Feminist Clinton? VP Kaine is Fiercely Against Abortion Rights
Democratic nominee for vice president Kaine contradicted Clinton's repeated assertions that he is on board with ending the federal ban on abortion.
Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s pick for vice president, supports a law that bans public funding for abortion, he confirmed on CNN in an interview Sunday, in contrast with the Democratic presidential nominee, who said she would fight the law and push for legalizing abortion as her campaign repeatedly stated that Kaine was totally on board with her on the issue.
Contradicting comments by Clinton's campaign, Kaine said he supported the Hyde Amendment, a 40-year-old rule preventing federal taxpayer dollars from funding abortions unless in cases of rape, incest and life endangerment.
"I have been for the Hyde Amendment. I haven't changed my position on that," Kaine told CNN’s Jake Tapper then repeated, "I have not changed my position. Have not changed my position on that."
His remarks, the first on abortion rights and Clinton’s pro-choice policy, contradict comments by Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook.
Mook told CNN’s Tapper on July 24 that Kaine "has said that he will stand with Secretary Clinton to defend a woman's right to choose, to repeal the Hyde Amendment."
Over the past few months Clinton and her campaign have sought to present her as the feminist choice for the presidency, that women should fall in line with her due to her longstanding support for a women's choice and her opposition to the Hyde Amendment.
“Politicians have no business interfering with women's personal health decisions,” Clinton said in a statement last January. “I will oppose efforts to roll back women's access to reproductive health care, including Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. As president, I'll stand up for Planned Parenthood and women’s access to critical health services, including safe, legal abortion.”
However, Clinton seems to have picked a running mate that falls in the very category of those politicians she mentions in her statement on women's choice.
Kaine, a Catholic who served as a missionary in Honduras, has been open about his personal opposition to abortion. And as Virginia governor, from 2006-2010, he approved several anti-abortion bills.
After he was announced as the VP pick, liberal media outlets as well as the Clinton campaign sought to calm concerns over Kaine’s opinion on a woman's right to choice abortion.
They argued that he would separate his personal beliefs and opinions from his political life and also said that his views on abortion have changed over the years towards the pro-choice camp.
However, his latest comments prove that he continues to stand against abortion and would in fact attempt to push a Clinton administration toward a harder stance on abortion rights.
The current Democratic platform, which is meant to outline the party nominee’s agenda when elected president and was pushed for by Clinton’s initial opponent Bernie Sanders, contains the strongest language yet against Hyde.
Why Young Women Don't Buy Hillary Clinton’s Feminism
For Super Tuesday, the Democratic primaries scheduled for March 1, women’s votes are expected to be a determining factor: women account for 52 percent of the country's electorate, and more women identify as Democrats than Republicans.
Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton
In this context, candidate Hillary Clinton has partly based her campaign on her image as an advocate for women’s rights. She has peppered her campaign with feminist rhetoric. Some of her proxies have even tried to make women voters feel guilty if they do not vote for her out of “gender solidarity,” like former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who said “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!”
Yet, her efforts have not paid off, especially among younger women in the U.S., who thus far have clearly prefered her rival Senator Bernie Sanders. In the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary, between 82-84 percent of Democratic women under the age of 30 voted for the Vermont senator.
What can explain such a wholesale rejection of Clinton by young women?
1. How feminist is Clinton as a woman?
Clinton has tried to present her successful professional career itself as a triumph of feminism, suggesting that winning the Democratic primaries and then the U.S. presidency would represent a victory for all women.
But today the argument of living as a woman in a sexist world, and as a result only voting for a woman like Clinton can lead to emancipation, is failing to resonate with younger women.
In the opinion of many radical groups, Clinton’s character and decisions as a policymaker have disqualified her from her feminist claim.
The way Clinton reacted to allegations about her husband's sexual misconduct when he was running office in 1992 has been a recurrent target of such groups, as Hillary is reported to have said “these women are trash. Nobody’s going to believe them.”
2. Is Sanders’ program more feminist than Clinton’s?
Gloria Steinem recently said that young women supported Sanders because “the boys are with Bernie.”
However, more importantly it seems that young women just plainly believe that Sanders' progressive economic social programs will do much more for them than Clinton’s moderate ones.
Furthermore, as a senator and secretary of state, she consistently supported policies that were harmful to women, claim radical feminist organizations.
Among these critical groups is AF3IRM, a U.S. transnational feminist organization, made up primarily of women of color, a population more severely impacted by poverty in the U.S.
AF3IRM National Chair Jollene Levid told teleSUR that Clinton's policies directly or indirectly had devastating effects on poor people and especially women, citing for instance her support for the escalation of the war on drugs, for the gutting of welfare programs in the 1990s, and more recently for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
With the TPP, Clinton has not just affected women within the United States but also abroad, said Levid.
He also supports the legalization of sex work, gaining support among a certain faction of feminists.
“(We support Sanders) because we think he best encompasses our feminist beliefs,” said “Mistress Simone” to Mediaite. “Hillary doesn’t support legalizing sex work, so it’d be ridiculous for us to support someone who doesn’t acknowledge our autonomy and would rather see prostitutes arrested than respected.”
Mistress Simone and other dominatrixes even engaged in a campaign offering to give $US27 spankings to Wall Street traders, with the money then donated directly to Sanders’ campaign.
3. A generation divide and a change in feminist thought?
First, age seems to be an important factor not only with young women but also with young men, partly because the youth is in general more open to idealistic and radical ideas, which is what Sanders has been pushing on the campaign trail.
Clinton, on the other hand, represents a more conservative trend that she even openly embraced in a 1996 NPR interview that recently resurfaced.
“I feel like my political beliefs are rooted in the conservatism that I was raised with,” she said then, adding she was “very proud (she) was a Goldwater girl” — referring to her involvement in Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign.
As for women, the generation divide plays an even greater role: for older generations, the idea of having a woman president would symbolically represent a thrilling victory; but for younger generations who obtained most of the privileges their mothers were fighting for, the gender of their future president is less relevant than the actual political program.
“For my grandma, my mom, my aunt, having a woman president is really important,” Sanders supporter Clare Salerno told The Times. “I haven’t been in the workplace, I haven’t really felt that.”
This new generation of feminists insists on the importance of “intersectionality” — meaning that gender is so intertwined with other social identities like race and class that it’s impossible to prioritize one over another.
Yet Clinton strikingly “lacks intersectionality,” said Levid. She “represents corporate, neoliberal, white feminism,” and “has a class interest,” she added, alluding for instance to Clinton’s involvement on the Walmart Board, a position which isolates her from the core of women involved at AF3IRM who are “living on a minimum wage.”
If Clinton wins the nomination, which many analysts say appears likely leading up to Super Tuesday, progressive feminists, especially young ones, will have an easier choice choosing between her and any of the Republican candidates.