When I saw how little Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton beat opponent Bernie Sanders by in the Iowa primaries this week, I was surprised. Taking less than a percentage point loss, Sanders redefined the defeat as a “virtual tie.”
The U.S. Senator from Vermont has been framed as the underdog in this race, going up against a presumable front-runner who is a party favorite. Sanders’ platform speaks of a “revolution” going after the big banks while liberating the 99-percent of the population.
Clinton is more reserved than that, choosing to push policy that will help mend the current Congressional divides instead. At first glance, it’s easy to position Sanders as “The People’s Champ” going up against the political machine establishment.
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But then you have to remember that Sanders is an old white man who has been in office for decades, while Clinton is an experienced stateswoman trying to prove to American once again that she’s presidential material.
If the gender-roles were reversed, we wouldn’t be giving Sanders this much attention at all. Pound-for-pound, he lacks the political capital, experience, and pedigree that Hillary possesses. Suddenly, when the tables are turned in favor of female empowerment, it’s no longer desired for candidates to be well connected.
This revelation exposes how much the nation’s deep-seated sexism plays a role in imposing double standards on women running for office. For one, since when did having too much experience become a political sin?
Many supporters tout Sanders’ linear voting record as a way of countering the more administrative moves made by Clinton throughout the years. Although Senatorial votes are important, they don’t compare to the significance of that role and Secretary of State combined.
Hillary has respectfully worn both hats and has tackled different sets of challenges that are more complex than just taking a stand on behalf of a small state. In other words, it’s easier for Sanders to declare bold solutions in Congress because such decisions aren’t as risky or immediate as the one’s Hillary’s had to make during her more diverse leadership.
She shouldn’t be penalized for not being a radical revolutionary when working under a more levelheaded Commander in Chief. But Bernie knows nothing about those obstacles because unlike Hillary – he’s kept the same job. And for many voters, his male privilege still entitles him to feel qualified enough for the presidency.
Meanwhile, Hillary has had to humble herself after initially losing to President Obama in 2008 and then work in his administration in order to prove she was still worthy of running again. It would be immature to label her as a spoiled political successor when she has broken multiple glass ceilings in order to be taken seriously again.
If the GOP could give Mitt Romney a second shot at the Presidential nomination after his failed initial bid in 2008, Democrats owe it to Hillary to see what she will do this time. I could see if Vice President Biden was up against Clinton, but Sanders’ hyper-liberal pandering shouldn’t hold as much of a candlestick to her. Let’s not rebuke our messages of progressiveness when it comes to women.