The Rush to Write Off Elizabeth Warren Is Making the Hillary Generation Furious

Progressive women feel they are being erased from the Democratic presidential primary

Amy Sullivan
GEN
Published in
5 min readFeb 19, 2020

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Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

SShould Elizabeth Warren drop out? On one level, it’s a natural question to ask after the one-time Democratic front-runner finished in a disappointing third place in the Iowa caucuses and fourth in her neighboring state of New Hampshire. In presidential politics, few candidates — male or female — ever survive the harsh consequences of underperforming.

On another level, the sentiment is utterly oblivious to the fury and hurt bubbling up among the millions of women who have supported Warren’s campaign. Three years after Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump, the political class seems dangerously out of touch with women’s broiling resentment over the sense that being smart and competent won’t ever be enough.

I have spent many hours over the past three years interviewing, as part of a book project, a group of women who met as freshmen at the University of Michigan in the mid-1960s. Like many of their baby boomer peers, these women watched as men with equivalent levels of education — in some cases their own spouses — out-achieved and out-earned them. They straddled career and family obligations, exhausting themselves on the infamous “second shift” while husbands and male colleagues fired up the grill on summer weekends and then gave themselves the rest of the year off domestic duties.

For many of these women, electing Hillary Clinton was supposed to be a form of validation — a final, irrefutable sign that as complicated and frustrating and sometimes disillusioning as their adult lives had been, the general trajectory was toward progress.

But with Clinton’s defeat to a man most of them regarded as her intellectual and professional inferior, these women and their peers faced a pair of startling revelations. They might not live to see a woman elected president of their country. And the progress they had taken for granted might be reversible — or, worse, an illusion.

It’s enough to make a woman livid. Indeed, as the Democratic presidential primaries hurtle toward Super Tuesday with the once-formidable candidacy of Kamala Harris already

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Amy Sullivan
GEN
Writer for

Chicago-based journalist covering religion, politics, and culture. Former TIME magazine editor and author of THE PARTY FAITHFUL. Sweet Jesus, hold my mule.