As recently as the last Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton was still suggesting that her gender alone is a viable reason for voters to support her presidential ambitions. Snapping back against claims that she is the establishment candidate, Clinton said she could hardly imagine anything less establishment than being the first female president of the United States.
But if Clinton joined the race believing that American women would rally around this historic opportunity, she was sorely mistaken. Among Democratic and independent female voters under 34, she is losing to Bernie Sanders by 20 points.
That fact led to a couple of sour incidents this weekend when two famous feminists tried to shame millennial women for not getting on board. One salvo came from former secretary of state Madeline Albright, who introduced Clinton at a New Hampshire rally on Saturday. “We can tell our story of how we climbed the ladder, and a lot of you younger women think it’s done. It’s not done,” Albright said. “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!”
Worse yet, feminist leader Gloria Steinem appeared on Bill Maher’s HBO talk show on Friday night and made a rather shocking statement about why young women were going to Sanders. “When you’re young,” she said, “you’re thinking, ‘Where are the boys?’ The boys are with Bernie.”
Maher was taken aback by the comment, telling Steinem that if he’d said something like that, she would have been the first one to criticize it. Steinem waved off the suggestion and stood by her statement.
Assuming these comments have any effect at all, they will almost certainly not draw millennial women over to the Clinton camp. These women already lashed out at DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who suggested two weeks ago that young females were getting “complacent” about abortion rights. If today’s feminists can’t even take that kind of weak criticism, they’re unlikely to sit by and be told that they are only supporting Bernie Sanders to fill out their date cards.
Truth is, it’s hard to think of anything less empowering for women than to suggest that they somehow owe it to the feminist movement to vote for Hillary Clinton. Do you think any of these feminists would have said anything of the kind about Carly Fiorina? Of course not. You have to support a woman, but only a specific kind of woman with a specific set of political beliefs. Kind of like how black leaders have been utterly silent about Dr. Ben Carson.
If Clinton is to the point where she’s going to guilt-trip women into voting for her, she might be in more trouble than even the polls indicate.