Donald Trump is attempting his best in the final months before the election to present himself as a leader who cares about women. But all he’s really succeeding at is being a walking contradiction.
In the same week that the President tore down America’s most esteemed female leader, Michelle Obama for daring to suggest America needed a new, empathetic president, he also made the decision to issue a full pardon to Susan B. Anthony– a pioneer of the Women’s Suffrage Movement who was arrested for voting in 1872.
Trump announced he would be signing “a full and complete pardon” on Tuesday — falling on the 100-year anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment– also known as the Susan B Anthony Amendment– which ensured women the right to vote.
“As we fight to deliver a better future for all women and for all Americans, we remember the wonderful victory one century ago,” he said. He also cited the achievements of suffragette Elizabeth Cady Stanton and labelled the ratification of the 19th Amendment a “monumental victory for equality and justice.”
But it appears that women of America are sharpening up to what a “better future” for them constitutes in the eyes of their President. His support has been eroding at a rapid rate with female voters and most crucially with the very cohort of white women in battleground states who backed him four years ago.
Trump frequently employs the term “suburban housewife” in his efforts to appeal to this key voting block, despite the fact that most women in these states are working full or part-time while juggling a range of other competing priorities. His choice of words conveys just how out of touch 74-year old Trump really is.
Asked to clarify his conception of the suburban, female voter this week, Trump said: “I view it very strongly that the suburban voter, the suburban housewife, women — and men — living in the suburbs, they want security and they want safety,” he said.
And, despite the President’s feeble attempts to win back his female voters with gimmicks like a “women for Trump” bus tour, his absolute unwillingness and incapacity to shift his archaic ideals will be his undoing.
There’s another crucial element that seems to fly right over the top of the president’s head, and that is this: women the world over, and of varying political and ideological persuasions, are having a moment of solidarity as they fight for equality. Therefore sexist tropes regularly employed by the President such as those he’s used against presumptive Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris fail to have the desired cut-through. In fact, they’re having the opposite effect and rupturing any positive sentiment once held for him by female voters.
The same goes for Trump’s dismissal of the widely admired Michelle Obama, whom he described as “in over her head”, and “extremely divisive” yesterday. Or his categorisation of NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s handling of the Coronavirus pandemic, where, in attempt to deflect from his own abysmal leadership during this time, falsely claimed that New Zealand was experiencing a “big surge” in COVID-19 cases. A blunt Ardern labelled the account “patently wrong”.
“I think anyone who’s following COVID and its transmission globally will quite easily see that New Zealand’s nine cases in a day does not compare to the United States’ tens of thousands, and in fact does not compare to most countries in the world,” she told reporters.
It’s hard to fathom how Trump thinks he could possibly win back enough female voters to save his neck at the next election. Particularly when he’s not even attempting to change his strategy. His tired tactics of misogyny are still on full display.