Why Bernie Sanders Is The Best Feminist For The Job

A truly progressive agenda is a truly feminist agenda. There’s no getting around that.

When most of women’s day-to-day work goes largely unpaid and unnoticed by money — unpaid work like the birthing and rearing of children, caring for the elders of the family, redistributing resources and social networking, and domestic work — a strong and shame-free welfare system is an imperative. Money can’t and won’t recognize the natural work of the female because money was made by men, for men. It is the oldest tool of the patriarchy. Money recognizes men’s work, and that’s not a coincidence, that was by design, but more importantly it means the value that money places on a service isn’t a definitive value of the worth of the work to humanity. Just because money recognizes and rewards deforestation for example, but can’t see the value in a woman looking after her disabled child, doesn’t mean that caring for disabled children is work of lesser value than felling trees.

In fact, you can pinpoint what is naturally feminine work by looking at where money fails to create the best outcome for humans. Healthcare, for example, is traditional female work, and a glaring example of where capitalism fails. If you let money run healthcare as they do in the States, you end up with a system that creates sick people, rather than helps them. Capitalism dictates that you must get as many customers as possible paying as high a price as possible. When your customers are patients, that means creating as many sick people as possible. And when sick people are completely vulnerable to providers with no negotiation power because not receiving service means, well, dying, there is no ceiling to that price point. It’s not like buying a car; you can’t just walk away when your life is at stake.

In the case of healthcare, the intelligence of money does a very bad job of looking after people. Healthcare needs to be overseen by people who are not invested in creating more patients and making them into ongoing customers. That’s why it works so well as a government responsibility — when a government is looking after healthcare, it puts the onus of affordability and efficacy back where it should be. When the government is paying, it is in the country’s best interest to keep your health costs to a minimum, because they are footing the bill, so they will seek that outcome. That means keeping you healthy is in the country’s bottom line’s best interest, which also makes your ongoing health the valued commodity, not your ongoing sickness.

And when there is just one main “customer” — the government — healthcare providers have to compete with each other again, stumping up their best prices to get the business, rather than tacitly colluding with each other to drive prices as high as the market will accept. When configured this way, the government has all the say in negotiating prices with providers and can efficiently negotiate in the patient’s best interest — which also happens to be the government’s best interest. Negotiating is a luxury that individual patients don’t have. When you have a government negotiating for the collective, that is some powerful bargaining leverage right there.

That’s why countries with socialized universal healthcare do so much better not just in terms of patient health outcomes, but in beating prices down, too. In America today, patients pay about twice as much for pharmaceutical drugs than the other OECD nations, all of which have universal healthcare.

So if you look where money is currently failing to provide the best consumer outcomes — healthcare, education, welfare, the environment, social services, mental health — you can bet that it’s because it’s the domain of the feminine. And the only way we can force money to recognize these important areas of humanity is to use the feminine principle of the collective — in this case, the government — to take care of it. That’s called socialism.

That’s why a progressive candidate like Bernie Sanders scares the pants off pharmaceutical companies and why they act like it’s the end of days whenever the prospect of universal healthcare comes up. They know that socialized healthcare puts the bargaining power right back into the hands of the consumer, and will drive their margins right down. So, I guess it kinda is like it’s the end of days, for the pharmaceutical companies at least. For everyone else, it’s the beginning of the best healthcare outcomes for the best price.

It’s also why the most progressive candidate is always the most feminist candidate. When Bernie Sanders refuses to accept a $2,700 check from notorious price gouger Martin Shkreli, while Hillary Clinton accepts $164,315 in the first six months of her campaign from big pharma, feminists should sit up and take notice. When Bernie Sanders puts free college for everyone front and center in his offering, while Hillary Clinton skirts the issue and finally is pushed into a tepid policy of college, but only for the underprivileged, with plenty of wriggle room for winding that back at a later date, feminists should sit up and take notice. When Bernie Sanders consistently and ferociously puts dealing with climate change at the forefront of his agenda, while Hillary Clinton shouts down any suggestion that the huge sums she is taking from fossil fuel interests may affect her performance on the issue, feminists should sit up and take notice.

Feminist issues are socialist issues, by and large, which is probably why both words — “feminist” and “socialist” — are met with similar outrage and backlash. Say you are a feminist and “the Twitterverse explodes,” observed the progressive Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and he pledged to keep calling himself that until the term was met with a shrug. “The fact that it gets such a reaction from the powers and the authority structure that surrounds us really shows how much work we still have to do,” he said.

But feminism is simply “a commitment to fighting for women’s rights,” as Bernie Sanders defined it to the Washington Post. As such, there’s never any legitimate reason not to support a civil rights movement involving half of the human population on planet earth, and yet, I can guarantee you that the comments section of anyone who shares this article will be engulfed by comments ranging from side-mouthed passive aggression to visceral violence, all in attempt to shut down the use of that word.

So yeah, it would be wonderful to have a woman president. Bernie Sanders agrees. “We all want to see that. We want to see women hold more political offices.” But what women desperately need more right now is socialism. It’s women who bare the brunt of unpaid work — having babies, caring and healing, stretching the resources and distributing hand-me-downs, getting small people off to school and elderly people into the shower, keeping everyone in clean clothes and hot dinners, getting that nephew a job and keeping an eye on that wayward uncle, counselling and pastoral care, caring for the more vulnerable members of the family like the sick, disabled, mentally ill and elderly — all of this is predominantly female work.

Of course, many men do this work, and not only that, they do it while carrying the stigma of doing women’s work as well, so they sure could use the recognition and the financial reward, too. Because it’s not just about money, it’s about fairly valuing every contribution to humanity. A veteran in a wheelchair is just as important to the wealth of the human species as a CEO in a business suit. The veteran deserves his dignity too. Capitalism will never pay a child with Down syndrome for bringing joy into the world, but socialism will. That’s why we need both. If we are to truly have equality of the sexes, we will have both the incentive and individualism of capitalism, and the caring compassion of socialism, taking care of both the brightest and the most vulnerable of our species.

It’s the only moral thing to do. Which is why one of Bernie Sanders’ biggest fans is the Pope. On MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Friday, they announced that the Vatican had invited Bernie Sanders to speak about economic morality. Economic morality — what a concept! In the interview, Bernie mentioned how much he admired Pope Francis for tackling “the idolatry of money”.

But really, it’s about our guileless trust in the intelligence of money that is the problem. “Let the market sort it out” is the catch-cry of capitalism, as if the market is some sort of omniscient being. In other words — God.

The question is, can we trust the market to take care of us? Our people? Our future? Our planet?

As the species barrels towards the tipping point of near-term extinction, all key indicators say no. Something more is needed. Some heart, perhaps. The intelligence of compassion.

[Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images]

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