I'm a Woman and I Will Vote for the Best Feminist for President: Bernie Sanders
I won’t vote against Hillary Clinton because she’s female, but I don’t intend to vote for her because I am. We need more fundamental changes in this country
I am a feminist. And I would like to one day break the glass ceiling with a progressive woman who sees class and race as fundamental problems in American society.
But I don’t believe that the divide the Hillary Clinton campaign has created meets that standard – especially not after the destructive political dilemma that Clinton campaign surrogates Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinem attempted to create last weekend when they accused young women who support Bernie Sanders of being insufficiently feminist. (Steinem has since apologized and Clinton made excuses for Albright.)
As he has repeatedly said, Bernie Sanders is a feminist, too. And he’s the feminist who has my vote.
I am the executive director of the largest nurses union in the US: my members are overwhelmingly female and, not by accident, we were the first large organization to endorse Sanders. Nurses recognized Sanders as one of their own as soon as he got into the race, because they, like he, believe that all people should be treated equally – especially when it comes to healthcare – regardless of race, gender or ability to pay.
So let’s stop the divisive rhetoric: young women, older women (and younger and older men), all have lots of reasons to vote for Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination, and the Clinton camp doesn’t get to define for us the appropriate way to live up to our feminist ideals.
The Clinton campaign has tried to elevate the importance of gender above all other considerations – but if the goal is a woman qua woman, then we all should have been delighted with the fine work of former UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher, regardless the harm suffered by so many as a result of her policies.
We’re not. And we cannot let the wealthy impose a Thatcherite economy on America with the next election, with the 1% continuing to hold the vast majority of wealth in the US.
You cannot separate gender from race and class: racial and gender discrimination remain very real, incredibly widespread societal problems, impacting people’s daily lives in myriad ways, from law enforcement practices to hiring and promotion opportunities to pay inequities to a profit-focused healthcare system.
But the Sanders’ campaign’s fundamental pitch is for equality in all aspects in social, political, economic and personal life; the mass movement and “political revolution” that is so intrinsic to the Sanders campaign is the only way to successfully combat racial, gender, and class discrimination.
Sanders has made inequality the center of his campaign. Doing so has meant saying that a healthcare system that still leaves 29 million people uninsured and tens of millions with crippling medical debt is not good enough. It has meant not just saying that we cannot cut social security but that we must expand its benefits. It has meant recognizing that the climate crisis as the gravest threat to our collective future. It has meant advocating for the most comprehensive program to end inequities in the criminal justice system and mass incarceration. It has meant calling for a just, humane immigration program. And it has meant issuing policy programs that can end the gender bias endemic to our economic system.
Nurses are called upon to show care, compassion and community to their fellow humans. And, in the course of our work advocating for Sanders to win the nomination, we have found, time and again, that the people in Sanders’ movement stand together as a compassionate community.
So I don’t plan to vote against Clinton because she’s a woman, but I don’t intend to vote for her because I am. I have gotten involved in the Sanders campaign because he – and all of his compassionate, analytic and dedicated supporters that I have met – calls for genuine equality for all.
In my mind there has never been a better feminist than Bernie Sanders in a serious run for the White House, even if he’s not the female candidate. We need more than a symbol in the White House. We need someone who wants to accomplish big things for women – and will be a warrior for all humanity.