The Single Thing The Democratic Debate Candidates Could Have Easily Addressed, But Sadly Never Did

Foreign policy was obviously a hot topic at Saturday night's CBS-hosted DNC debate, but within the wide range of topics covered — from ISIS to Wall Street — the candidates really should have found time to talk about women's rights at the Democratic debate. The topic has been largely ignored in the two debates so far, falling to more intense issues like immigration and counter-terrorism — even when the Defund Planned Parenthood movement was in full swing on social media, it got no mention in the first debate. It's time for Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley, and Hillary Clinton to take off the kid gloves and get into a real discussion about women's rights.

There was significant talk about financial inequality throughout the debate, yet women's issues were never brought up. Women make pennies on the dollar doing the same work as a man, and the intersectionality of race and gender means Latinas and black women make considerably less than white women do. The Democratic candidates had strong openings in the debate to address these issues and talk about specific policy changes to alleviate this gender and race discrimination, particularly when asked about the squeeze on the middle class, but failed to address the economic and social benefits that equal pay would entail.

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Sanders' website features a detailed 10-point plan to support women, O'Malley has a 100 percent rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America, and Clinton's campaign produced a great promotional video to stand with Planned Parenthood and another video all about women for Hillary — clearly the candidates believe women's issues deserve consideration and political change. Now, they need to make that explicitly known to the public through the debate format.

The exclusion of women's rights from the debates is indicative of the way women's issues have always been treated in American politics. Women's rights are more than just talking points to persuade voters, it's an area of inequality that desperately needs addressing. The Democrats need to stand in clear, strong support on policy changes to help and support American women.