Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Women and the Presidency

I regularly read and hear women, especially women over 50 bemoan the ending of Hillary Clinton's campaign for presidency. I think one of the reasons she has been able to sustain her campaign is that there is a legion of women who won't let go of the dream of a woman as president. Many apparently fear that if Hillary can't do it, no one can -- read this article by Dahlia Lithwick in Slate: One-Hit Wondering, for some thoughts on this issue.
As a white man, I obviously am in a different position than women or minorities. White males like me -- even ones with beards -- have been running this country from day one. If John McCain wins in November, that chain will remain unbroken. But this year we have seen two people, one a white woman and the other a black man end up as the final two candidates for the Democratic nomination. So, either way come November the Democrats will offer America a unique opportunity.
As for the question whether this is a once in a life time opportunity for women, sells women short. Obviously Hillary Clinton had certain advantages few candidates have. Only the Kennedy or the Bush name is as well known in America as the Clinton one. Indeed, you can say that one reason why Hillary won so big in places like West Virginia and Kentucky, and might win in Puerto Rico is the power of name recognition. Barack Obama remains unknown to a lot of people. Consider that a huge swath of Americans still think he's a Muslim. Yes, Hillary had advantages other women might not have, but let's not sell women short.
There is a growing number of women in Politics -- in both parties -- who are ripe for political advancement. They serve as governors and senators, and leaders of industry. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas and Janet Napolitono of Arizona, just to name two. I'm supporting Barack Obama, not because he's a man, but because he offers us an opportunity to move into the 21st century with a new vision. With all her strengths, Clinton has significant baggage, the largest of which is probably her husband. Bill Clinton has been both a benefit and a detriment to her. In the end, I think he has proven to be more a hindrance to her candidacy than a benefit.
That being said, the likelihood that it will be another generation before a woman can run again, seems odd to me. Yes, sexism will have to be addressed. And there is sexist bias in this country. There is also racial bias in this country. So, both candidates have had to deal with this issue. In fact, John McCain has to deal with bias against older people. So maybe bias is a wash in this contest.
As for women, look around, note the rising stars. Encourage them, support them. But don't blame Barack Obama for Hillary's demise. He simply ran a better campaign. Hopefully, he'll win in November -- the first for a person of color. As for women, let's keep the dream alive, because I think the time will be sooner than later.

1 comment:

steph said...

I don't know any women here, who care about American politics like me, who like Hilary. Not because she's a woman but because she's stupid. In fact all the women I know who care about American politics like me, would be voting for Barack.