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Read an interesting article on some gender related polling data this morning. Then, just now, PaulaX's diary "take the "men only" sign off the white house door!".

As a feminist white male I have long supported the idear of a Democratic Female Presidential Candidate. With the early talk of Hillary Clinton I thought perhaps that time and that serious candidate had come.

Of course, in the meantime, Sen. Clinton has become as controversial amongst some Democrats as she is amongst many Republicans. At the same time, the need to defeat the Republicans has become so overriding that the idear of advancing particular causes has faded into the background.

But this article and the data it contains...

... has gotten me thinking once again about things that are important. It is important that we break down barriers. It is important that we elect a capable and competent woman to the highest offices in the land. It is important that we elect a capable and competent minority to the highest offices in the land (capable and competent being the words that exclude Rice).

The article:

Gender becomes less of an issue to voters  

By ERIN DUGGAN, Capitol bureau
First published: Monday, February 21, 2005

ALBANY -- A majority of Americans say the country is ready to elect a woman as president in 2008, and even more said they would vote for one.

Her portrait, painted by 1,125 registered voters in a nationwide Hearst Newspapers/Siena College Poll, is this: She's likely a Democrat and is at least as capable as a man on foreign policy. She's stronger on health care and education, but somewhat weaker as commander in chief of the military.
The front-runner today -- almost four years from Election Day -- is Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., one of four prominent female politicians whom respondents were offered as potential candidates. Clinton was encouraged to run in 2008 by 53 percent of those polled, including half the men and 26 percent of the Republicans.

Following Clinton was newly appointed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who first captured the national spotlight as President Bush's national security adviser. Forty-two percent of respondents said she should run in 2008, including 30 percent of Democrats.

Although only 49 percent of Republicans said the United States will be ready for a female president in 2008, 58 percent said they would vote for Rice. Rice, however, had almost as many people saying she should not run -- 41 percent, compared with 42 percent. Clinton had 37 percent saying not to run. "In my ideal world in 2008, we would have two or three women at least on both sides of the aisle running, so it became less about their gender and more about what agendas they bring to the job," said Marie C. Wilson, president of The White House Project, a nonprofit New York City-based group whose goal is to get more women running for and winning elected office, including the White House.


Some voters still can't picture a female commander in chief. More than one-fifth said a woman would do a worse job than a man, although almost as many said she would be better and 45 percent said there would be no difference.

When asked about domestic issues like education and health care, people from both parties agreed a female president would be better (81 percent of Democrats and 53 percent of Republicans). A smaller margin of voters also said a woman would be more deft at handling foreign policy.

Having women in high-level national positions should help the electorate see women as leaders, Wilson said.

Her portrait:

A Democrat
As capable as a man on foreign policy
Stronger on health care
Stronger on education
Weaker ("somewhat") as Commander in Chief

Not surprisingly Hillary Clinton is the front runner of possible female candidates in 2008. Interestingly she is encouraged to run by over half those polled including half of the men and a quarter of the Republicans.

Speaking of Republicans a bare minority, 49% said that the country would be ready in 2008.

20% said a woman would be worse at Commander in Chief while 20% said she would be better and 45 said no difference. A very interesting spread there that says to me that this country is indeed ready for a female President.

On domestic issues we are really ready. 81% of Democrats and even 53% of Republicans said Mom... umm... a woman would be better at education and health care.

And finally, a small margin (unspecified) said a woman would be "more deft" at foreign policy. I'm guess this means we think that a woman would try to think through and work through problems before blowing sh... er... stuff... up.

This is an extremely positive report. We are ready. The time has come. A couple of interesting statements by Marie Wilson stating that she wants to see several women running so that gender becomes even less of an issue... an excellent game plan in my view. Also, the astute observation that "Having women in high-level national positions should help the electorate see women as leaders." This applies to minorities as well.

Certainly the Bush administrations use of various women and minorities in their administration has been a cynical attempt to steal traditional Democratic constituencies, but at the same time they really have advanced the cause of women and minorities by making it more commonplace for them to be in positions of power. They have helped us to open doors for a wider range of Democratic Candidates and appointees to advance to the highest levels of government.

Change is a slow process ad often comes one incremental step at a time but it is also an inexorable process. This is true of civil rights in all its forms... and I am thinking of the civil rights of the LGBT minority community here as well.

Should we support Sen. Hillary Clinton for President in 2008? I don't know. I don't advocate any particular candidate at this point. We have local elections to win and a new DNC Chair to support in remaking the party so that our candidate(s) in 2005, 6, 7, and 2008 are the best quality and best prepared ones that they can be... for any and all offices.

