We asked experts of gender, race, and politics to weigh in with their “hot takes” on Wednesday night’s presidential debate. Click on each for more detail on each insight.
Clinton touts her experience to counter concerns about whether a woman is strong enough to handle our nation’s foreign policy. – Mirya Holman (Tulane University)
In the third presidential debate, Hillary Clinton talked policy and used her experience (30 years of it) to separate herself from Donald Trump. In the debate, Clinton noted that “on the day when I was in the situation room, monitoring the raid that brought Osama bin Laden to justice, [Trump] was host ‘The Celebrity Apprentice.’” Throughout the debate, Clinton played up her foreign policy experience and knowledge. My research with Jennifer Merolla and Liz Zechmeister shows that elevated concerns about terrorism harm can female candidates, but that experience – and partisanship – can soften the effect. Clinton’s deliberate choice to play up her national security experience was aimed at neutralizing concerns that persist among some voters regarding whether women can lead effectively on foreign policy. Our research suggests such a strategy may very well be successful.
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Hillary Clinton is going to be the next President of the United States; however, Trump's efforts to invalidate her win remind us that the sexism, racism and misogyny which have animated his campaign will not cease with her election. – Anna Sampaio (Santa Clara University)
Much like the first Presidential debate, in this second debate Hillary Clinton proved that Hilary Clinton is going to be the next President of the United States. Her performance in Wednesday’s debate merely underscored what has been apparent for weeks; namely, that she has run a substantive campaign, that she is the most qualified candidate in the race, and that she is the only person in the race capable of enacting significant reforms on issues of concern –from immigration to ISIS. However, Trump’s efforts to undercut this election and invalidate her win also remind us that the sexism, racism, and misogyny which have animated his campaign will not magically cease with her election and will evolve into new battles in the coming months.
Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies and Political Science and Director of Ethnic Studies, Santa Clara University
Clinton debate rhetoric is the rhetoric of the first woman president. – Jennie Sweet-Cushman (Chatham University)
Nobody may have “more respect for women” than Donald Trump, but in the final debate of this presidential campaign nobody better articulated the policy needs of women and children better than Hillary Clinton. Clinton’s continued focus on women and children in framing the issues prompts me to strongly suggest that the culmination of centuries of women’s under representation is playing out before our eyes. Clinton has asserted that substantive representation of women is her number one priority if she wins and that focus is, in itself, historic.
Assistant Professor of Political Science
'You Should Meet With Some Of the Women I Have Met With.' – Erin Heidt-Forsythe (Penn State University)
As I noted in my previous hot take on the second debate, women were seemingly everywhere in the second debate, while concrete policies—particularly those about abortion and contraception—were invisible. In contrast, the third debate evoked a discussion of abortion unprecedented in presidential debates. When asked “how far the right [for abortion] goes” in regards to late term abortion, Hillary Clinton responded:
“The kinds of cases that fall at the end of pregnancy are often the most heartbreaking, painful decisions for families to make. I have met with women who toward the end of their pregnancy get the worst news one could get, that their health is in jeopardy if they continue to carry to term or that something terrible has happened or just been discovered about the pregnancy. I do not think the United States government should be stepping in and making those most personal of decisions.”
For scholars of reproductive politics and the gender politics of Hillary Clinton, this statement was incredible for a number of reasons. Hillary Clinton has a tumultuous history with abortion and abortion rights activists, noted in Rebecca Traister’s 2010 book, Big Girls Don’t Cry. Traister observes how, from the early 1990s (when the Clinton administration said that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare”) to her 2005 speech to reproductive rights activists where she said that abortion is a “sad, tragic choice,” Clinton’s rhetoric on reproductive rights created tense relationships with her most staunch supporters. However, her statement during the third debate was one of the clearest signals of support that she has given around abortion access during either her 2008 and 2016 runs for the presidency. While Donald Trump described late term abortion in terms of what Dorothy Roberts (1998) calls the “maternal/fetal conflict,” whereby the interests of the mother are in opposition to the interests of her child, Clinton took a feminist, reproductive justice-oriented approach. Clinton’s statement not only made women central to the discussion of abortion, but also placed the decision in a web of relationships between women and their families as well as their communities. Moving from a “tragic” choice to a question of global reproductive justice, Clinton not only made one of the strongest defenses of abortion in her career, but also reframed the abortion debate in radical ways on a very public stage.
Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies and Political Science, Penn State University
It is unclear if Trump or Clinton will win any new votes with their stated stances on abortion in the third debate. – Mary-Kate Lizotte (Augusta University)
Trump voiced an extreme pro-life position while Clinton indicated a pro-choice position. American public opinion on abortion does not perfectly fit within the strict categories of pro-life and pro-choice. Rather, many Americans appear to support abortion legality under some but not all circumstances (Rose 2007). Unlike many other policy areas, there is not a sizeable gender difference on support for abortion legality; the gap tends to be small and varies in direction depending on what other variables are included in the analysis (Lizotte 2015). Moreover, reproductive rights attitudes did not contribute to the gender gap in voting in the 2012 Presidential Election (Deckman and McTague 2015). In addition, abortion attitudes do not appear to have a greater influence on women’s vote choice in comparison to men (Lizotte 2016). This does not mean that reproductive rights issues do not inform vote choice; it simply does not appear to contribute to the gender gap in vote choice. Existing evidence makes it unclear whether Trump or Clinton will win any new votes with their stated stances on abortion.
Associate Professor of Political Science, Augusta University
GOP will most likely lose women voters which will cost them the presidency and down-ballot elections. – Nadia Brown (Purdue University)
The GOP is loosing its footing with educated White voters – a group that has solidly voted for the Republican Party since the 1970s. Trump is alienating White women voters, particularly, with his use of explicitly racist and xenophobic rhetoric as well as his utter sexist and misogynistic terminology. Further, the reluctance for the party writ large, the campaign surrogates, and Trump himself to unequivocally apologize and denounce sexual assault will hurt the Republican party not only for the race for the presidency but also in down-ballot elections.
Associate Professor of Political Science and African American Studies, Purdue University
Petulance Skulks off the Stage. – Chris Jahnke (Speech Coach and author of The Well-Spoken Woman)
Donald Trump’s inability to respond to challenging questions from a well-prepared moderator or handle criticism from Hillary Clinton once again revealed new depths of shallowness. His petulant behavior cumulated when he stated his refusal to accept the outcome of the voter’s decision on Election Day. Any last gasp at appealing to moderate women voters dissipated when he referred to his opponent as a “nasty woman.”
In all three debate forums, Clinton has demonstrated that preparation is queen. Her qualifications were evident in her rational responses to vital questions and in her decision to ignore her opponent’s childish interruptions and name calling. The debate stage is about demonstrating presidential readiness and it is clear that Clinton is prepared to enter the Oval Office.
Speech coach and author of THE WELL-SPOKEN WOMAN
Trump’s insulting comments poignantly spoke directly to the driving force that carried Obama’s ‘new American electorate’—African American women and Latinas. – Wendy Smooth (The Ohio State University)
While post-debate headlines focused on Trump’s threat to challenge the election outcomes, women voters heard so much more than that last night. Women voters heard a resounding message from Trump that they lack judgment. Trump reiterated his failure to trust women in making their own health care decisions. He furthered his stance that women who come forth with charges of sexual assault should not be believed, but shamed for raising allegations against powerful men. If that weren’t enough, women voters heard the vilest of insults, leveraged at Clinton but felt widely by women, “She is such a nasty woman.” Women of color likely heard that slur at an even higher stinging pitch since the “nasty woman” slur strikes a historic chord tied to the hypersexualization and demonization of women of color, tropes that limit women of color’s access to constructions of ‘true womanhood.’ The effect of such a slur reminds us that even in this unusual election cycle, some traditional elements of campaigns remain intact. In the end, the turnout ground game matters most and last night Trump did everything to ensure Clinton’s turnout ground game is energized. His comments poignantly spoke directly to the driving force that carried Obama’s ‘new American electorate’—African American women and Latinas.
