Bern On vs. Bern Out
Katha Pollitt’s assertion that “feminism is a distraction” to Senator Sanders is probably truer than Bernie would like to admit [“Why Didn’t Bernie Get Me?,” May 23/30]. But Pollitt’s critique of the Sweet Bern was focused only on domestic issues. While each of these is important, they are also inseparable from the broader—and often unexamined—gender-justice issues.
It would be very valuable to have a national candidate who put gender-justice issues at the forefront of foreign as well as domestic policy. Those countries where women have quality access to educational, political, and economic power tend to be, simply, better places to live. Sustainable birth rates, stronger economies, muted militarism, and well-educated children tend to develop within societies to the degree that they approach gender justice. May the day come soon when oil takes a backseat to justice in our foreign-policy considerations.
Bernie could have outflanked Hillary on gender-justice issues but didn’t. Although it would have been heartening to have had Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Amy Klobuchar, or historian Doris Kearns Goodwin in the race, all things considered, Clinton is steps ahead of Sanders in several areas—and, of course, worlds more worthy and presidential than that bombastic, too-well-heeled, chicken-hawk, lyin’ landlord.
The first reason that Katha Pollitt cites for supporting Hillary is electability. This is odd, since polls repeatedly show Bernie doing better against Trump than she does. While it’s true that Bernie hasn’t faced the withering fire of the Republican attack machine, Hillary has done so for years, and it has resulted in very high unfavorable ratings among Democrats and Republicans alike.
The second reason Pollitt cites is that Bernie’s “entitlement is so vast, so deep, so historically embedded” that he really doesn’t viscerally understand the obstacles faced by women. Apparently, being in favor of equal pay, reproductive rights, the ERA, the Violence Against Woman Act, and childcare for all—and voting for all these things—is not sufficient to establish his bona fides on women’s issues.
As a 69-year-old progressive white male, I recognize my gender and skin privilege. While I can intellectually understand the obstacles faced by women and black people, it’s hard for me to have the visceral response that Pollitt does to women’s issues. However, it’s equally clear to me that someone like Hillary—who has made hundreds of thousands of dollars multiple times for a single one-hour speech (not for her campaign, but for herself personally), whose daughter married a hedge-fund manager and had a $5 million wedding, who lives in a giant house and has had around-the-clock personal security for years at taxpayer expense—cannot viscerally understand the issues facing someone of a decidedly working-class background like me.