It's a new year, and you know what means: a whole new election season is just around the corner. As familiar faces are beginning to announce their 2020 presidential runs, it's important to acknowledge problems still facing the political landscape, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' 2016 campaign's sexual harassment allegations are a troubling reminder that issues of sexism and misconduct are pervasive. Change needs to start now.
On Jan. 2, The New York Times reported that multiple former staffers had accused the 2016 Sanders presidential campaign of turning a blind eye to issues of sexism within the campaign, including alleged harassment and pay inequality, during the 2016 presidential campaign. Elite Daily reached out to Sanders' press team for comment about the allegations, but did not hear back in time for publication. According to Politico, dozens of staffers who had worked on the campaign sent a letter to Sanders on Sunday, Dec. 30 reportedly asking for a meeting to discuss the alleged sexual harassment and pay inequality issues in order to deal with the issue ahead of the next presidential campaign cycle. Though Sanders himself has not been accused of any misconduct, the allegations overall may pose a serious threat to Sanders' possible 2020 presidential bid, which he has hinted at over the past few months.
On Wednesday, Jan. 2, Sanders spoke to CNN's Anderson Cooper about the claims, and said he was unaware of any allegations since he was "a little bit busy running around the country trying to make the case." He apologized to the women allegedly impacted, saying,
I certainly apologize to any woman who felt that she was not treated appropriately, and of course if I run, we will do better next time. I am not going to sit here and tell you that we did everything right in terms of human resources, in terms of addressing the needs that I'm hearing from now, that women felt they were disrespected, that there was sexual harassment which was not dealt with as effectively as possible.
In the Times report, some women alleged that they had been sexually harassed by campaign surrogates, and when they reported the harassment to superiors had their claims minimized or dismissed or found themselves marginalized. Some staffers also alleged that they had been asked to share hotel rooms with male staffers they did not know. Others alleged that they had found out that female staffers were paid "thousands of dollars less" than the men they worked alongside. Elite Daily reached out to representatives of Sanders for comment on the allegations, but did not immediately hear back.
Though he represents Vermont as an Independent in the U.S. Senate, Sanders was a contender in the 2016 Democratic party, which he ultimately lost to Hillary Clinton. So far, Sanders hasn't officially announced any plans to run in the 2020 presidential election, but his name has been featured on a number of Democratic polls about possible contenders to run. According to a Jan. 1 report from The Hill, Sanders was included as number two in a top 10 Democrats for 2020 list, which included other impressive names such as former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, Vice President Joe Biden, California Sen. Kamala Harris, and others.
Despite the momentum driving Sanders into a possible 2020 presidential campaign, these allegations could severely impact whether he runs, and how successful the run will be. According to The New York Times, claims of sexism and sexual harassment were a reoccurring problem throughout the Sanders' campaign trail. In addition, the Times reported that one female staffer found out that some female staff members made "thousands of dollars less than" the male staff members. Elite Daily reached out to Sanders' press team for comment about the allegations, but did not hear back in time for publication.
So far, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and and President Barack Obama's former housing and urban development secretary Julian Castro have both launched exploratory committees, the first step to making a bid in the 2020 presidential election. However, there's a good chance we'll be seeing a slew of other Democratic nominees announcing their bid very soon.
It's only three days into 2019, and already, the heat is on. I'll see all of you at the polls.