Why we don’t like Hillary
April 2015. What a time to be alive. Finally, a capable, Democratic, FEMALE candidate is running for president. Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy, and with that, a symbolic, feminist moment for the books. However, with the recent scandal over the use of her private email account and the political baggage of the Clinton brand, my support for the former secretary of state has waned.
It seems that Clinton represents a more trivial “girl power” approach to winning over her peers. Instead of promising to enact real systematic change that women are eager to see, she is merely a symbolic candidate for feminism. Women don’t just need sheer exposure, we need someone to make the future better. We don’t need a spokesperson for women simply because that individual happens to be one, but rather a candidate that will voice the real concerns and injustices women and girls face in the United States.
Then who? Who is the ideal candidate for a liberal, female millennial? This is where fellow Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders comes in, and has a clear edge over his competition. Sanders may not have the chromosomes to win over the majority of the feminist population, but he is clearly in favor of women’s rights, advocates for economic reform, has clear stances and is not bogged down by corporate support.
While both Sanders and Clinton support reproductive rights and closing a wage gap, Sanders has made clear progress in advancing all women, whereas Clinton has failed to advance LGBT women and women of color.
Sanders condemned the action of many Republicans in Congress attempting to defund Planned Parenthood as an “attack on women’s health.” In 2000, Sanders voted against a ban on partial-birth abortions, and in 2006 he co-sponsored a bill making emergency contraception universally available in hospitals for victims of rape.
He voted yes on an act that would make it illegal for pharmacies to deny birth control to patients, and in 2011, Sanders co-sponsored a measure with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, to address the country’s rape-kit backlog. Sanders also voted for the Paycheck Fairness Act, a piece of legislation attempting to combat factors leading to women making 78 cents on the dollar.
In contrast, voters are left wondering what concrete efforts Clinton has made to advance women and break the glass ceiling she loves to refer to.
While it is clear Clinton wants to promote gender equality, as she has made that a central tenet of her presidential campaign, she does not promote equality for all women. Instead, Clinton promotes a heteronormative, white feminist approach. According to an article in Racism Review, during her time as First Lady, Clinton and her husband — then President Bill Clinton — reduced federal assistance to women and children living in poverty.
Michelle Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow, notes it was Clinton who advocated for Congress to expand the drug war and mass incarceration, which Alexander wrote impacts people of color significantly more than those who are white. While promoting the advancement of one systematically disadvantaged group –– women –– Clinton has actively forced another further down. It is a clear moral hypocrisy to be a feminist, but only for white women. Clinton has since called for an end to the era of mass incarceration, but she cannot erase the impact of her actions on this issue when she was First Lady.
Sanders has also spoken about race and its connection to the excessive number of people in prison in the U.S.
“From Ferguson to Baltimore and across this nation, too many African Americans and other minorities find themselves subjected to a system that treats citizens who have not committed crimes as if they were criminals, and that is unacceptable,” he said.
As for LGBT women, as well as those who identify as LGBT in general, Sanders voted against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, which was a federal law banning gay marriage, and has repeatedly stood up for same-sex marriage even when it has been viewed unfavorably.
Sanders also supported the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which prevented employers from discriminating based on gender identity and sexual orientation, when it was passed by the Senate in 2013, and even called on President Barack Obama to support marriage equality in 2011. Additionally, he co-sponsored the federal LGBT-inclusive Student Non-Discrimination Act. In contrast, Hillary Clinton opposed gay marriage until 2013.
Feminism is about equal rights and fair treatment of all. War and military hostility are about the advancement of one side’s agenda. In a world where most feminists are young millennial women, a big defense budget and aggressive military practices are not going to fly.
Those who are skeptical about war, who tend to be millennials who have seen the U.S. at war most of their lives, see Sanders as more of a dove when it comes to conflict, whereas Clinton tends to be more of a hawk. Sanders voted against the Iraq War in 2002, while Clinton voted in favor of it. Clinton is also gung-ho about the U.S. being the leading force in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, while Sanders finds this concept utterly ridiculous.
As for the recent Iranian nuclear deal, both politicians backed it. However, while Sanders is hopeful that it will lead to future advances in diplomacy, Clinton sees the deal somewhat differently.
“This isn’t the start of some larger diplomatic opening,” Clinton said. “And we shouldn’t expect that this deal will lead to a broader change in their [Iran’s] behavior.”
Ladies: putting a man in the White House is not a betrayal to the feminist cause. Don’t let the Super PACs fool you. Hillary is not all she’s cracked up to be and we can wait for the right woman to come along. It’s time to feel the Bern.
Anna Lamb is a freshman journalism major who believes feminism defies the gender barrier. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.