In 1992, James Carville, a strategist in former US president Bill Clinton’s election team, coined the famous phrase “it’s the economy, stupid”. These words were allegedly posted around his campaign office, a reminder of the importance of economic wellbeing for American voters.
For President-elect Joe Biden, the phrase is as relevant as it was in 1992. But in 2020, one could say “representation” merits equal consideration.
President Donald Trump achieved much in office, but few disagree that his term left America divided.
Some women in America have felt alienated during this administration. Despite him choosing some women for senior roles, an estimated 4.6 million people across the US joined the Women’s March in January 2017. The protest was officially advocating social change. Mr Trump also failed to win a majority among female voters in both 2016 and 2020.
In contrast, Mr Biden has assembled the most diverse presidential team in history. And now he is expected to announce an all-female communications team. He will hope this brings a greater range of Americans back into the political fold.
Appointments include, among others and all pending Senate approval, Jen Psaki as White House Press Secretary. Psaki will be the face of the new administration, tasked with informing the American public, especially important during the Covid-19 crisis.
With significant media experience, she will also likely try to re-involve traditional outlets. News organisation will welcome this, after four year of President Trump branding them the “lamestream media”.
Yesterday, reports emerged that Mr Biden was also expected to announce women for senior economic posts.
These include Neera Tanden as head of the Office of Management and Budget, as well as Princeton economist Cecilia Rouse to Run the Council of Economic Advisers. Again, this will depend on whether the Senate will approve them, particularly in the case of Ms Tanden, disliked by both the Republicans and the left of the Democratic Party.
Regardless, Mr Biden’s focus on female appointments is a moral decision, as well as a strategic move to widen his support base.
A similar phenomenon is taking place in the UK. Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently appointed former newsreader Allegra Stratton to head the government’s Covid-19 briefings.
Ms Stratton is said to be part of a group within Downing Street, reportedly led by the Prime Minister’s partner Carrie Symonds, that is successfully pushing back against the previous, male-dominated communications team previously led by Dominic Cummings.
Greater representation now seems to be a possible factor in political success. But this only lasts if those appointed are the best people for the job. Some will criticise this as simply trying to win over feminist lobbies.
A look at the professional record of these women, however, proves this to be false. With this level of expertise, they are first and foremost experienced and capable professionals.