By Tom Watson
You’ve been in one of those arguments, right? Discuss some public policy and its effect on minorities and you’re playing “the race card.” Talk about women and it’s “the gender card.”
It’s tiresome old hackery that always – in every instance – reveals more about the attitudes of those claiming a “card” is being played than those ostensibly playing one.
So how to respond? Well, Hillary gave us all a Jedi Master level lesson during her excellent Q&A on Facebook.
Here’s the background: Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell attacked Hillary in a campaign appearance, saying "first of all, I don't think arguing 'vote for me because I'm a woman' is enough." Later, a reporter said the Republican said that "the gender card alone isn't enough."
On Facebook, Laura Bassett asked Hillary if she’d heard McConnell’s remarks and how to respond. And then Hillary pulled out the lightsaber:
“Wow. If that’s what he said, Mitch McConnell really doesn’t get it. There is a gender card being played in this campaign. It’s played every time Republicans vote against giving women equal pay, deny families access to affordable child care or family leave, refuse to let women make decisions about their health or have access to free contraception. These aren’t just women’s issues, they are economic issues that drive growth and affect all Americans. Anyone who doesn’t get that doesn’t understand what our lives are like."
Zap! And in a galaxy far, far away the GOP leader licked his wounds. Well maybe not – there’s a deficit of shame in that particular precinct. But for #HillaryMen, the response was letter perfect and gives us a clear-eyed example of why gender matters deeply in this race.
We just hope that Republicans like Mitch McConnell continue to underestimate its importance, right through next November.
As her campaign later said on Twitter - “that's why you don't try to pick a fight on women's economic security with Hillary Clinton.”
Peter Daou and Tom Watson founded #HillaryMen to provide actionable analysis of the 2016 campaign focusing on the gender barrier in U.S. politics. Peter is a former senior digital adviser to Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative. He is a veteran of two presidential campaigns (Kerry '04 and Clinton '08). Tom is an author and Columbia University lecturer who advises companies and non-profits on social activism.