On Jan. 14, about 75 night-owl Democrats gathered around 9 p.m. in the second-floor pub of the Woman’s National Democratic Club to watch the first primary debate of 2020. Six presidential candidates took part in the CNN-sponsored forum, just three weeks before the first votes will be cast in the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses.
All ages were represented in the crowd at the club, now in its 98th year. Over one third were men. Everyone sat around large round tables watching a new flat-screen TV that almost covered the entire back wall of the room. The audience munched popcorn and cookies and sipped beer, wine and soft drinks. During the two-hour debate, they applauded, laughed and sometimes groaned. Many drew and colored-in large posters that they planned to take to the third annual Women’s March, taking place on Saturday, Jan. 19, at Freedom Plaza, after a pre-march breakfast at the club.
The mood was very determined, in sharp contrast to the highly exuberant mood of the viewers during the first five or so debates at the club, which this reporter attended. At those gatherings, close to 200 cheering supporters urged on their favorite candidates, including tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang, California Sen. Kamala Harris, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Texans Beto O’Rourke and Julian Castro, Housing and Urban Development secretary under President Barack Obama. Those faves are mostly gone now.
Back then, there was more snickering when Biden made an inevitable mixed-up statement. This time, when he did it, several of the members whispered things like: “He gets mixed up because he still struggles with stuttering.”
Then there was a lot of fist pumping and good-natured bantering between advocates. Now it was quieter and less contentious. Supporters seemed less sure of exactly whom they would vote for.
Then there were pink hats on many heads. Now, none. But the spirit of resistance was still there — resistance to President Donald Trump.
“RESISTERS” read one of the posters both women and men were painting for the Women’s March, which is now pretty much described as a “progressive” group event. Others of the colorful signs read: “Smash Trumpiarchy,” “I’ve Seen Better Cabinets At IKEA” and the inevitable “Dump Trump.”
Many of the Democrats nodded vigorously as billionaire businessman Tom Steyer focused on climate change. And many winced at the expected question from TV anchors, “Can a woman win the 2020 presidential election?” A burst of “you saids,” “he saids” and “she saids” reflected an argument between Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders that later played out unexpectedly on a live mic.
They cheered when Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobucher pointed out that the women (two) on the stage had won more races than the men on the stage combined. Many told this reporter that a woman’s time had come. None doubted that a woman could be nominated.
Two millennials who solidly support Sanders said they would vote for whoever won the nomination, but were hoping it will be him.
The club has just published a fact-filled Women and the Vote Centennial Calendar. For sale at the mansion the club has called home for 96 years, located at 1526 New Hampshire Ave. NW, the calendar celebrates the 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote when the 18th Amendment was adopted on Aug. 26, 1920.