I Want A Woman President, But Not Hillary.
Saturday evening, the weekend before Christmas, I scanned my Twitter feed-full of debate recaps (I didn’t watch live, I don’t watch TV, truly of my generation). Oh. Hillary Clinton signed off, “Thank you, good night and may the force be with you.”
Tonight, another debate. Soon, the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries. Sanders is considered the focus throughout. He’s gained on Clinton in the polls. Otherwise, not much has changed, but for more feisty swipes at Clinton’s big $$$ influence.
I live in Highland Park, Los Angeles. The café I frequent has a handmade “Bernie Sanders 4 President” sign on its pastry counter. The tone in my part of town (think Highland Park, Echo Park, Silver Lake, Los Feliz) has a steep Sanders slant. Drive through Downtown and you’ll see murals of the old man in profile, saying FEEL THE BERN, tags what look to have been scrawled hastily, as opposed to the commonplace stenciled or wheatpaste jobs, as if out of desperate need. The grassrootsiness of it all recalls President Obama’s (eventually embarrassing) hiring of popular street artist Shepard Fairey to design his iconic “HOPE” poster.
Young Americans want to feel the Bern. Bernie is favored 2-to-1 over Hillary among millennials who vote Democrat, in fact.
Hollywood, however, is a different story. But I don’t mean the constituency. Hollywood — the industry — is Team Clinton. 90% of Hollywood’s political donations are going to Clinton.
When Clinton concluded her closing statement of the last Democratic debate with the hit phrase from a movie blockbuster that just came out the day before, she meant to be endearing, perhaps especially to the younger generation for whom a new Star Wars movie is a big deal. Instant meme material. I can just imagine her campaign people prophesying how the clip will go viral, a buzzword that has started to sound as square as an @yahoo.com email address. But Clinton’s Star Wars reference in what is a serious event to help decide the direction of our country’s immediate future felt forced. Like she was pandering to younger voters.
Hillary’s Star Wars reference left some more uneasy than amused, especially after the previous day’s scuffle over the DNC allegedly rigging the primary race in Clinton’s favor, as Sanders and his campaign claimed.
Question: where does Hillary Clinton’s gender factor into these numbers?
That gender is the “tipping point” for some voters deciding between Clinton and Sanders as the Democratic candidate for president is a big problem. Just because she is a woman does not mean a Clinton presidency would be in women’s best interest, especially not if we’re talking young women. Hillary Clinton’s policies and priorities skew more conservative than Bernie Sanders on several issues that are important to millennials.
A Gallup poll found that millennials’ liberal slant has increased dramatically since Obama took office: “Since 2006, the average gap in favor of the Democratic Party among young adults has been 18 percentage points, 54% to 36%.” Another 2014 study by the Pew Research Center outlined “The GOP’s Millennial problem.” Where the Republican party seems only increasingly hostile to the interests of younger voters, who are the largest, most diverse demographic in the United States, according to a White House report on millennials, the Democratic party has been understandably opportunist in courting the youth vote from every angle. That’s a good thing, depending who you ask — and depending which candidate the DNC is backing.
Bernie Sanders recently became the first presidential candidate to receive 2 million campaign donations. His campaign has been funded mostly by small donations averaging $30 each (read all about it over at VICE). This feat achieved with a comparatively humble, grassroots campaign without Clinton’s $$$glamour$$$ factor. The maximum amount allowed per individual donation is $5,400 for primary and general elections. Meanwhile, Star Wars: The Force Awakens director JJ Abrams and his wife donated $1 million to a Clinton super PAC over the summer, according to Rolling Stone.
Hillary’s intrusion of an advertisement into a political debate made it very clear where her priorities lie. The wealthy favor Clinton, and Clinton is in service to the wealthy. After all that talk about what she could or would do for Americans and global citizens alike whose lives are at risk for any number of reasons, the nod to an extremely wealthy donor was cheap.
As a feminist, to favor an older white man for president when there’s a viable woman candidate is no minor feat in reconciling cognitive dissonance. That famous and feminist-identifying millennials have jumped on Hillary’s bandwagon, like Lena Dunham, “a voice of a generation” and a pandering T. Swift #Squad member, illuminates the major differences between the Hollywood liberal and the average young woman liberal.
Isn’t the real battle at hand bigger than which gender our next president is? When it comes down to the issues and the direction our future will take, Sanders is more in line with what millennials want than Clinton is. “Already, in polls in key nominating states, Sanders is outperforming Hillary Rodham Clinton, in some cases by lopsided margins, among young voters,” according to the Washington Post.
Women have been outspoken, albeit not echoed in major news media, about the strange stance of being a feminist and not a Clinton supporter. A recent story in the New York Times, “Moms and Daughters Debate Gender Factor in Hillary Clinton’s Bid,” examines a generational divide among women voters weighing the two candidates; older women are more inclined to vote Hillary, and “The generational divide … has added urgency to Mrs. Clinton’s efforts to focus on how she appeals to younger women, who overwhelmingly vote Democratic but who might sit out an election if they are not excited by a candidate,” the Times reports. One noteworthy response, published on Feministing, points out that young women “have drawn upon their feminist commitments, alongside their lived experience, to evaluate and reject Clinton’s hawkish foreign policy, her expansion of drone warfare, gutting of welfare, (continuing) defense of a burgeoning surveillance state, and more.”
I will celebrate the day America elects a woman as president. But choosing the most obvious figurehead for progress of women’s presence in politics and choosing the best candidate for president are not the same thing. Clinton is not our best option for 2016. I can’t wait for the long-overdue, imminently historical advent of America being lead by its first woman president. But there is another, equally valid choice, and I don’t give a damn anymore which one has a vagina.
We’re into the idea of a fully-realized version of Obamacare; we want a total reform of the prison industrial complex and other racist governmental policies; we want an end to police brutality; total reform of campaign financing; an end to attacks on women’s reproductive health. Without superstar millionaires to give a shoutout to, Sanders has greater stake in making these ideas reality. Hell, I lived in Canada for six years; I’d at least like to see social issues and financial stability in our country at least catch up to our pals up in Canada in our lifetimes, even if our leader won’t be as good eye candy (sorry not sorry).
I will not vote for Hillary Clinton because she is a woman. But, full disclosure, if she does become the Democratic nominee of choice this November, I will vote for Hillary Clinton, but still, not because she is a woman. If we’re stuck with Hillary Clinton, I will vote for her because she will be the better of two evils. But aren’t we over that yet? Electing Bernie could be the first in a series of very necessary steps away from this rigged two-party system.