LET’S TALK ABOUT REPRESENTATION

by Matilda Carter

This week Bernie Sanders made his full transformation from democratic figleaf for Hillary Clinton’s inevitable candidacy to serious contender, if still the underdog. In a mirroring of Jeremy Corbyn’s rise to the Labour leadership, Sanders has swept away the idea of socialism as a dirty word amongst the party faithful and has exposed the lack of ideas and vision from the compromising, centrist party leadership. Much like Corbyn’s rise to power, however, it is notable that millenials have voted in their droves for an old white man to be their saviour.

So far Clinton has refrained from playing the gender card, though many of her supporters have failed to, but this defeat in New Hampshire will open the floodgates. Clinton was always supposed to be the first female President in the minds of the Democratic leadership and they are going to do all they can to remind Bernie’s supporters of the opportunity they will lose over the coming months.

if candidates that represent their constituents descriptively fail to do so substantively (representing their interests) then they do not represent them at all

Yes, it is surprising that the Left, who have spent the last twenty years focusing on identity politics, have come to see an old white man as their saviour both sides of the pond — but those who plan to vote for Clinton over Sanders on these grounds are gravely mistaken on the issue of representation Descriptive representation (candidates that look like their constituents) is undoubtedly important, but if candidates that represent their constituents descriptively fail to do so substantively (representing their interests) then they do not represent them at all.

(Hillary Clinton © David Zalubowski / AP)

Hillary Clinton has flip-flopped on issues like gay marriage, selling out her lesbian and bisexual sisters before supporting them when it became politically convenient. Hillary Clinton takes donations from the banks which wrecked the global economy and sent shockwaves worldwide that disproportionately affected young women.  Clinton is not interested in undergoing a systematic reorganisation of the American economy so that it supports working class and minority women. Hers is not just the very definition of white feminism, it is the very definition of career feminism, where working-class women and public sector workers are damned because their greatest ambition is not to make it into a boardroom.

The same nonsense occurred here when Liz Kendall and Yvette Cooper’s supports cried sexist at supporters of Jeremy Corbyn despite their commitment to maintaining economic policies which have disproportionately hurt women. Was Margaret Thatcher a great advocate of women’s rights? Angela Merkel? Marine Le Pen? Figureheads are useless unless they represent their constituents’ interests and in the case of Sanders vs Clinton, or indeed Corbyn vs Cooper/Kendall, it’s clear where the better substantive representation lies.

Featured Image: Sen. Bernie Sanders &  Jeremy Corbyn © Jay Paul, Peter Nicholls / Reuters

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