Meredith C. Carroll: ‘I’m speaking’ and our daughters are listening
“I’m speaking,” a calm and cool Kamala Harris repeated to Mike Pence when he interrupted her more than 10 times throughout the course of their Oct. 7 vice presidential debate.
Notwithstanding his serial incivility, Pence still wasn’t as prolific an interruptor as his boss the week prior. At one point during the Sept. 29 presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, the former interrupted the latter 10 times in a single three-minute stretch. The difference was Biden appeared vexed by Trump’s boorishness while Harris maintained a steely composure. As it turns out, women are old pros when it comes to men treating them with derision.
The idea of a Black woman as one of a major political party’s White House nominees a generation ago was about as plausible as a reality star losing the presidential election popular vote and still going on to proliferate and subsequently contract a deadly virus for which he received treatment that included embryonic tissue literally days after nominating a profoundly anti-choice woman to the Supreme Court. Yet, here we are.
Despite Trump and Pence doing their best Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble schtick by trying to drag women, people of color, the LGBTQ community and immigrants (except the ones married to, divorced from or working minimum wage for Trump) back to the Stone Age, hope springs eternal in a Harris candidacy. (And not just because she didn’t wilt but rather flourished under Pence’s patronizing. But yes, that too.)
How our daughters have been reared to know their worth over the past few decades has evolved measurably from how our moms raised us and also how they grew up. Except based on the continued and fundamental imbalance between men and women, including the ongoing inequitable pay and degradation of working women and mothers, and according to Michelle Obama, it is evident that our work isn’t done. Not even close.
“The average father today does believe that their girl can be anything she wants to be and they’re delivering those messages around the dinner table,” the former first lady said on her eponymous podcast that premiered last month. “We delivered the messages but we didn’t take them to the board room. We didn’t change our workplaces. We didn’t institutionalize the values that we’ve been teaching this generation of kids. Now they’re growing up and leaving the dinner table and going out into the world and going, ‘The world doesn’t look like what I was taught back at home.’”
Obama’s husband and podcast guest, Barack, agreed. Except “there are just some things we can’t do by ourselves,” he said.
That includes systematizing women in positions of power. To be sure, though, voting for Biden because of Harris isn’t the same as voting for any woman just because she’s a woman. As is being meticulously illustrated in Amy Coney Barrett’s SCOTUS confirmation hearings, not all women nominated for powerful jobs are created equal. Some battle tooth and nail to prop women up, all while others hammer away to keep them bitch-slapped down.
It’s clear that the principles Harris and Biden have pushed to the forefront of the election are not priorities shared by Trump and Pence. Instead of thoughtfully criticizing the merits of the Biden/Harris platform and defending his own record with demonstrable facts following the vice presidential debate, Trump reached into his dog whistle drawer and picked out the sexist and racist ones to blow, calling Harris “unlikeable” and “a monster.” (On the other hand, if those two traits should disqualify any of the aforementioned candidates, obviously Harris is safe.)
Single-issue voters may end up sticking with Trump/Pence because of an abiding appreciation for, say, their ongoing crusade to restrict women’s reproductive freedom, build a border wall with Mexico (which is coming along how, by the way?), run the economy into the ground via a series of shortsighted and self-serving measures, and for people in all states, not just the red ones, to spread COVID-19 how and whenever they want.
Hopefully, if 2020 manages to eke out anything worth redeeming, it’ll be a new regime that seeks to amplify, not silence voices that have been discriminated against and marginalized for far too long. Because the single issue worth voting for on Nov. 3 is hardly a single issue at all.
More at MeredithCarroll.com and on Twitter @MCCarroll.