Even though a female veep candidate is so 1984, I’m excited by the prospect of having a woman a heartbeat away from the Oval Office. Not quite excited enough to vote for John McCain, but excited nonetheless.
For some of us who were saddened by Hillary Clinton’s loss, it’s not that Hillary was all that, though she was a perfectly good candidate and would’ve made a competent president. It’s gender, stupid.
Many people here and elsewhere thought I shouldn’t care about a candidate’s gender. Shame on you, they told me. But obviously citizens have been caring about presidential gender for all of our nation’s history, so why am I getting dinged for it?
A female president would immediately change the political landscape in the most visible possible way. And with it, the “ambition gap” would begin to narrow.
Women do just as well as men in elections, when they run. But not many do, and they tend to restrict their efforts to local and state level politics. Only 16% of our nation’s Senators are female. Similarly, 16% of the House is female. And Governors? You guessed it: 16%.
Why are women so reluctant to run for office? The reasons are clear enough. Unequal child care responsibilities is a big one. The lack of role models is another. A female President makes one whopping role model for a bright young woman looking to make a mark.
And here’s the thing, folks. As long as “women’s issues” are a marginalized special interest, they will NEVER be satisfactorily addressed. When women have equal representation, when women hold half the power positions, women’s issues will not be women’s issues anymore, they will be everyone’s issues.
What makes Clinton’s defeat devastating is that there’s no one on deck. 16 female Senators, eight female Governors… a grand total of 24 women who could possibly be considered credible candidates for President. If you take Clinton out of the running there’s 23. Not one of them has the national prominence to get anywhere.
Except, now, Sarah Palin.
If you’ve been here before and you’ve been reading the news today, you know that Sarah’s political views don’t match mine. Indeed the media has been screaming about her “pro-life” sentiments all day.
Side rant: Every reporter who mentions Palin’s views points out that she “proved” her pro-life stance by giving birth to a baby with Down Syndrome. The implication being that any pro-choice woman would abort a fetus with DS in a second. This is not true. Speaking as a steadfastly pro-choice woman, I would not have done so. I wanted children, I love my children, and I would’ve wanted and loved them just as much if they had DS. Pro-choice doesn’t mean “pro-abortion as often as possible.” It means “this gut-wrenching decision is not yours to make for someone else.” End side rant.
So, sorry Sarah, I can’t vote for you, but I’m glad you’re on the ticket. You gave me a little bit of hope today.