Wendy G. Smooth
Associate Professor of Women’s Gender & Sexuality Studies
The Ohio State University
In many ways, Trump’s comments about immigration last night and at the start of his campaign serve as conceptual bookends for thinking about the Latino/a vote in this election. Trump started this campaign by painting Mexicans as rapists and drug dealers, and he’s ending the campaign by calling those immigrating over the Southern border (who by implication, are likely Latino/a) “bad hombres.” – Andra Gillespie (Emory University)
Because I assume my colleagues are going to talk about Trump’s refusal to promise to accept the election results and his reference to Hillary Clinton as a “nasty woman,” I will defer to their analysis and eloquence on those points. Instead, I want to focus on the hombres.
The second segment of the debate focused on immigration, a topic that heretofore had been given short shrift on the debate stage. While we have known that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton hold opposing viewpoints on this issue, the debate presented an opportunity for the candidates to clarify their positions. For instance, Trump could have clarified his position on his proposed deportation force, and Clinton could have tried to distance herself from President Obama’s robust deportation policies.
What we saw was Donald Trump attacking Latinos/as again. He started his immigration answer by introducing the Angel Moms, mothers of children killed by undocumented immigrants. In appealing to our sympathies for people who have suffered true loss, he also made an implicit claim that undocumented immigrants are criminals. Then he made the claim explicit by calling them “bad hombres.” I happened to be watching the debate with students from my class and another in Emory’s Latino/a Student Center (el Centro Latino), and we were joined by many Latino/a students who happened to be hanging out there that evening. The collective gasp that emerged when Trump uttered the word hombre was palpable.
In many ways, Trump’s comments about immigration last night and at the start of his campaign serve as conceptual bookends for thinking about the Latino/a vote in this election. Trump started this campaign by painting Mexicans as rapists and drug dealers, and he’s ending the campaign by calling those immigrating over the Southern border (who by implication, are likely Latino/a) “bad hombres.”
These kinds of statements have important short and long term implications. In the short term, this will correlate with Clinton outperforming President Obama among Latino/a voters. Keep in mind that in 2012, exit polls showed that Obama won 71% of the Latino/a vote. In the NALEO/Telemundo/Latino Decisions Weekly Tracker poll, Clinton has gained a percentage point in support every week among Latinos/as in the last month. I suspect that after last night’s debate performance, that upward trend will continue.
This has long term implications for the Republican Party’s outreach efforts among Latinos/as. Most observers would trace the decline in Latino/a support for Republican presidential candidates since 2004 to the party’s hardline stance on immigration. Trump has done little to change the impression that the Republican Party is anti-immigrant and anti-Latino/a—in fact, he has reinforced that narrative. As a result, we should expect that the GOP will have continue trouble reaching out to Latino/a voters for the foreseeable future. Nor should we be surprised if Latino/a (particularly non-Cuban) voting behavior starts approximating black voting behavior (an extremely strong Democratic voting bloc with whom the GOP has had a hard time making racial amends).
Associate Professor of Political Science, Emory University
When all else fails, appeal to negative gender stereotypes. – Kathy Dolan (University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee)
In the final debate, Donald Trump made one last attempt to save his faltering campaign by resorting to trying to paint Hillary Clinton as an angry, nasty shrew. First he repeatedly described her as “so angry” in response to a Supreme Court decision and then he referred to her as “such a nasty woman.” At this point in the campaign, it is unlikely these attacks will convince many people, but it is not surprising that he would resort to these tired old tropes.
