Sara Matthiesen on Bernie’s Feminism & Helaine Olen on Joe Biden’s Record on Social Security

Critics have tried to tar Bernie Sanders with the brush of sexism, implied if not explicit. But gender studies scholar Sara Matthiesen says Bernie could be the first feminist president. We talk with her about her article in the Nation, “Bernie Could be America’s First Feminist President.”

Then, with all its importance to the lives of most Americans, Social Security doesn’t often make it into the headlines. That changed this week when the Sanders campaign charged that Joe Biden’s record on Social Security is flawed, suggesting it could weaken him against Trump in the general election. We spoke with Washington Post columnist Helaine Olen about her recent post, “Sanders is right: Biden is Vulnerable to Trump on Social Security.”

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Sara Matheissen

Many American voters believe electing a woman president is long overdue. But the interests of women for greater equality, reproductive choice and a whole host of other issues that disproportionately affect women do not rest on electing a woman for president. They rest on the policies that a president of any gender would promote.

Electing a woman president is about representation, seeing somebody like “me” in the office. But in her December article in the Nation magazine, Bernie Could be America’s First Feminist President, Sara Matthiesen says electing a president who will fight for women’s rights — including working class and poor women — is about solidarity, benefiting all women.

Sara Matthiesen is an assistant professor of history and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at George Washington University. Her forthcoming book, Reproduction Reconceived, tells the history of family-making in the post-Roe era.

Helaine Olen
To many Americans, Social Security is a lifeline. The benefit makes up a majority of cash income for 61% of older beneficiaries, and a third rely on it for 90% or more of their income.

That’s according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Without Social Security, it’s estimated that 15 million more elders would live in poverty. It’s even more of a lifeline for women and people of color.

Our guest Helaine Olen says Social Security is one of the great feminist issues, like access to abortion, and should be understood that way. It’s also an issue of racial justice.

Social Security crashed into the headlines this week when the Sanders campaign charged that Joe Biden’s record on Social Security is flawed. Others have suggested Biden’s record on Social Security could weaken him against Trump in the general election.

Joe Biden says he currently supports expanding and protecting Social Security. But questions remain because of his long history of advocating cuts to the program and praising Republican efforts to do so.

Helaine Olen has written many articles on Social Security and Medicare, the most recent appearing in the Washington Post, entitled Sanders is right: Biden is vulnerable to Trump on Social Security.

Olen is a columnist for the Washington Post and the author of POUND FOOLISH: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry , a book we spoke with her about in 2013.

Read A Transcript of the Interview with Olen here.

Next week on Writers Voice

We play what we had originally planned this week before the headlines got in the way: our interview with Michael Klare about his latest book All Hell Breaking Loose, The Pentagon’s Perspective on Climate Change.