She Said, He Said

I wanted to say a little something about the latest kerfuffle in the Democratic Primary race. Elizabeth Warren said that, in a closed door meeting between the two, Bernie Sanders said that a woman couldn’t win the presidency. Sanders denies saying any such thing. Audio was captured after the last presidential debate of them arguing about it. Progressives are kind of freaked out about it and Sanders’ supporters are being even nastier than usual.

The useless press is saying that one of them is lying. They say Warren could be lying to stop Sanders’ surge in the polls. They say Sanders could be lying to keep from alienating women. My gut is telling me that neither one of them is lying. I believe that Warren really did hear Sanders’ skepticism about a woman being able to win, and I believe that Sanders doesn’t know he said anything wrong.

I don’t have any privileged information on the matter. My gut is simply reacting to what I know about Warren and Sanders. That is that Warren is a woman and Sanders is sexist. Warren being a woman makes her a competent judge of sexism. She’s been dealing with it her entire life. It’s long past time we start believing women’s reports of sexism. I also think Warren is too smart to think lying about it would be a good strategy. She knows that we are still too sexist as a country to think that she would be believed in a “he said, she said” situation. She sat through the Kavanaugh hearings after all.

Sanders’ sexism may not be in the same class as Kavanaugh (or Trump), but it’s unmistakable. I give him the benefit of the doubt and call it old man sexism. In certain contexts, it’s almost forgivable sexism. His attitude toward women was probably progressive fifty years ago. But times have changed and he hasn’t kept up. It was painfully obvious in his interactions with Clinton in 2016 and especially in his disbelieving reaction to her overwhelming victory. Nothing has changed in 2020. He’s still arrogant and condescending every time he interacts with a woman.

So, I feel pretty certain that Sanders thinks he was just being practical as he said something really insulting to Warren. In a more just world, this disagreement would really hurt Sanders. We shouldn’t stand for casual sexism anymore, certainly not from our presidential candidates. But, as with Clinton, Sanders’ supporters, the media, and the general public are likely to blame the victim and start complaining that Warren is wrong.

I feel that this is important because I’m tired of the narrative that Warren and Sanders are interchangeable. Warren is clearly the better candidate in terms of intelligence, temperament, and understanding. Add to that the fact that she’s better on women’s issues and race, and she’s just a far superior candidate. I’m not saying I won’t vote for Sanders if he wins the primaries, a boiled turnip would be better than Trump, but I’d be much happier voting for Warren.

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