Professor of Political Science, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee
Being President means never having to say you’re sorry? – Erin Cassese (West Virginia University)
In last night’s debate, Donald Trump again attempted to shift blame for his apparent misdeeds onto his opponent, Hillary Clinton. When pressed on his use of Chinese steel, Trump asked: “Why didn’t you stop me?” When Clinton suggested that many undocumented immigrants in the U.S. pay more federal income tax than Trump does, he again doubled-back on Clinton, stating: “We’re entitled, because of the laws that people like her passed, to take massive amount of depreciation on other charges and we do it…. You should have changed the law when you were a United States Senator.” Trump even took this tack with accusations of sexual misconduct, blaming his accusers of fame-seeking and the Clinton campaign of attempts to discredit him. He capped off these comments by saying: “I didn’t even apologize to my wife, who’s sitting right here, because I didn’t do anything.”
Among Trump’s critics, these statements read as willful ignorance of the policy process. Among his supporters, they drove home Trump’s primary criticism of Hillary Clinton: that in spite of her experience, she’s a weak and ineffectual leader. She’s sneaking around, “with hate in her heart,” attempting to undermine his campaign. It’s unlikely Trump’s comments will attract voters – particularly female voters – who aren’t already solidly in the Trump camp. For many women, Trump’s comments further cast him as a petulant bully or an abusive spouse: If you just behaved, I wouldn’t have gotten so angry. I wouldn’t have done what I did. For Trump, perhaps being President means never having to say he’s sorry.
Associate Professor of Political Science, West Virginia University
The fact that Trump and Clinton are still relatively close in the polls reveals what gender and politics literature has demonstrated for years now: women candidates need to be more highly qualified than males, and even then the double standard still exists. – Vanessa Bouché (Texas Christian University)
The collective evidence from the debates is that 1) Trump lacks a basic understanding of the United States Constitution and the ways in which the American democratic system works; 2) Trump lacks depth and breadth of knowledge on foreign and domestic policy issues; and 3) Trump resorts to name-calling and insults to disguise his ignorance. Despite Clinton’s depth of understanding and relative poise shown in the debates, the fact that Trump and Clinton are still relatively close in the polls reveals what gender and politics literature has demonstrated for years now: women candidates need to be more highly qualified than males, and even then the double standard still exists.
First, let’s take Trump’s lack of knowledge about the Constitution. Contrary to the Sixth Amendment, Trump claimed in the second debate that under his presidency Clinton would “be in jail”—apparently believing that the president has the authority to decide who goes to prison. Trump believes that Senator Clinton could have unilaterally changed the tax code to close the loopholes that allowed him to not pay taxes, stating it’s “her fault” and that “if [she] was an effective senator, [she] could have done it.” He also believes she could have unilaterally restricted trade with China, “She’s been doing this for 30 years. Why the hell didn’t you do it over the last 15, 20 years? You were very much involved.” In the third debate he left open the question of whether he would concede the election, raising questions about a longstanding democratic tradition of peaceful transfer of power. Time after time, he has demonstrated a lack of understanding regarding balance of powers, the limits of congressional and executive authority, and the rule of law.
Beyond his lack of basic knowledge of American government, Trump has demonstrated a troubling lack of understanding of public policy, both foreign and domestic. His policy statements lack substance and depth; they are vacuous, and even dangerous. As Russia is bombing Aleppo and hacking into the American election, he states, “If the United States got along with Russia, it wouldn’t be so bad.” When asked about how his fiscal policy will create jobs, he evades the question by attacking Clinton’s plan and discussing the woes of NAFTA. On free trade, he remarks: “We’re going to make a great trade deal. If we can’t, were going to go our separate ways because it has been a disaster.” This demonstrates not only that he doesn’t have a concrete idea for what the deal would be, but also that he doesn’t actually know whether or not to make a deal. Instead of offering substantive plans regarding most policies, he thinks the American people should “trust him” or “believe him” that everything will be “beautiful” under his presidency.
