I’m a feminist for Bernie Sanders.
No, Ms. Steinem, not because that’s where the boys are – I’m married and pregnant (in other words, entirely unavailable) – but because my informed political opinion is that Bernie Sanders is the superior candidate for president. I am humbled by and grateful to our feminist foremothers but will not be voting for Hillary this primary no matter how nicely (or not) you implore.
And let’s be clear, Bernie Sanders is no enemy to women. This primary race is not a choice between a feminist and a bigot, but between two feminists, albeit with different anatomy. Mr. Sanders earned a 100% rating on the Planned Parenthood 2016 Congressional Scorecard and earned 100 out of 100 on the NARAL Pro-Choice America’s 2015 Congressional Record scorecard. By contrast, the other two sitting Senators running for president, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, earned ratings of 0% and 8% respectively from Planned Parenthood and a big fat goose-egg from the NARAL. Thus, I rest comfortably that my support for Hillary is not a betrayal to the sisterhood.
Despite my strong support for Bernie, however, I am also sensitive to the ways in which Hillary Clinton’s gender affects how she is seen by voters. In a recent article by the Washington Post, Catherine Rampell diagnoses Hillary as having an authenticity problem. Similarly, in the New Hampshire primaries, voters who said honesty was most important trait in a candidate voted for Bernie in a landslide. This echoes many other conversations I’ve heard among my peers and in the media that seem to focus on how Hillary speaks, rather than what she says. Yet these criticisms that Hillary appears guarded, calculating, or inauthentic seem tone-deaf to the reality of Ms. Clinton’s political career. As a female politician, she has been called nagging and a bitch, among other names. She has had her words, outfits, and family life picked apart in a way that no one can really argue parallels the treatment of her male contemporaries. It is hardly a surprise, then, when Hillary Clinton does not have the same ease or candor as a man; as one of the most prominent women in a largely male world of politics, she simply does not have that luxury.
The reasons to be skeptical of Hillary are plentiful, among them her evolving views on gay marriage; her shameful history of support for tough on crime politics; her continued opposition to reinstating Glass-Steagall (the depression-era law to break up banks signed by FDR and repealed by her husband); her inconsistent positions on trade; her vote in favor of Iraq war (which she didn’t regret in 2004 but regrets now that it is deeply unpopular); her admiration for Henry Kissinger (who many consider a war criminal) and; her flip-flopping on the issue of labor unions are on that list. Her tone and mannerisms, at least for me, are not.
NARAL Pro-Choice recently put out a press release in response to a comment made by Bernie in Iowa, stating “Senator Sanders once again highlighted the difference between an ally and a champion… His voting record is sufficient, but it doesn’t make him a champion for women. That champion is Hillary.”
Faced with the choice of a champion for women with Ms. Clinton’s record, I prefer an ally to women who is a champion for all people.