Push, pull between Sanders, Clinton with women


Ashley Green/Iowa State Daily

Senator Bernie Sanders with his family backing him speaking at his caucus watch party shortly before the results come in Feb. 1. For much of the night Sanders was 50/50 in the polls with democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

Shannon Mccarty

Everyone seemed to notice after the New Hampshire primary that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders had a larger number of young women supporters than former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but why?

“I identify as an activist, and I really like that while he’s a politician, he’s been predominantly an activist throughout all his life,” said Rosie Cook, freshman in pre-business.

Cook, along with Erin Bode, junior in philosophy, and Brianna Gray, junior in animal science, are just a few of millions of women who are supporting Sanders instead of Clinton.

“He wants to change how we do politics by not taking money from big corporations,” Gray said.

Sanders has had a large number of young supporters since he has gained traction in the presidential race back in late fall.

“I think it’s mainly an age-based appeal,” said Mack Shelley, university professor of political science. “Sanders personally, and his campaign in general, I think have been really good at articulating issues that appeal to younger, particularly college attending people.”

Shelley added there is a certain push and pull factor when looking at an issue like this.

“Since 1980, more women than men have voted for the Democratic nominee for president, and I expect that will be the case in 2016, whether the nominee is Clinton or Sanders,” said Dianne Bystrom, director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center.

The Pew Research Center has looked at data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which shows there is a higher rate of women enrolled in college than men.

Shelley said Sanders has done some research in the past that shows women do tend to be more concerned with the economy, which has been one of Sanders’ major issues.

“That’s a bit of a stereotype, but I think there is a lot to that,” Shelley said.

Cook, Bode and Gray all expressed concern about the current economic system as well as social justice, the environment and getting big money out of politics.

“I like that Bernie is one of the few candidates to acknowledge the Black Lives Matter movement,” Gray said.

They also added that Clinton’s sense of untrustworthiness has definitely pushed this group of young women away from her, as well as her change of heart on many issues.

Hillary has admitted to some mistakes, but has also lied about others, Bode said.

All three women consider themselves to be feminists, saying they see the movement as more than just men and women being equal.

“The way I look at it is more about transcending ideas and looking at dismantling a system that encourages dominance and oppression,” Cook said.

“[Hillary] has been the target of a lot of sexist remarks, which are not OK,” Gray said.

Clinton is playing a type of game that a lot of politicians play, but it is not the game Sanders supporters want to play, the three added.

To defend accusations of being untrustworthy or not liberal enough, Clinton has repeatedly said she is a progressive, but a progressive “who likes to get things done.”

“We want a woman president, [and] we want that representation in our government, but I don’t necessarily want somebody who has the same ideals [as Clinton],” Gray said.

Cook and Bode agreed with Gray that more representation is important, and they would all love to see a woman president but would prefer a progressive such as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

One theory as to why women are pulling for Sanders is that young women are facing a much different type of discrimination today than those of past generations.

“Because of the work of women now in their 50s, 60s and 70s during the women’s rights movement, younger women enjoy the benefits of such legislation as the Equal Pay Act, Equal Credit Opportunity Act, Pregnancy Discrimination Act and Family and Medical Leave Act,” Bystrom said.

Young women are still fighting for the movement of feminism, but in a much different way.

Bode said she recently was at a party, where she debated with a Trump supporter. Being a philosophy major, she had crafted an argument in her head against her opponent.

“I’m setting up this really structured argument and then he’s like, ‘No, no you’re a woman. Let me talk to someone who’s qualified in this,’” Bode said.

Bode said she felt she was being belittled based on her gender. When women grow older they tend to face a different battle.

“As young women spend more time in the workplace, their salaries begin to lag behind men in the same positions,” Bystrom said.

Bystrom’s observation supports why older women tend to lean toward Clinton. Researchers from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that college-educated women in their early to mid-20s see a much smaller pay gap of 97 cents of every dollar men make.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that women do not reach the pay plateau until they are between 35 and 44 years old.

“Women’s career paths are often derailed when they have work and family obligations,” Bystrom said.

One of the big trailblazers of the feminist movement has been Gloria Steinem, who has been touting for Clinton in the press. But her recent appearance on “Real Time with Bill Maher” made a lot of women unhappy.

When the panel was discussing the issue of more young women being for Sanders, Steinem said women were there for the young men.

“When you’re young, you’re thinking, ‘Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie,’” Steinem said.

“Steinem’s comments were rather demeaning in my personal opinion,” Cook said. “It really is outright sexist.”

Cook added she perceived the comment as saying women aren’t able to make their own decisions and we should not vote for someone based on their gender.

Steinem isn’t the only one in hot water. When the first female Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other,” not everyone was cheering.

Shelley said that type of message can come off as them saying, “Hey, we fought and broke the glass ceiling. You are being ungrateful, and you’re taking it all for granted.

“I don’t think that’s exactly what [Albright & Steinem] mean to convey, but it does sound that way,” Shelley said. “It’s kind of a push element. I think they’re a little tone deaf.”

There is one question that all Sanders supporters have to ask themselves. What if Hillary wins the Democratic candidacy?

“I would vote for Hillary if Bernie didn’t get the nomination,” Bode said.

Bode expressed the importance of the next president most likely selecting new Supreme Court justices, and not wanting that to be left to a Republican president.

Cook isn’t sure what she would do. She said she worries if Hillary is elected president that she would be primarily concerned with getting elected in the next four years.

The one Republican they could see themselves voting for is Ohio Gov. John Kasich, they said. One thing all three of these young students are sure about is come November 2016, they will all be voting.