Had Bernie been Bernadette — The heartbreaking truth about American patriarchy
Lauren Besser
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Wonderfully written and incredibly thoughtful! Although, I do disagree with your point about Hilary being the chosen nominee if she were a man. She’d be just like John Kerry or Howard Dean… electable on paper, but really uninspiring and bland as far as progressivism is concerned. While gender is a factor to be considered, I posit that the issue progressives have with Hilary is less gender-specific, more platform specific.

You make an excellent point, though, that the rigged system and the patriarchy framed Hillary into the politician she is today. Then again though, one must wonder what would’ve happened had Bill not run for elected office. If Hillary had entered the political arena before Bill, I’d argue she’d become, more or less, the same candidate she is now. The 80s and 90s have pretty much framed the current crop of bland, aesthetically charismatic, and depressingly moderate candidates, on both sides of the aisle, with the only real difference being how far right one is willing to go. The politician Hillary has become is just as much a product of her generation, her upbringing, and her Ivy League education as she of the patriarchy. While she may be much more with-it regarding women’s rights and social progressivism than the average, grey-haired, old white man, at the end of the day, the bulk of her platform pushes for the same economic and foreign policies that have resulted in the domestic and global mess we’re facing.

But, speculation is only speculation. If, according to your piece (and correct me if I misinterpreted things here), she wound up more moderate because she had no choice in establishing herself as a female politician, then you must equally consider the fact that maybe, she actually is the person she’s running as on her own accord. Perhaps she would’ve wound up more progressive than she is now, or perhaps she would’ve turned out the same. There’s no definitive answer and framing an argument (and state of mind) around such an answer does do anything to help the situation.

But, you shouldn’t feel heartbroken. Hillary isn’t the candidate we deserve, we’ve never had a chance to make her so and there’s no sense in bemoaning that fact. What about Nancy Pelosi? Barbera Boxer? What about Eleanore Roosevelt? There have been countless of inspiring and exceptionally qualified women who’ve been failed by the patriarchy, the societal norms of this country, and a lack of support from women’s rights activist…What makes Hillary the “chosen” one apart from her proximity to the presidency? Hell, imagine if Sarah Palin had run? She almost became Vice President. She was pretty damn close, but, think about it, if she was a front runner in this election, would you have spent as much energy and thought finding a reason to vote for her as you’ve done with Hillary? Probably not. Hillary is a classic example of the “close but no cigar” candidate… one whom we want to vote for, but is missing a few qualities that would solidify that vote (for me, those missing qualities are empathy for the worker, autonomy from wall street, and an opposition of trans-national trade policies that have rendered the working class as expendable).

What angers me isn’t the lack of women running for president, but the barriers women face in entering the national political arena. Imagine the political upheaval that would take place if we had more women running for House and Senate seats… and imagine if the two parties we have (which are eating themselves alive) actively tried to recruit more women to run for office! There’s your revolution. Look at Iceland. The only way for the system to change is for us to change it by whatever means are necessary. We vote for Bernie to spark the revolution, than pack the House and Senate with a class of badass, progressive women with more than enough charisma and boldness in vision to have a lasting imprint on the national political sphere. That’s how you do it.

Lastly, I’ll say this: If Bernie were Bernadette, with the same resume, I’d argue that he’d be in the same place he is today, the figurehead of this much needed progressive, political upheaval. Look at where he came from… he was an independent mayor, a representative, and a senator from a tiny, progressive state. Now, he’s a presidential frontrunner. No single political party isn’t behind his rise in national politics (remember, he’s been an Independent for most of his entire career), rather, it’s those whom he’s represented and for whom he fights that have gotten him to where he is today.

That being said, if you do wind up reading this whole thing, I’d appreciate any thoughts or reactions you might have. Just like you, I desperately wanted to vote Hillary and while I’ll still vote for her IF she wins the nomination, Bernie is the right candidate for this moment and for this movement. Be thankful we have at least an actual progressive in this race.

P.S. Never fear Lauren, there’s still hope! #Warren2020