It’s Not Just How Many Women Are Running for Office, It’s How They’re Running

It has been noted that a record number of Democratic women are running for office this year and the message coming out of the primaries is that they are winning. But it’s not just the numbers that define the kind of change we’re seeing. It’s also how they’re running. As an example, take a look at the ad just released by MJ Hegar, who is running to unseat Trump wannabe John Carter in central Texas.

Hegar has an uphill battle in a district that is rated R+10. It stretches from the northernmost suburbs of Austin to Fort Hood and it will be interesting to watch how an ad like that plays out in an area that is dominated by active-duty military. Hegar has obviously adopted the idea of “doors” as a theme for her campaign. The pop-up that appears when you visit her website says:

My whole life has been about opening, pushing, and sometimes kicking through every door in my way.

What kind of Democrat is it going to take to win TX-31? An ass-kicking, motorcycle-riding, Texas Democrat. And that’s exactly the kind of Democrat I am.

Ready for a Congress that opens doors for Americans instead of slamming them in our faces? Then join our campaign by donating today.

She also doesn’t back down at all on the issues. For example, a section on advocating for families and protecting our children’s future reads:

I aspire to leave [our children] a world in which they can breathe clean air, love whomever they want, choose what God they believe in, and safely express who they are.

All of that reminds me of the introductory ad from Amy McGrath, a Democrat running for Congress in Kentucky, that went viral.

But it’s not just women who have served in the military that are shaking things up. Take a look at this compilation of ads that Politico put together a couple of months ago.

The shift that has happened was perhaps best described by Stacey Abrams, who is running to be Georgia’s next governor, when she said, “My being a black woman is not a deficit…It is a strength. Because I could not be where I am had I not overcome so many other barriers. Which means you know I’m relentless, you know I’m persistent, and you know I’m smart.” I recently took at look at how some Native American candidates are embracing the same message.

These women are tossing out the playbook for political campaigns that was written mostly by men and putting their experiences as women front and center to make their case for why voters should support them. They’re breaking down stereotypes and talking about things that have affected women for centuries but have been relegated to the shadows.

In all of this, I am reminded of what Steve Bannon told Joshua Green about his response to Oprah’s speech at the Golden Globes. As is typical of his rhetoric, Bannon overstated the case. But there’s a lot of truth to what he said.

“The anti-patriarchy movement is going to undo ten thousand years of recorded history,” Bannon told Green. “You watch. The time has come. Women are gonna take charge of society. And they couldn’t juxtapose a better villain than Trump. He is the patriarch.”

The fact that a man who put his misogyny on display for everyone to see was elected president in a race against the first woman to run for that office has stirred up something deep all across this country that didn’t just manifest itself in the marches that took place on the weekend of his inauguration. I get the sense that women all over this country said, “That’s enough!” and put their heads down to do whatever it takes to join the struggle against everything Trump represents.

From these campaigns, we see that an awful lot of these women decided to run for office by being their authentic selves, not what the male-dominated political culture has told them they should be. Whether they win or lose, that is a game-changer.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.