OPINION: Number of women candidates on the rise in wake of Trump’s election

President Donald Trump was correct about one thing during the State of the Union address to Congress in early February: He is largely responsible for the record 110 women elected to Congress, most of whom sat in front of him dressed in white.

Trump taking credit for women in Congress is like Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam taking credit for starting a discussion about the history of blackface, but it appears he will also be partially responsible for the election of the first woman president of the U.S., 101 years after Woodrow Wilson signed the 19th Amendment and finally enfranchised women.

As Ta-Nehisi Coates argued in The Atlantic magazine, Trump’s election was a direct backlash of the Barack Obama presidency by a group of white Americans, many men of lower income, who perceived they were disenfranchised by eight years of an African-American president. In turn, a backlash that roots back to the founding of the U.S. will characterize the 2020 election. In 1776, Abigail Adams implored her husband John Adams to “remember the ladies” as he drafted the Declaration of Independence.

“If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion and will not hold ourselves bound to any laws in which we have no voice or representation,” Adams said.

Adams’ plea did not work; the inalienable rights of the Declaration, and subsequent Constitution, were only applied to white men with land. American women spent the first 150 years of the newly formed country without the vote and the next 101 with extremely unequal opportunities, discrimination and prejudice in the workplace and in politics continuing to the present day.

Now, Senators Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren, three exceptionally qualified candidates, are poised to break the ultimate glass ceiling of U.S. politics.

The Democrats risk missing a significant moment in U.S. history if they do not nominate another woman for president, a woman without the multitude of issues that plagued Hillary Clinton.

To be clear, none of these candidates are perfect, but no candidate is. However, each woman running, including others not mentioned previously, represent another milestone in the path toward the American ideal that every man and woman is created equal and toward descriptive representation, where the government looks like the citizens.

As always, women face an uphill battle. Democratic women have a more difficult time fundraising than Democratic men. The media will undoubtedly portray trivial details as serious character flaws and will brand women candidates as “bossy” or “unlikable.” The news will run exposes on past relationships as if they give some insight into a candidate’s personality or how they became successful. Pragmatists will argue that a woman is not electable and Democrats should nominate a safe candidate like Joe Biden, but 2020 is a unique election.

The sitting president is one of the most unpopular in recent history. He is a misogynist and is struggling to come to terms with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a woman with almost equal power to him. The country is coming off a historic election where women almost single-handedly delivered Democrats a majority in the House of Representatives.

Just as African-American people voted in record numbers to help elect Obama and working-class white people voted in record numbers to help elect Trump, women will elect the best candidate. Men have to not only come to terms with inevitable woman presidents, but also actively fight for it.

Descriptive representation is closer than it appears. Forty-five consecutive woman presidents will not happen. An all-woman Supreme Court, while more plausible, is also very unlikely. But, Congress may see 51 percent of woman representatives in our lifetime if the trends of 2018 continue.

The inevitable cries that people cannot elect someone purely based on their gender will come loud and clear. Luckily for us, each is a better candidate than the sitting president.

They are also women, representing 51 percent of our population who have spent the entirety of U.S. history facing some form of oppression, to whom the presidency is owed. This is not to say, however, that this is the nation’s one chance to elect a woman as president. Regardless of the outcome in 2020, multiple strong woman candidates running for office at every level of government will become the new normal.

What Abigail Adams started does not end with a single woman president. Until the possibility of a woman winning at every election is completely normal, if not expected, as a country we are not living up to our founding ideals.