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February 12, 2016
by Ruth Gordon, MA, MSW, LCSW

Bernie vs Hillary - What Does HE Have That SHE Doesn’t?

February 12, 2016 09:00 by Ruth Gordon, MA, MSW, LCSW  [About the Author]

As Bernie Sanders’ political fortunes take flight in the 2016 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton finds herself abandoned by the group she assumed she could count on: Women. 

Older women appear to stand behind Hillary.  It is the so-called “millennials”, women born roughly between 1978 and 2000, who do not like and/or trust her. These women who may, or may not, call themselves feminists were not even born when Marilyn French’s book The Women’s Room added fuel to an already simmering fire.

Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, and Bella Abzug grappled with issues such as legal abortion, sexual harassment, and domestic violence. And while these matters are still not settled, these women brought them to the forefront in the mid 1960’s. Hillary Clinton became a part of this movement and helped to pave the way for today’s post feminists.

For the millennials this is “old stuff”, and they see feminism in a different light.  These women are insulted when they are expected to vote for a woman merely because she is a woman.  For the most part, they are confident that there will be a woman president at some point and feel no urgency for that to happen now.

Having been in the public eye, or perhaps because of her own inclination, Hillary is careful and reserved on the campaign trail.  Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, appears to be unshackled.  He does not give a hoot about the Democratic Party, he calls himself a Democratic Socialist. It is notable that, as of yet, there is no panic about his socialism. In the recent past, President Obama was accused of pushing socialism on the country with his health care plan.  The mood of the voters has changed.

Bernie has been unwaveringly himself. This appeals to many millennials, who are looking for passion and authenticity. He promises a new dawn and bright future. The millennials do not appear to be concerned if his ideas are workable, they believe him and believe in him. His enthusiasm has been contagious, and his star has risen accordingly.

In a word, Bernie Sanders has charisma — a quality that is found in Bill Clinton, but not his wife, Hillary. Although Hillary tries to relax and be “one of the guys (or gals)”, she is not. The millennial voters do not perceive Hillary as being compassionate and nurturing. In fact, many of them believe that Secretary Clinton and President Obama have left the world in a more volatile condition than it was before the Obama Presidency.

On the other hand, millennial voters believe that Bernie can and will put the welfare of the country before politics.  Not so Hillary Clinton, who has been identified as an integral part of old school politics.

There are older voters who remember the Eugene McCarthy fiasco in 1968.  At that time many who were idealistic thought that McCarthy would bring the country back to it’s senses. He was against the Viet Nam War and was the first person to challenge President Lyndon Johnson.  McCarthy’s popularity among the voters contributed to Johnson’s decision to not run for President.  McCarthy became the Democratic candidate and he was crushed by Richard Nixon.

Hillary represents continuity. What many of the voters in this age group are looking for is a discontinuance of the status quo. The fact that she stands for resilience and perseverance has not swayed them in her direction. They do not care that she shone in the Benghazi hearings.

Another issue working against Hillary is that she is a Clinton. A large number of voters see the Clintons as arrogant, entitled and corrupt. She is a wealthy white woman.  They accuse her of intersectionality — the criss crossing of power that applies to white women only.  The vote of women of color in the South Carolina primary is viewed as essential for her to succeed as the Democratic candidate for President.

The final candidates for each party will be decided in July of 2016.  After that the wounds of the campaign must be healed as the two parties compete to elect a President.  It is impossible to predict what more will come to light about all of the contenders.  One thing is certain, each of them must be able to stand the heat that comes with this kind of rivalry.


Crocker, L. (2015, October 15). Why Millennial Feminists Don't Like Hillary. Retrieved February 10, 2016, from
LaMastra, S. (2015, October 23). Hillary Clinton: What Difference Does It Make...To Millennials. Retrieved February 10, 2016, from the
Sheehy, G. (2016, January 19). The Women Who Should Love Hillary Clinton. Retrieved February 10, 2016, from
Sopel, J. (2016, February 8). U.S. Election: Hillary Clinton's Problem With Young Women. Retrieved February 10, 2016, from
Wallace, K. (2016, February 9). Why the Female Generational Divide for Hillary Clinton? Retrieved February 10, 2016, from

About the Author

Ruth Gordon Ruth Gordon, MA/MSW/LCSW

I bring with me +30 years of experience as a clinician. My Masters degrees are from: Assumption College, Worcester, MA, Master of Arts in Psychology & Counseling/ and Boston University School of Social Work, Boston, MA, an MSW in Clinical Social Work. This is the 11th year I have written a monthly newsletter that is sent to approximately 500 individuals. The archive can be found on my website,

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