Intersectionality in Elections the 2016 Illinois Senate Race

In 2016, then US Representative from Illinois, Tammy Duckworth (Democrat), ran for the Senate seat that was held by Senator Mark Kirk (Republican). During the Democratic primary, she faced criticism for taking maternity leave while in the House of Representatives, from a fellow Democrat, Andrea Zopp. She criticized Duckworth for missing important roll-call votes after giving birth earlier than expected, claiming that she was not working hard enough for the citizens of Illinois that she represented. However, after winning the Democratic primary, she was attacked by her opponent, Kirk, during a debate, after she talked about her family's history of being in the military. However, this attack was more than just a simple barb, it was an attack on her due in part to her ethnicity. Even in ads during the campaign, her opponent's backers would use female narrators to attack her.

The criticism here is that 1) she is a veteran from the Iraq War, who lost both her legs in a helicopter crash in the war, and 2) due to her losing both her legs, for years she was confined to a wheel chair as she got used to her prosthetic legs, and has to use crutches for the most part, in order to get around.

Even though Tammy Duckworth voted yes to the Iran deal, these "Secret Documents" were really a single confidential add on to the Iran Deal that was leaked had nothing to do with allowing Iran the ability to gain nuclear weapons quicker. The non-stop berating of Tammy Duckworth in the ad by another woman is a way to try to discredit her by using someone who is similar and that would in most cases vote for a candidate like Duckworth.

While many people focused on the blatant sexism and racism present during various stages in the Presidential election, its important to look at the smaller races to see that it was an issue all the way down the line. Not only was Duckworth criticized by members of her own party for missing time due to the earlier than expected birth of her baby. This is something that a male does not have to deal with during elections. Also, when the Republicans sent out a poorly worded tweet criticizing Duckworth for her "not standing" for veteran's best interests, it came off as insensitive wording due to the fact that she has difficulty standing on her prosthetic legs since her injuries suffered in the war. This was one of the first elections that war service was a target for opponents, opened up by Trump's attack on John McCain for being considered a war hero even though he was a prisoner of war. When wording something so carelessly and criticizing a veteran for their work and ability for supporting Veteran Affairs, its a direct attack on who one is as a person. This again, is not something that most males would have to deal with. McCain was not criticized for how he supported veterans due to his injuries that he suffered. People did not word things so carelessly about him either due to his injuries. Finally, the blatant racism in Mark Kirk's statement about her heritage and claims that her family has been fighting in wars for America since the Revolutionary War. Again, if this was the other way around, the backlash would have been swift and severe. Kirk didn't apologize for the statement until over a week later once his contributions and endorsements were going away and criticizing his statement. Gender I don't believe helped Duckworth get elected, compared to the eventual backlash against statements attacking her that were sexist, racist, and poorly worded. Also, she was well liked by her constituents while she was a Congresswoman which helped her out. Due to the statements in this race, I would say that it showcased that gendered politics have a ways to go before they become equal and non-sexist. This race also showed that race relations have a ways to go as well. Finally, relations with Veterans needs improvement as well. Ever since the Vietnam war, it has seemed as if civilians have had difficulty with how to accept and treat veterans when they return from a war that the people of the state do not totally agree with. However, even through these issues, Tammy Duckworth persevered and succeeded in winning her election against Mark Kirk.

Created By
Ryan Coyle-Simmons
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