“Pinky Promise?”

Barbara Lee | Mar 5, 2020


With Elizabeth Warren, the final Democratic woman senator bowing out of the 2020 race, it is easy for those of us who champion women’s political representation to feel disappointment. However, even when women don’t win at the ballot box, it doesn’t mean we’re not making progress. I always say monumental change often happens in micro steps.

Six women, four of whom are sitting United States Senators and two of whom are women of color, ran for president this cycle – that is progress.

For the first time in US history, there was more than one woman candidate on the presidential debate stage – that is progress.

Each of the women in the 2020 race broke barriers, challenged stereotypes, and helped us reimagine what a presidential candidate looks like – that is progress.

The fact that an unprecedented number of women ran for president during the centennial year of women’s suffrage in the United States is only fitting. It’s important to remember that there were over 70 years between the Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention and the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920.  Change can be slow, but big breakthroughs can happen at any moment. So, we have to keep dreaming bigger and pushing further—and never, ever give up.

To that end, I challenge each of us to take up Senator Warren’s “pinky promise,” and remind those around us that running for president is “what girls do.” We know from our research at the Barbara Lee Family Foundation that voters’ unconscious bias remains a very real obstacle, especially when it comes to women running for executive office. While we may not get to see a woman in the Oval Office in 2020, we can help women who run in the future by challenging that bias each and every day.

Let’s take a moment to grieve, and get right back to work.

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