Presidential politics: the Berkeley Blog debate

As Hillary Clinton battles Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination for president, gender is very much part of the conversation — both overtly and between the lines. Recent comments (followed by mea culpas) from former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and feminist icon Gloria Steinem have upped the ante, sparking a heated exchange, online and in the media, on gender, feminism and generational perspectives.

Peggy O'Donnell

Peggy O’Donnell, history Ph.D. candidate

Peggy O’Donnell, a Ph.D. candidate in history at Berkeley and a self-described “millennial woman in the midst of my own late-20s feminist awakening,” joined that conversation with a post on the Berkeley Blog, “Feminism’s fault lines: understanding young women’s support for Bernie.”

“I was unsettled by how dismissive Steinem and Albright sounded about the possibility that young women who support Sanders could have any legitimate political reasons for doing so,” O’Donnell writes.

“Their comments, or perhaps more accurately the outrage their comments inspired among young women, reveal a striking generational divide with regards to women’s political priorities,” she says. For many millennial women, “economic issues may loom larger in their minds and lives than more traditional ‘women’s’ issues.'”

In response, Robin Lakoff, a professor emerita of linguistics, penned “An open letter to Peggy O’Donnell.”

“Women will need a president who has more than a passing interest in our rights,” Lakoff writes. Sanders may be sympathetic, but “I don’t feel they are vitally important for him – not things he would go to the mat for…. I worry about the many things he has had virtually nothing to say about, women’s rights being just one.”

Meanwhile, political science lecturer Terri Bimes, who teaches courses on the American presidency, takes a close look at what Trump needs to do to amass 1,237 delegates and secure the Republican nomination, in “The long and uncertain path to a Trump victory.”

Alternatively, “If party leaders deny Trump the nomination, they risk him bolting and running as a third-party candidate. Hold on to your seats, the rest of the primary season will be a wild ride,” Bimes writes.

And political scientist Jack Citrin, director of the Institute of Governmental Studies, looks back at past elections, and forward to answer the question, “How predictive are Iowa and New Hampshire?