A question about women and power should have been easy to answer for the candidates on the Democratic presidential debate stage Thursday night. But two of the most prominent men on the stage swung and missed.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt) and former Vice President Joe Biden botched the question from Politico’s Tim Alberta, who brought up former President Barack Obama’s recent comments that if women ruled every country, the world “would see a significant improvement across the board on just about everything.”
Alberta also cited Obama’s observation that most politicians are old men who need to get out of the way for a younger, more diverse generation.
Sanders awkwardly interrupted Alberta and reminded the crowd: “And I’m white, as well!”
The interjection lingered before Alberta finished his question and allowed Sanders to answer in full. The senator then brought up just about every other issue in the book besides gender.
“Here is the issue: the issue is where power resides in America, and it’s not white or Black or male or female,” Sanders said. “We are living in a nation increasingly becoming an oligarchy where you have a handful of billionaires who spent hundreds of billions of dollars buying elections and politicians.”
Sanders went on about income and wealth inequality before diving into his Medicare for All proposal and climate change.
“The issue is not old or young, male or female,” he concluded. “The issue is working people standing up and taking on the billionaire class and creating a government and economy that works for all, not just the 1%.”
Biden didn’t do much better when he addressed the question. After first saying that he was sure that Obama ― who he loyally served as second-in-command ― wasn’t referring to him, he rambled on about his age and, later, domestic and foreign policy.
“The next president of the United States is going to inherit an economy that is out of kilter and a domestic policy that needs to unite America,” Biden said, as well as “a foreign policy that requires somebody to be able to, on day one, stand up, look out, the entire world know who that person [is], know what they stand for, know they know them and that’s the reason I’m running” ― a response that clearly had nothing to do with the gender question.
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang was the only male candidate to provide thoughtful, on-target comments. He first said that at its core, “our country is deeply misogynist and most all of us know that. Money and men are tied together.”
He continued: “The fact is, strong societies would elect more female leaders.”
Drawing laughs from the audience, he added: “The fact is if you get too many men and leave us alone for a while, we kind of become morons... Right now, the fact is that we operate in a fundamentally anti-woman marketplace and that includes the market place for politicians.”
The other two men among the seven debate participants ― South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and billionaire Tom Steyer ― did not get a chance to offer responses.