As the 2020 elections draw closer and closer, candidates have begun to show their truest colors. Sometimes this appears to be done intentionally, but other times information is released that exposes someone’s most authentic character flaws.
In a world where all the information we could ever hope to find, both good and bad, is right at our fingertips – how do we decide what we really believe when it comes to someone’s integrity?
In mid-January, Elizabeth Warren released that, in a private meeting between the two in 2018, her friend and fellow democratic candidate, Bernie Sanders, stated that a woman could never win the presidency.
Obviously, this is a highly contentious statement which sparked plenty of debate between not only the two candidates who are currently facing off for the nomination, but among new outlets and voters as well. Besides the fact that this statement is overtly sexist, it is also highly illogical, as past Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, was able to claim the popular vote by 3 million only a little over three years ago, in addition to the numerous women who have had other major successes, taking office in congress as of winter 2019.
When claims such as these are made, it is easy to jump on the bandwagon of cancel culture and immediately turn our backs on whoever the fingers are being pointed at. Of course, if someone said that a woman could never be president, that person needs to be held accountable.
However, in this particular situation, the water became clouded by Sanders’ adamant claims that he never made such a statement, nor does he even agree with the notion that a woman could not hold such a position of power.
So what do we do, in this case?
Warren has made it very clear that this is the narrative she chose to believe, but many can’t help but believe Sanders has made it equally clear that this is a claim he would never make. This has led many to wonder if this is all a ploy by the Warren Campaign to smear a good bit of dirt on Sanders’ name as time closes in on the race for the Democratic nomination.
How do we decide what we really believe when it comes to someone’s integrity?
As Warren and Sanders are both frontrunners in the polls, it is difficult to differentiate truth from the dirty political low-blows that so often occur during election season. Especially given the fact that it feels as if we are missing quite a bit of context for what might have actually been said during this two-person meeting.
What we can do is look at each candidate’s past. Warren, for example, has a history of being very vocal in favor of women’s rights, fighting for safe and legal abortion access, higher mortality rates for mothers and the like, all of which are actions that have surely contributed to her success over time.
Sanders, on the other hand, has been a firm nonbeliever in identity politics, making it clear after the 2016 election that he hoped that kind of affiliation was something people would be able to transcend. His democratic-socialist policies and platforms have allowed him to recently become endorsed by some of the biggest female names in politics at the moment, including Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Ilhan Omar.
While Warren is an avid activist for the well being and success of all women, playing the gender card and tapping into the practice of organizations such as the #MeToo movement, in which all women are believed when they make allegations against wrongdoers, could be extremely detrimental to her own campaign in addition to the forward progression of feminism.
Unfortunately, we currently live in a country where many people actually do believe that women are incapable of holding titles such as president.
If Sanders and his supporters are correct in his innocence and Warren really did make her claim just to knock Sanders out of her way, then she has delegitimized every movement meant to protect women by misusing them for her own personal gain.
There is a strong possibility in this fight that no one is wrong. It could simply be a textbook case of twisted words, lack of context and misinterpretation. That being said, using the women’s rights movement in this way could lose Warren a great deal of her feminist supporters, the same demographic she aimed to turn against Sanders by painting him to be ingnorant and sexist.
Inherently, this situation circles back around to identity politics. It would be wonderful to see a woman finally take office in the near future. Those who truly believe that women cannot hold such positions need to be shown the truth. However, to have a woman who manipulates the movement to her own advantage as the one to take office would be completely counterproductive to the feminist progress that truly needs to be made.
Ali Kochik is a second-year English major minoring in journalism and women and gender studies. AK908461@wcupa.edu.