Given his lack of basic understanding of the American democratic system, and his vacuous understanding of foreign and domestic policy, he has resorted to elementary name-calling, using words like “stupid” to describe our leaders and our country. In the second debate, he stated, “How stupid is our country?” In the third debate, he said that Russia, Iran, ISIS, and Syria’s President Assad are smarter than the current administration, and that, “Nobody can believe how stupid our leadership is.” The icing on the cake was calling his opponent a “nasty woman.” This sums up a Trump candidacy: ignorance and insult. I wonder if Clinton would still be where she is in the polls if she was as ignorant and insulting.
Assistant Professor of Political Science, Texas Christian University
Clinton's third and final debate performance in the general election powerfully married policy expertise with a validation of women's lived experiences. – Rachel VanSickle-Ward (Pitzer College)
Associate Professor of Political Studies, Pitzer College
Donald Trump did little to temper the widespread, persistent doubts that he is fit to serve as President. – Rosalyn Cooperman (University of Mary Washington)
Donald Trump said that he “will tell you at the time” whether he will accept the decision by voters in this election. Donald Trump also said that women who raise claims of sexual assault are seeking “ten minutes of fame.” With these and many other comments in this third and final candidates’ debate Donald Trump did little to temper the widespread, persistent doubts that he is fit to serve as President.
Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Mary Washington
Clinton stayed high and Trump keeps going lower. - Christina Bejarano (University of Kansas)
Trump’s debate performance grew even more unsettling with dangerous rhetoric condoning and even inciting violence and disrespect of basically everyone, even our U.S. democracy. He falls back on monolithic negative stereotypes of racial and ethnic minorities. This includes continued characterizations of undocumented immigrants as lawless drug dealers, without acknowledging their human dignity and contributions to our country.
Associate Professor of Political Science, The University of Kansas
The conditions are right for Hillary Clinton’s campaign to inspire greater political engagement among women and girls. – Christina Wolbrecht (University of Notre Dame)
Should we expect Hillary Clinton’s historic campaign to inspire women, and especially young women, to become more engaged in the political process? Clinton herself has embraced her potential as a political role model. The night she clinched the Democratic nomination, she personally tweeted out a picture of herself dancing with a young girl, writing, “To every little girl who dreams big: Yes, you can be anything you want—even president. This night is for you.”
My research with David Campbell suggests that Clinton may indeed be a political role model—especially for young women. We have found that when women in politics are framed as unusual or symbolic, young girls become more likely to envision themselves as politically-engaged adults. Our most recent work finds that when women are running for an office currently held by a man—that is, when female candidates are novel—younger women in particular become more likely to discuss politics over the course of the campaign.
Female politicians are increasingly common, but the presidency is a political glass ceiling that has yet to be shattered. In 2016 Clinton has embraced her role as a trailblazer for women in presidential politics. Even had she not taken on that mantle, her opponent has ensured that her gender is front and center, from reiterating his claim that Clinton does not have “the presidential look” during the first debate to last night’s interruption to deride Clinton as a “nasty woman.”
Throughout this presidential election, and particularly during the debates themselves, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have reminded voters of Clinton’s unusual and historic status as the first woman running for the highest office in the land. If previous patterns hold, we may find that women and girls have become more engaged in politics as a result.
Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Notre Dame
This election will serve as the first political memory for a generation of young people, and that could mean good prospects for female candidates in the future. – J. Celeste Lay (Tulane University)
Elections are important socializing events for children. For many adolescent girls and boys, the 2016 presidential election and these debates will be their first political memories. Women are more likely than men to mention voting and to mention a family member as part of their first political memories (Yanus and O’Connor 2015). Many young girls, then, are likely to remember whether their parents – especially their mothers (Gidengil, O’Neill and Young 2010) – supported the first woman to be nominated from a major political party for president. Because these memories and relationships have the power to shape future political behavior, if the current gender gap in support for Hillary Clinton holds, it may mean that a generation of young people came of age politically as their mothers, grandmothers and aunts helped to put the first woman into the Oval Office. Because women are more knowledgeable, efficacious and interested in politics in elections with female candidates (Burns, Schlozman, and Verba 2001; Campbell and Wolbrecht 2006; Wolbrecht and Campbell 2007), this momentous election may have ripple effects for many years to come.
