The Generational Divide Among Female Voters


I don’t usually write about politics on this blog (or in general!) but I thought I’d give it a shot. Here goes:

One would think all women would unequivocally support the first female candidate with a real shot at the White House. This is what we’ve been fighting for for decades, is it not? The problem is, some of us have been fighting for it longer and harder than others.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC/Marist College Poll in New Hampshire, “Some 64% of women Democratic voters younger than 45 backed Bernie Sanders, while just 35% supported Clinton…When it comes to women 45 and older, Clinton leads Sanders by 9 percentage points.”

While any woman with half a brain knows sexism is not dead, the older generation feels it more severely than the younger. As a 20 year old college student, I have not yet had my first ‘real’ job, and have therefore only heard stories about the pay gap, lack of female leadership or subpar maternity benefits in the workplace. I have not experienced these things first hand.

Women in the generations above mine, however, have been working for years in environments that support men’s dreams above their own. They’ve been waiting an eternity and they are fed up. They want to see a female in the White House during their lifetime, and are not willing to wait another four to eight years.

That sense of urgency is missing among my peers, who may no longer see feminism as a burning issue in today’s society. According to Lori Day, 52 year old psychologist and author interviewed in this CNN article, “We don’t take for granted any of the progress she [Clinton] helped create because we know that we could lose it, and if a Republican wins the White House, we will…Younger women have no collective memory of this, and they do tend to take things like birth control and legal abortion for granted, simply because these things have always existed in their lifetimes.”

However, statements like former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s, “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other” at a recent Clinton rally are not going over well with younger women, who refuse to vote for her based solely on gender. They argue that one’s gender is not what makes them a feminist, it is more than that.They will vote for a candidate based on policy, not anatomy.

Baby boomers and women of my mother’s generation have spent years of their lives watching Hilary break new ground for women as a first lady, senator and Secretary of State. They view her as a pioneer of sorts, and her ascension to the oval office would be the final step in that collective climb. But many women my age are supporting Bernie Sanders because on his focus on issues facing Millennials, namely college tuition, student debt and minimum wage reform. And although he is a 74 year old white male, he seems oddly more relatable than Hilary in many ways. Janis Brett Elspas, a 59 year old business owner and mother adds, “I also think Hillary’s own age may simply have less appeal and relevancy to those female voters who are much younger than she is.”

In a race that has been largely characterized by inner-party fighting and juvenile name calling, it is important to remember to support one another in our decisions. We as woman do not have to agree on which candidate is best suited for the job– that is the true beauty of democracy after all– but we can agree to work together for the greater good in any ways we can. Because at the end of the day, we all share the experience of being a women in America, and that is something far more unifying than a politician could ever be.

P.s. What did you think? And photo from here

4 thoughts on “The Generational Divide Among Female Voters

  1. Love this post. I’ve seen a lot of my younger female friends get on the Bernie bandwagon because they can’t relate to Hilary yet. I think once you’re in the workforce, so much changes. It is often difficult to be taken seriously as a young female professional, something which I have worked very hard for in the last few years. The more history young women understand, the more likely they are to relate to Hilary. We have been granted rights that we take for granted and the world glamourizes so many females in leadership positions who, instead of being known simply for their brains, still use their bodies or image to get ahead (nothing against our pop princesses and celebs). We live in a world where fashion defines a woman’s political ability. It is easy to take our rights for granted in today’s celeb-obsessed climate. Hard work is not glamorized. Ease is. Yet I also think voters aren’t making decisions based on the gender of their candidate. That may be enough for the generation before us, but they don’t have to pay all those student loans….

  2. Outstanding Micah. Thank you for a balanced conversation about the season we are in. Dad

    PS-I think you are almost at the 100 P+P mark.

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