A big part of me thinks that women mourning Elizabeth Warren’s exit from the presidential race are a bunch of chumps.
Why? Because they fell for it.
She’s so smart.
She’s so well-prepared.
She has as plan for everything.
It’s what we’ve always wanted to believe. If we get more degrees, volunteer for more committees, take on extra projects, work nights and weekends, wake up at 4 and go to bed at midnight, we’ll get ahead. We’ll get respect.
The myth of the meritocracy or perhaps I should say, the trap of the meritocracy has been the opiate of the people, well, half the people. If I get this next degree, if I finish this training program, if I serve on this board, then I’ll get a shot. And so Elizabeth Warren did all that. She put all the time in, prepared herself up to her ears. No one was as ready as she was to be president.
But I knew she wouldn’t win. Why?
She believed too hard in having earned it, in having put the work in to be prepared. And she tricked herself into thinking that was going to be a winning thing.
But to win, you have to be more than professionally prepared. You have to be ruthless. You have to be conniving. You have to spend years building one on one relationships with powerful people. You have to invest your time in the ultimate smarminess that is American politics. And what’s more, you have to enjoy doing those things.
You also have to have a shiv in your shoe.
Elizabeth Warren was too pure to have a shiv in her shoe, or to know what a shiv is, literally or otherwise. She wanted just to win the debate and get what she deserved. But it doesn’t work that way, in politics or real life. Preparation, extra work, and all that is just the meritocracy myth played out – while we’re all getting ourselves ready, having our plans and whatnot, the guys with the shivs are cutting up the pie.
Oh, yes, there will be the soft-hearted feminists that tell me that we need to change the paradigm. I’ve heard that, let’s see, for forty years? The political paradigm isn’t going to change – politics is a Darwinian universe where the earnest and over-prepared are eaten like taco chips in a slow restaurant. They serve a function but they aren’t the main course. It’s awful but it’s true.
Still, I was sad to see Elizabeth Warren quit. She was genuine and unpretentious. And joyful in her campaigning. Her love for people seemed boundless and unrehearsed. She would have been a great president, I believe, but she couldn’t get to the White House unarmed. She needed that shiv in her shoe.