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Misogyny, patriarchy, gerontocracy: welcome to America in 2020

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks during a primary election night rally. Credit: AP

Liberal America is facing a strange choice.

Two white men in their late 70s are left to compete for the Democratic Party nomination. Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are fighting it out for the right to take on 73-year old Donald Trump for the presidency.

Gerontocracy is intersecting with patriarchy. And America is the poorer for it.

This was the election year in which women were hoping to break wide open the male-dominated world of US presidential politics.

After the 2016 defeat of Hillary Clinton, the question was whether sexism and misogyny played a role. Credit: AP

After the 2016 defeat of Hillary Clinton, one of the most qualified candidates ever to stand for the presidency, the question was whether sexism and misogyny played a role.

2020 has answered that question in the affirmative.

Senator Elizabeth Warren tested the old rules again by throwing her hat into the ring in this campaign cycle.

Yesterday, she withdrew from the nomination, not exactly hiding her own disillusionment with the process, telling the press: “I was told at the beginning of this whole undertaking that there are two lanes: a progressive lane that Bernie Sanders is incumbent for and a moderate lane that Joe Biden was the incumbent for and there’s no room for anyone else in this. I thought that wasn’t right but evidently I was wrong."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, with her husband Bruce Mann beside her, speaks to the media outside her home after she dropped out of the Democratic presidential race. Credit: AP

I’ve spent a little time with Elizabeth Warren over the last year, talking to her on the campaign trail in South Carolina, and watching her at a couple of the presidential debates and in the spin rooms afterwards.

And this is what I took away from interacting with her: She was by far the smartest and most intellectually accomplished presidential candidate. Yes, she is Harvard law professor, but she is also accessible, affable, and humble. She didn’t travel with a huge entourage; she connected with people of all backgrounds. Unlike many of the men in the race, she was ready for prime time. She had the policies and the stamina.

To put it bluntly, she is smarter, sharper and more impressive than Joe Biden. She is more electable and more thoughtful than Bernie Sanders.

Senator Warren could also be a ruthless debater. Her 30 second demolition of Michael Bloomberg was something to witness. Her few targeted phrases in the Las Vegas debate were worth more than than the $500 million than Bloomberg spent promoting himself.

Her two campaign catch-phrases were: “I have a plan for that,” and “nevertheless she persisted.” They accurately captured both her policy-heavy credentials and her resilience.

But the fact she didn’t win the nomination - or even make it to the final two - is an insight into the misogyny that is American politics. And it explains why the very earliest we will see a female American President is in January 2025.

That will be 249 consecutive years of male leadership, and counting. Really, America, really?