One Secret to Bernie Sanders’ Success? He’s Not a Woman.

…My strong suspicion is that, in any nominating race featuring a female candidate, there will always be a Bernie Sanders—a male alternative whose gender allows him to do everything his female opponent cannot.

…Early in the [2008] race, Clinton seemed to be a clear favorite. She positioned herself as practical, hard-nosed, and shrewd—qualities likely designed to dispel gross stereotypes about the ostensible weakness of her gender. Predictably, it freaked people out.

…Obama framed himself as Clinton’s emotional antipode: an idealistic, optimistic, ebullient dreamer. The subtext of his message was that there will be time to elect a female president later; now is the time to elect *me.*

Obama’s strategy was probably not borne out of canny sexism; most misogynistic dog whistles emerged from the right-wing press, not his campaign. Still, Clinton was boxed in completely: If she stuck with her tough-minded pragmatism, she would continue to be depicted as an unlikable shrew. …If she campaigned on her emotions like Obama, she would be mocked mercilessly as weak (at best) or manipulative (at worst) by her foes in the press. Clinton lost the primary for many reasons, but…  

In stepped Sanders: Brash, no-nonsense, straight-talking, uncompromisingly liberal. (Or so he liked to claim: In actuality, Sanders has a spotty record on gay rights and a terrible record on guns.) Democrats flocked to him as a more progressive alternative to Clinton, despite the fact that …he and Clinton have mostly minor policy disputes… Sanders is heralded as …[THE] true progressive, even though his most liberal proposals are politically dead in the water.

One Secret to Bernie Sanders’ Success? He’s Not a Woman.


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