Associate Professor of Political Science, Tulane University
Without saying a word, Hillary Clinton reminded us that history is being made in 2016. – Kelly Dittmar (Center for American Women and Politics)
Research on media coverage and commentary of candidates has found, particular at the presidential level, more attention paid to women candidates’ “hair, hemlines, and husbands.” The talk of Clinton’s latest cut or choice of pantsuit (or tunic) elicits a collective eye roll from those of us who know that this type of attention can detract from the credentialing women are required to do to prove that they are capable of being Commander in Chief. That makes me somewhat hesitant to focus here on what Clinton wore on last night’s debate stage, but I will because it mattered in sending a message that Clinton did not communicate in words. As she did when she accepted the Democratic nomination for President, Clinton wore all white, matching the uniform of suffragists who fought for women’s right to vote in the U.S. and UK over a century ago. Clinton joins those crusaders in seeking to open a new door to women’s political participation; this time, to the Oval Office. Without even mentioning her capacity to make history, Clinton gave a symbolic nod to the women on whose shoulders she stands and a wink to the women (and men) watching who knew just how powerful a woman in white can be.
Assistant Professor of Political Science, Rutgers-Camden
Scholar, Center for American Women and Politics, Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers-New Brunswick
Racially coded language of a “rigged election” aggravates the already fragile state of race relations. – Nadia Brown (Purdue University)
Trump’s used of racially coded language – see Tali Mendelberg’s The Race Card – to explicate his claims of a rigged election this November. Racially coded language, rather than overt racist rhetoric, is often used by politicians who do not want to be seen outside of societal norms that promote racial equality and tolerance. For example, Nixon used the term “law and order” and Reagan’s use of the term “states’ rights” were all coded language that stoked fears of racial resentment . Trump is claiming that in inner cities (read: minority communities that tend to heavily vote Democratic) will be places where voter fraud will take place – a claim that has has no evidentiary basis. The Republican presidential nominee has asked supporters, in essence, to form vigilante groups to ensure that these communities are not rigging the election. In sum, Trump’s seemingly unwillingness to accept whatever outcome on November 8th will be points to his continued attempts to aggravate the already fragile state of race relations in this country as well as call into question the citizenship of racial/ethnic minority Americans.
Associate Professor of Political Science and African American Studies, Purdue University
In debate number three Trump was inappropriate, offensive, and incredibly racist and misogynistic, but the shocking part of the night was his rejection of basic principles of democracy. - Amanda Bittner (Memorial University)
While it’s tempting to comment on last night’s debate from the point of a researcher and expert on elections, public opinion, and voting, what we saw was so not “normal” that I hate to even drag real research on real election campaigns into the mix. Debate number three was shocking, as a university instructor (someone who teaches students about the institutions of politics around the world), because it defied all norms of propriety, appropriate behavior, and rhetoric for a Presidential nominee, and also because Trump called into question some pretty basic principles of democracy. Three moments in the debate stood out: the first was “bad hombres”—absolutely inappropriate, offensive, and deeply racist. The second, “such a nasty woman”—again, absolutely inappropriate, offensive, and deeply sexist and misogynistic. This is NOT how presidential candidates ought to speak, and NOT how they have spoken in the past. Individuals who spoke like this would have been absolutely torched as candidates because they would have been breaking the norms of appropriate behavior in society and it would have been considered scandalous. But by debate number three, these gross, disgusting insults of large segments of the population are barely even shocking anymore. They are still completely unacceptable, but they are certainly losing shock value.
