The Misplaced Confidence of Men Running for President

Michael Bloomberg and Deval Patrick’s late entries into the 2020 race put the male savior complex on full display

Credit: Scott Eisen/Getty

SoSo much for whittling down the field of Democratic presidential candidates. The same week that former New York City mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg filed paperwork to get on the ballot, former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick announced his presidential bid, as well. We’re less than three months away from the Iowa caucuses.

If Bloomberg makes a formal announcement, as expected, that will be 19 Democrats running to lead the country, 14 of them men. These late entries can be chalked up to a few things: fear of Elizabeth Warren and her focus on the uber-wealthy (Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos reportedly asked Bloomberg to consider running a few months ago), a belief that only a moderate male can beat Donald Trump (despite a record number of women winning seats in Congress), and good old-fashioned savior complexes.

It takes a pretty healthy ego to believe that, despite a field of well-liked and accomplished candidates, you’re the one who needs to step in and save the day. That’s why it doesn’t surprise me that it’s men who are throwing their hat in this late in the game.

Study after study shows that men are more likely to believe themselves ready to run for office or able to hold a political position, no matter what their experience, while women are far less likely to believe the same about themselves — even if they have a lot of experience.

Despite that confidence, the men who are so eager to run for office right now are extraordinarily wrong for the political and cultural moment we’re in. Patrick, for example, pulled strings to make sure his brother-in-law, who was accused of rape, wouldn’t have to register as a sex offender. Bloomberg has a history of saying inappropriate and sexist things about women, including a comment about blow jobs that was directed at the women in the room.

We’re in a post-#MeToo world — a country that’s completely different from the one in which those men rose to power. That’s why Bloomberg’s comments or Patrick’s string-pulling (or Joe Biden’s shoulder rubs) won’t — and shouldn’t — be brushed off in the way they might have been a few years ago.

So perhaps some of the men running for president should take a beat, and realize that the country doesn’t necessarily need a savior. It needs a leader.

Feminist author & columnist. Native NYer, pasta enthusiast.