougher, frankly, on women candidates than they are on male candidates,” Newton-Small noted. “Women voters put themselves into the shoes of female candidates in ways that they don’t for male candidates. They don’t look at male candidates’ life choices and say ‘Hey, I wouldn’t have done that, therefore I’m not going to vote for him.’ But they do do that with women candidates.”
All that said, there is still reason for optimism for women who seek elected office.
“I take a lot of hope out of the election results because we see so many women spurred to action,” said Newton-Small. “You look at Congress and state legislatures across the country, and we’re at about 25 to 28 percent representation depending on the chambers. We’re just on the cusp of critical mass in so many different areas.”
“If we can just get there, we’ll see what happens when women rule the world.”