Bernie Sanders Discussing A Female President Hit The Nail On The Head (And Made Clear He, Too, Is A Feminist)
Hillary Clinton isn't the only presidential candidate to proudly identify as a feminist. In an interview with a Washington Post reporter published on Thursday, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders discussed feminism and simply and straightforwardly identified as one. To Sanders, feminism means "a commitment to fighting for women’s rights," which he claims he's maintained throughout his political career. Like Clinton, who simply defined a feminist as "someone who believes in equal rights," Sanders proved he's able to look beyond the loaded, misleading controversy that the term has always been shrouded in and understand the movement as inherently simple and just.
But discussing feminism as the leading challenger against a female candidate for the presidency begs the natural question of Sanders' thoughts on the need for a female POTUS. It's certainly a question that the predominantly male GOP field hasn't addressed when discussing either Clinton or Carly Fiorina, the GOP's only female candidate. And while it's important that gender not sway how contenders for the presidency treat each other, or how voters make their choices, it's an important concept to discuss.
Our nation has never been governed by a female president, thanks to both historical and modern misogyny. It's a concept that isn't easy for male presidential candidates to talk about without unwittingly advancing their female rivals, and yet Sanders managed to offer a strong response that was both political and compassionate.
"I do understand there is a desire on the part of many women, perfectly understandable, to see a woman being elected president. And we all want to see that," Sanders stated, to The Washington Post, when asked if he believed women understood his stance on women's rights. "We want to see women hold more political offices. But I also would hope that, in these enormously difficult times, where it is absolutely imperative that we stand up to the billionaire class, bring our people together, to fight for a progressive agenda, that all people — women — look at that candidate who has the record to do that."
Sanders proceeded to discuss both women's rights and economic equity, as well as the strong intersection of the two issues and how his platform advances both, telling the Post:
[Y]ou're looking at somebody who ... has a 100 percent pro-choice voting record. ... Somebody who’s made a cornerstone, a key part of my campaign, the need for at least three months of family and medical leave; somebody who is fighting to raise the minimum wage over a two year period to $15 an hour, which will benefit ... women actually more than men; somebody who regards it as enormously important that we fight for pay equity for women; somebody who believes that our child care system is a disaster today and that we need to have the best childcare/pre-K system in the world, making it universal and affordable.
Essentially, Sanders' take on feminism and the 2016 election is that we should support a presidential candidate based on their track record and platform first and foremost. And he has a point — gender equality is achieved through not allowing an individual's gender to affect how we treat them. There's plenty to appreciate about Sanders' words on feminism and the appeal of a female POTUS, although both he and Clinton identifying as feminists certainly doesn't make it easier to choose between the two.
However, arguably the best part of his brief interview with The Washington Post was the simplicity and ease of his response. Sanders' stances on women's rights, LGBT rights, and racial equality have obviously aligned with the feminist movement from the start, but one's ability to proudly identify as a feminist will always be the icing on the cake of equality.