What was newly shocking (yes, shocking, even in the wake of Trump’s insistence over the last couple of weeks that the election is rigged against him) is his announcement that he will keep us “in suspense” about whether or not he will accept the results of the election if he does not win. A basic principle of electoral democracy—a principle that I teach my students year after year after year—is that democratic elections confer legitimacy on governments. The idea here is that the opportunity to choose governments means that voters and candidates will obey the decisions that are made by those elected individuals. Whether or not you are satisfied by the government that is elected is irrelevant: you will have an opportunity at the next election to “throw the rascals out” if you are not happy with them. But to even hint that you might not be willing to accept the results of a democratic election is dangerous. Trump is playing a dangerous game, and this is not a schoolyard where you take your ball and go home if your feelings get hurt. This is a presidential election in the most powerful democracy in the world, an election that Trump has clearly not been taking seriously since the moment he threw his hat in the ring. Americans should be worried, and citizens around the world should be worried. There are always ways that we can improve our political institutions to make them more democratic. But that is not what Trump is talking about: he has no real plan for improving the state of democracy in the United States. Instead, his words have the potential to incite riots, especially when taken alongside of the racial hatred and tension he’s fueling on a daily basis. As a researcher and teacher of comparative politics & elections, this election scares me. It’s an election where fear mongering, misinformation, disgusting behavior, and rejection of the principles of democracy are being normalized. It’s shocking.
Associate Professor, Memorial University
While this election has been difficult to watch and understand, I'm happy that it has raised the profile of conversations about gender and women who lead. – Jessica N. Grounds (Solid Grounds Strategy)
Preparing for his impending loss, Donald Trump continues to use gender-laden language that not only sheds light on his disdain for women in positions of power, but also feeds into a narrative that aims to undermine Hillary Clinton’s authority. While this election has been difficult to watch and understand, I’m happy that it has raised the profile of conversations about gender and women who lead. As uncomfortable as it is, it will move our critical work forward.
Jessica N. Grounds
Gender Advisor, Solid Grounds Strategy and Project Mine the Gap
What happens after November 8th? What happens to poor & working class Whites? Do we have an honest conversation about heteropatriarchy? – Nadia Brown (Purdue University)
My biggest concern is what will happen to American society after November 8th. When we wake up on November 9th – presumably with a new president elect garnered after a fair election- how will America deal with the racial tensions and gendered repercussions of the Trump campaign? Will the country begin to have honest conversations about misogyny, sexual assault, rape culture, and sexism? Will we hold ourselves accountable for allowing (White) state-sponsored heteropatriarchy for wrecking havoc on the lives of all Americans – and colonial subjects? As a pillar of White supremacy, heteropatriarchy (along with slavery/colonialism, genocide/colonialism, and Orientialism/war) have sustained and maintained a system of inherent inequality – see work by Andrea Smith. A government built on institutional violence and domination of minorities (i.e, women, racial/ethnic minorities, lesbian, gay, queer and transgendered peoples) seeks to marginalize and deny basic human rights for this population. Perhaps Trump’s rhetoric and actions have awakened a population of people who failed to recognize the harm that heteropatriarchy does to society – to men, women, and trans folks. Lastly, as Jennifer Hochshield reminds us, we need to pay serious attention to the political and social anxieties of poor and working class Whites who feel left out of the current inclusive rhetoric of America that seemingly accepts gays, Blacks, Muslims, and Latinos (among other marginalized identities). What will happen to this group on November 9th? Will their nascent political identities turn into this generation’s Dixiecrats or less policy-minded Tea Party activists? Now that flames of racial resentment and hostilities have come to a head in this election – due in large part to Trump’s rhetoric – will this group seek to form a political bloc? The GOP clearly doesn’t want them and they do not align with the Democrats. How ill this group return to the American polity and allow the new president to govern?
Associate Professor of Political Science and African American Studies, Purdue University