Kaylee Sheppard

In the last couple weeks, things have begun to heat up in the Democratic nominee race. One of the biggest contentions between candidates is a claim by the Warren campaign that Bernie Sanders told Elizabeth Warren he did not believe a woman could win the presidency in a meeting in December 2018. Sanders has continued to deny the claims.

The controversy also illustrated the skepticism among American voters and senior Democratic officials that the country is ready to elect a woman as president. Many members of the Democratic party still believe sexism played a role in the defeat of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 general election. Some voters say they are torn about whether or not to try to put a woman in the White House in 2020.

Regardless of the truth of what Sanders said or didn’t say, this is an important conversation to have regarding the electability of women.

That has been the biggest concern I have heard from friends for the 2020 election. Honestly, I have had similar feelings as I have begun to narrow down my favorites in the Democratic primary.

I think people often forget a woman has actually won the presidency.

Hillary Clinton technically won the presidency by about three million votes in 2016. She only came short of, collectively, about 100,000 votes across three states to win the presidency with the electoral college.

I think a key factor in Americans starting to believe that a woman can be president is the increase in women at all levels of government. We are still only seeing between 20-25% of elected positions being held by women across the country, yet more women than men in the last election cycles actually participated in voting.

We need to see more woman as mayors and city council officials. We need more women in local offices all the way up to Washington DC.

It is also important not only to support women in your community, but to support organizations like She Should Run, Emily’s List and many more that work every day to seek out and train future female leaders all over the United States.

We are so lucky that Knoxville has a woman as mayor and a majority female city council to be role models for future women leaders. Other areas and towns in the country are not as likely to have such a diverse leadership.

A woman can win — some argue a woman has. But the more we uplift women to run and win in our communities, the sooner we will see a woman in the White House.

Kaylee Sheppard is a senior majoring in American Studies and Political Science. She can be reached at ksheppa7@vols.utk.edu.

Columns and letters of The Daily Beacon are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beacon or the Beacon's editorial staff.

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