By Katie Savinelli
A record number of candidates took the stage on Oct. 15 at the fourth Democratic debate in Westerville, Ohio. Four of the 12 candidates are women — the most who’ve ever run for a major-party nomination. The surge of women running for office is due to many factors, such as Hillary Clinton’s success in 2016 and the growing notion that women can — and will — hold as much political power as men do.
The debate, hosted by CNN and The New York Times, took place at Otterbein University. President Donald Trump’s possible impeachment, health care, Russian involvement and assault weapons were just a handful of topics the candidates addressed. Two prominent candidates were Sen. Kamala Harris and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who promoted their agendas while focusing on women’s rights.
Harris, a lawyer and politician, is currently serving as the junior U.S. senator for California. She previously served as the 27th District Attorney of San Francisco from 2004 to 2011, and 32nd Attorney General of California from 2011 until 2017, according to a Business Insider summary.
“[Trump] has consistently, since he won, been selling out the American people,” Harris said. “As a former prosecutor, I know a confession when I see it. He is indeed the most corrupt, unpatriotic president we’ve ever had.”
According to a poll taken at Monmouth University, former Vice President Joe Biden is currently leading the male Democratic candidates with 25 percent of voter support, followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders at 14 percent. Sen. Elizabeth Warren currently has 28 percent, the highest among the women candidates.
Klobuchar is also a lawyer, serving as the senior U.S. senator from Minnesota. She previously served as the Hennepin County Attorney in Minneapolis. During the debate, she was asked what she thinks about people who fear impeachment is a distraction that, in the long run, could backfire on Democrats.
“We have a constitutional duty to pursue this impeachment, but we also can stand up for America,” Klobuchar said. “So whether it is workers’ issues, whether it is farmers’ issues.”
According to a recent Quinnipiac poll, 62 percent of women disapprove of Trump’s handling of the presidency, compared to 49 percent of men.
Women have stepped up political activity recently, with the historic 2018 midterms seeing the election of more than 100 women Congress members. Clinton, the first woman to secure a major-party nomination for the presidency, sculpted a track other women are beginning to follow. It is not hard to believe that more women in high leadership positions can serve as role models for young girls.
Since Clinton broke the barrier of women in politics, it has likely made other political seats seem more accessible. More women in Congress may mean a higher chance for women around the country to get what they have asked for in past elections.
“I have not heard nearly one word, with all of these discussions about health care, on women’s access to reproductive healthcare, which is under full-on attack in America today,” Harris said after hearing from Biden and Sanders on general health care goals.
“There are states that have passed laws that will virtually prevent women from having access to reproductive health care, and it is not an exaggeration to say women will die — poor women, women of color — will die because these Republican legislatures in these various states who are out of touch with America are telling women what to do with our bodies,” Harris said.
Historically, women are more likely to lean Democratic, according to public opinion polls. Only 44 percent of men lean Democratic, but 56 percent of women do, according to a Pew Research Center study. Yet no matter who wins the 2020 election, it is clear that in the coming years, women will shape the policy agenda of the Trump administration, the 116th Congress and in-state capitals around the nation.
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Pixabay.
Katie Savinelli is a sophomore multiplatform journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.