Explaining the Outrage Against the Chair of the DNC - Pacific Standard

Explaining the Outrage Against the Chair of the DNC

One tendentious comment has left many calling for Debbie Wasserman Schultz's resignation.
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Debbie Wasserman Schultz speaks at the DNC's Leadership Forum Issues Conference in Washington, D.C., on September 19, 2014. (Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

Debbie Wasserman Schultz speaks at the DNC's Leadership Forum Issues Conference in Washington, D.C., on September 19, 2014. (Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

On Wednesday, the New York Times published an interview with Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee. During the interview, Wasserman Schultz was asked about a generational divide in the party. Her answer sparked outrage, including calls for her resignation:

[New York Times:] Do you notice a difference between young women and women our age in their excitement about Hillary Clinton? Is there a generational divide?

[Schultz:] Here's what I see: a complacency among the generation of young women whose entire lives have been lived after Roe v. Wade was decided.

Shortly after the article was published, Erin Matson of the reproductive justice group Repo Action launched the hashtag #DearDebbie, which has since been tweeted over 1,500 times, including by NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood. Young women have taken to social media to chime in with stories of volunteering at clinics and attending protests.

Wasserman Schultz in turn defended herself over a series of six tweets:

The anger isn't just directed at Wasserman Schultz's dismissal of young women. Rather, the congresswoman is facing the same problem she has dealt with in the past: Voters think she favors Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders, which would violate her ostensibly unbiased role within the party. There's even a vocal contingent claiming the DNC deliberately scheduled fewer debates this election cycle as part of an effort to protect Clinton from the competition. In this light, Wasserman Schultz's comments might seem like a dig at young Democratic women who aren't planning on voting for Clinton.

Whatever Wasserman Schultz's concerns about Hillary's popularity among Millennials, it doesn't change the truth—in many states, there's nothing to be complacent about here. Reproductive rights are still under attack in the United States. As Pacific Standard's Kate Wheeling reported last year:

As many as 240,000 18- to 49-year-old women in Texas have attempted at-home abortions, according to survey data released this week from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project. ... Roughly two to four percent—which amounts to 100,000 to 240,000 women in the state—had either tried it themselves or knew a friend who had. Many used the drug Misoprostol; others used herbs, hormonal pills, or illicit drugs or alcohol; a few settled for being punched or hit in the abdomen.

If Wasserman Schultz really thinks there's a generational divide, it may be her responsibility to jump the gap.

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