The Hillary Clinton campaign has taken out its proverbial claws this past week following an historically close contest in the Iowa Democratic Caucus. After the Iowa Democratic Party's recent audit of the results, Sec. Clinton's margin of victory has shrunk to just 0.25 percent due to at least 14 precincts over-reporting numbers in her favor. Sen. Bernie Sanders' campaign is conducting its own audit of the results as well, speaking with over 1,600 precinct captains to see if their first-hand numbers match with those of the official audit. As close as the caucuses were, it exposed a "YUGE" Clinton campaign weakness within a crucial demographic: Millennials, and in particular, Millennial Women.
Bernie Sanders trounced Clinton by 70 points among voters under 30 (84 percent-14 percent) and by roughly 6:1 among women of the same age in the Iowa Caucus. This is not a small problem for the Clinton campaign that can be overcome through the use of subtlety or nuance, this is a big problem and requires bringing out the big guns. They're no longer simply employing the political tactics of doubt and fear (of the GOP candidates, dismantling of Obamacare, raising taxes, etc.) Hillary and her supporters are now using shaming tactics against Millennial women as well.
This past Friday on Real Time with Bill Maher, feminist icon Gloria Steinem said, "As women age, they become more radical ... when they're young, they're like: Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie." Her backhanded dismissal of Sanders' young female support as just an attempt to be where "the boys are" is incredibly disparaging, especially coming from such a champion of feminism. It is also simply inaccurate, as Ms. Steinem has since admitted in an apology on Facebook, saying she "misspoke". Less than a day later, at a Clinton campaign rally in New Hampshire, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright ended a speech with a line directed at young women, "... just remember, there's a special place in hell for women who don't help each other" which received raucous applause from Hillary and her supporters. Sec. Clinton has since defended Sec. Albright's comments, saying it was a, "light-hearted but very pointed remark". She also said Sec. Albright has been saying that for "many, many years".
These seemingly uncoordinated attempts at shaming young women for overwhelmingly supporting Bernie, a man, over Hillary, a woman, (along with Bill Clinton accusing Bernie's supporters of sexism on Sunday) just scream cold-hearted calculation. The Clinton campaign will probably not admit to that, of course, but if she knew what Sec. Albright had said in the past "many, many times" and likely intended her to say again at a rally just days after a resounding defeat amongst millennial women voters, that would make it a "very pointed remark" indeed.
I am a staunch supporter of feminism and equality in general, and I feel there are different stages of feminist progress through the generations. Feminism is the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of (1)political, (2)social, and (3)economic equality to men. While the struggles for each of these stages can and do overlap generations, they are still distinct in their ambitions. The women's suffrage movement fought for a generation and prevailed, securing the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920. That was the "political" equality part of the feminism definition.
The movement began striving to attain its "social" equality in the 60s and 70s through the Baby Boom generation's use of cultural and political pressure and the help of landmark court decisions, such as Roe v. Wade. The children of the Baby Boomers, typically Gen X and Millennials, were raised in an era when women's social equality to men was more or less a given. Unfortunately, the Baby Boomers and subsequent Gen-Xers have been forced to stall the movement's progress. The impediments during feminism's shift from social to economic equality have been caused by repeated attempts at regress from loud voices on the religious extreme of the Republican Party since the Reagan administration.
That is the generation of Hillary Clinton. Those have been her main struggles and should explain why her primary feminist goal is to prevent the political bogeymen from repealing social progress, which is a noble cause; but it is not the Millennial feminist cause. Our cause is picking up where the Boomers left off by finally enacting legislation championing "economic" equality for women, the third stage of feminist progress. Hillary Clinton is fond of constantly reminding her supporters that she is a long-time advocate for closing the gender wage-gap, even though, when she was Senator between 2002-2008, she paid her full-time female staffers 72 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts according to an analysis by the Washington Free Beacon in April of 2015.
Sen. Bernie Sanders has been and continues to fight for equal pay for women, not through rhetoric, but through legislative action. He is the right person to lead and progress the feminist agenda for our generation. Hillary Clinton comes from an older era of feminism, where supporting women in positions of power, the only one's who truly had a voice, was considered a woman's duty. This was symbolically important and helped to change the social perception of women in the workplace and in public office. There is certainly nothing wrong with that fight or resting on its laurels. Millennials, however, have grown around and become empowered by the internet and social media. Now all women have a voice, not just those in positions of power, and it's high time the feminist movement takes the next step in this generational struggle: "economic" equality for women. In that sense, Bernie Sanders is more feminist today than Hillary Clinton. The Clinton campaign desperately needs to "evolve", as she has with other progressive issues, on the current state of the feminism in this country if she hopes to earn Millennial women's votes.