Democrats torn on candidates’ support of women’s rights

Published: February 25, 2016

Photo courtesy of wikimedia commons IN WHAT has become a two-horse race, Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have served as foils to one another in regard to most issues, but it is unclear which candidate has a stronger sense on the  issues that women voters face.

PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / IN WHAT has become a two-horse race, Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have served as foils to one another in regard to most issues, but it is unclear which candidate has a stronger sense on the
issues that women voters face.

Commentary by
ERIN McCORMICK

With primary and caucus season heating up in anticipation of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions in July, candidates across the board are being forced to pinpoint their views on the most important issues. Attacks on both ends of the political spectrum are intensifying, and those running are finding themselves defending their track record and consistency.

For the remaining two Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, plenty of issues are helping to define the race. Perhaps one of the most intriguing topics in the race between the two is that of women’s issues.

Much has been made of who is the real proponent of women’s issues- some argue that Hillary, as a female herself, is the clear winner on issues such as abortion rights and wage equality. Others say that Sen. Sanders has a clearer, stronger record on voting for and supporting legislation that aids women.

It is indeed clear that former Secretary of State Clinton is at least somewhat more moderate on women’s issues than Bernie Sanders.

Her support of legislation regarding to contraception and the wage gap has been less outspoken. In addition, her campaign and supporters have resorted to equating feminism with automatically voting for the female- a toxic ideal. Sanders, on the other hand, has showed a consistent record fighting for issues such as abortion (he has a 100 percent voting rating by the National Abortion Rights League) and paid maternity leave.

So maybe Bernie is the stronger candidate on women’s issues, or at the very least, one who doesn’t use his gender alone to garner votes. But his outspoken stances on all topics, including women’s issues, have caused the more moderate Hillary Clinton to shift leftward in her positions, in order to appeal to more liberal voters. Many may see this as an act of dishonesty on Clinton’s part.

However, there is something to be said about the power of the democratic process in the United States when a shift in popular opinion causes an equal shift in the actions of those who represent that populace, even if the representative’s support may not be entirely genuine. It’s a positive note in what has been a rather negative campaign season, and one that gives hope that no matter which Democratic candidate secures the nomination, the issues that most concern women will remain at the forefront of the race.

Contact the writer: erin.mccormick@scranton.edu

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