Not to get all gender politicky, but does it strike anyone else as slightly odd, if not patently absurd, that so few women have entered the DNC fray? After the election Americans just went through, not to mention the guy who wound up winning, you’d think Democratic women would have plenty to say—not just about the direction of their party but also about the state of women’s leadership in our political system. (In a nutshell: improving but still pathetic.) Say what you like about Trump’s peculiar charms, he won by loudly running as an unreconstructed comic-book tough guy vowing to swagger in and rescue America from all the lily-livered unmanliness of recent decades. He was the ultimate “Who’s your daddy?” revanchist. With a character like that in the White House, you’d expect women to be lining up to push back.
There are, in fact, early signs of rallying at the grassroots. The folks at EMILY’s list report that donations are flowing in at an impressive rate for what is typically a dead period for fundraising. “We’ve raised over half-million dollars since Election Day,” Marcy Stech, the group’s communications chief, tells me. “Roughly a third of donors to come in are new.”
More anecdotally, the group is also seeing a rise in women looking to run for office. “We have long known at Emily’s List that women who want to run for office for the first time tend to do so for two reasons,” says Stech. “One, they want to fix something. And, two, they’re mad as hell. Right now, we have a beautiful combination of both those things. Women are ready to step up.”
Meanwhile, the new political incubator She Should Run reports that more than 4,500 women have signed up to run for office through its web site.
With so many gals fired up to demand a seat at the table, surely one woman wants to organize the charge.
For years now, Republicans have been fretting about their lady problems. As many of the party’s female activists are forever pointing out, women are not some quirky subgroup of voters to be patronized. They are a solid majority of the overall electorate—and, vast and varied though their perspectives may be, they consistently trend Democratic.
Trump does not fundamentally alter that dynamic. Indeed, the 2016 elections have left women even more wildly underrepresented in the ranks of GOP leadership. The number of Republican women in the Senate has shrunk to five (poor Kelly Ayotte), their representation in the House to 21, and their representation in House leadership from three down to one. (None of the conference’s half-dozen leadership posts in the Senate will be held by a woman.) And while it’s early yet, thus far Trump’s White House—the sparkling Ivanka notwithstanding—isn’t shaping up to be a hotbed of female leadership.
There will, however, be at least one new female power-player on the scene: The head of the RNC. Outgoing chairman Reince Preibus, on his way to be Trump’s chief of staff, pushed for a Midwestern gal to take his place. Going forward, Michigan GOP chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel—a niece of Mitt’s whom Trump likes to refer to as “his Romney”—will become the committee chief.