Super Tuesday is here and many here in California have still not made up their minds. Bernie Sanders has a strong lead here according to most polls, and despite Flavor Flav and Chuck D’s band drama in relation to Bernie’s rally in L.A. on Sunday, it remains intact. There are so many issues to look at when choosing who to support, and undoubtedly, health care and the environment are tops for many of us. Foreign policy tends to be less so for those of us who want to get Trump out, but it is still an important factor to consider. The reality is, we all want to know how the views and potential actions of the people we vote for will affect us and those we love directly, first and foremost. (Read our LGTBQ columnist Michael Cooper’s survey of the candidates platforms on gay issues here and our cannabis columnist’s look at their stances on marijuana here).
With International Women’s Day this week (followed by an entire month filled with female-driven events and celebrations), we thought we’d take to take a look at the remaining candidate’s stances on matters that affect women specifically — namely violence against us, equal pay and abortion rights. These issues are not mutually exclusive of course — health care policy in general affects women in terms of birth control coverage and maternity leaves. Equality is part of a broader Democratic social vision, and all the candidates seem to promote a marked contrast with the current administration when it comes to discrimination and leveling the playing field, especially for marginalized groups — and particularly people of color.
Ultimately each of us will vote based on what is most important to us. The important thing is to have our voices heard by voting period, so please do so no matter whom you choose to support. (And don’t be deterred by the new technology, either!) At press time, Amy Klobuchar ended her bid for the nomination (following Tom Steyer and Pete Buttigieg over the weekend) leaving Sanders, Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren still in contention for the Democratic nomination.
Though he identifies as a supporter of a women’s right to choose, back in 1981 Biden voted to allow states to overturn Roe v. Wade. He also supported the Hyde Amendment (the 1976 provision that banned abortion except when a women’s life is at risk, which was later expanded to include exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape and incest). The provision also bans federal health insurance programs from covering abortions. Though Biden later withdrew his support of Hyde, his early support is troublesome. Reproductive health rights are also absent from the former VP’s current campaign website. He claims to be a proponent for equal pay but when news broke that his female staffers were paid 67 cents on the male dollar, he did not appear to take responsibility. His track record fighting violence against women is impressive, and moving forward he plans to close other loopholes in the federal background check system including the “boyfriend loophole.”
As called out by Elizabeth Warren in the last few debates, Bloomberg’s reputation in regards to women isn’t so great. From inappropriate jokes to harassment, the former New York Mayor has allegedly said and done a lot to make women in his employ feel uncomfortable. As Warren has pointed out, there are nondisclosure agreements in place that will keep this information hidden. Though Bloomberg has since said that the three women referenced by Warren could be released from the NDAs, it seemed disingenuous after his shaky debate performance. Bloomberg has promised to work with Congress to codify Roe v. Wade and continue to support Planned Parenthood and to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. Still, his past record reveals vetoes against women’s rights legislation, so it’s hard to know what he might actually do once in office.
Bernie has been one of the more overt supporters of women’s rights and the right to choose. He has stated that under his healthcare plan every woman in this country will have the right to have an abortion if she wants it. His website states a plan to fully fund Planned Parenthood, undoing the harm incurred by the Trump administration. Sanders also pledges to oppose all efforts to undermine or overturn Roe v. Wade, including appointing federal judges to uphold women’s rights. A longtime supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment, the senator was one of the first officials to demand 12 weeks of family leave (during his 2016 presidential campaign) and he co-sponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act (which included pay equity for women workers) as well. He also voted against the Hyde Amendment (unlike Biden). And yet, some former staffers have said that he’s still somewhat out of touch with women’s rights, the issue being that his focus on economics has muddled important gender issues such as the #MeToo movement. His more aggressive male supporters, a.k.a. “Bernie Bros,” have also turned off many women, just as they have the gay community.
With Amy Klobuchar ending her bid for the nomination today, that leaves Warren the sole female candidate in the running. Warren’s strength in this race has been her attention to details. She always seems to have a plan, and women’s issues are no exception. She has stated an intention to make the rights set forth by Roe v. Wade statutory at the federal level, and she wants to pass preemptive laws that keep states from passing “Targeted Regulations on Abortion Providers” (a.k.a. TRAP) laws. Warren is also a proponent of the EACH Woman Act, which would prevent private insurance companies from restricting the right to abortion. In terms of pay equality, her plan pays particular attention to disparities long suffered by women of color, calling out the ways women get locked into low wages and offering solutions including executive actions to promote equity in the private sector. While women have obvious reasons to back Warren, for many there is hesitation based on electability. Many women are still traumatized by Hillary’s Clinton’s loss to Trump in 2016, and worry that sexism in the voting booth might lead to four more years of Trump. The fear is real.