All I ask is that we not dismiss any candidate out of hand, out of pavlovian reaction to the regressive party noise machine, or out of what we perceive as untrue motives and a loss of party ideological purity. I don't advocate backing a Democrat simply because there is a D next to their name but I submit that politicians often have to make compromises and take actions simply to be able to be effective elsewhere. It is part and parcel of politics. Always has been, always will be.

Using this data and Hillary Clinton as an example... can anyone wonder why she may make votes, statements or take stands that shore up her reputation as tough enough to be Commander in Chief? Democrats are already tagged as weak on defense. Women can't possibly be tough enough to command the respect and loyalty of of hardened Generals and Master Sargents.

I want to see a woman in the White House. I want to see a House and Senate that is 50% female. I want to see African Americans with an appropriate share of political power as well as other minorities. I want to see an American in which the question of black, white, male, female, homosexual or heterosexual is not even part of the discussion anymore.

I want to know if the person is competent. I want to know if they care about the values that have made America such a beacon of hope in the world all these years. I want to know if they are in public service because they believe in serving the public. I want to know if they understand the problems average people face and have a plan for solving those problems. I want to know if they are intelligent enough to figure things out, quick enough on their feet to adjust to an every changing environment, visionary enough to understand long term impacts and set proper actions in motion. I want to know that they have the personal humility to understand their own weaknesses and surround themselves with people of these same qualities and abilities.

So Ladies and Gentlemen, run for office. Take seats on your local party committees. Get involved in every aspect of the political process in this country. Understand what your own strengths are and find the place to let them flourish. It is up to us to make this happen. Women and men together, black and white and other together.

We can kick the regressives rear-ends and promote our own goals at the same time. There is nothing that can stop us... except us.

Update: "The poll, conducted from Feb. 10-16 by Siena Research Institute, was done in anticipation of Siena's upcoming "First Woman President" Symposium on March 4-5. The event will draw academics, political activists and others from around the nation to talk about the issue of women in political leadership." Information and registration for this Symposium can be found at the Siena College web site.

Originally posted to Andrew C White on Mon Feb 21, 2005 at 07:41 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I want to see (none)
    a woman in the White House someday. But I won't support Hillary Clinton just because she's female. I don't believe in applying Affirmative Action to the search for a president.

    by Noisy Democrat on Mon Feb 21, 2005 at 07:40:12 PM PST

    •  But are you open to... (none)
      ... the possibility of her being President? How much do you know about the totality of her record?

      And why not apply affirmative action principles to the search for President?

      Give me a qualified man and a qualified woman and all things being equal today I will vote for the woman just to break down that barrier. It needs breaking down.

      I would never advocate voting for someone just because they are this or they are that. But it is a factor for me and I believe it should be a factor for those of us that believe in equal rights under the law. The majority of our population does not have equal rights today. This is something that needs correcting and the sooner the better.

      "We have the power. Sorry if you don't like the fact that we've decided to use it." Posted by Jeremey*in*MS at February 3, 2005 01:59 PM

      by Andrew C White on Mon Feb 21, 2005 at 07:48:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The choice of a presidential candidate (none)
        isn't just a matter of finding one who's qualified, so no, I'm not going to just look at who's qualified and then add 10 points for sex. It's also a question of who moves and inspires you, who gives you a sense of hope for the future of the country -- all those intangibles. The Clintons (both of them) so far just don't do that for me. Kerry does, Gore does, Edwards does; if Hillary has it in her to be inspiring, I'll acknowledge it when I see it. Till then, no, I'm going to support the candidates I feel strongly about, not the ones who fit a certain demographic.

        But of course, I'll support whichever Dem gets the nomination.

        by Noisy Democrat on Mon Feb 21, 2005 at 08:18:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, as I said... (none)
          ... I'm not saying any of this to push Sen. Clinton or any particular candidate. The fact is that she is the leading female candidate so it makes sense to talk about her in this context.

          All things being equal I can think of a few people that I would prefer at this point in time. But I remain open minded on the subject.

          My two main points here are the sudden reemergence of the thought that finding a qualified, capable, competent... and yes, inspiring... female or minority candidate is an important thing and one I support and advocate strongly. I am of the belief that opening up that door will indeed have a huge postive impact on many of the problems this nation faces in its political process.

          And... that I think one must take into account the currently enormous additional hurdles a female candidate must go through in order to be considered. I am encouraged by the polling data that shows those hurdles are not insurmountable but at the same time believe they show some of the reasons why a person like Sen. Clinton or perhaps a Rep. Nancy Pelosi or others take actions that we find inexplicable in light of the rest of their sterling records.

          "We have the power. Sorry if you don't like the fact that we've decided to use it." Posted by Jeremey*in*MS at February 3, 2005 01:59 PM

          by Andrew C White on Mon Feb 21, 2005 at 08:29:22 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Whoa, there. (none)
    Honestly, I pretty much ignore the race and sex of the candidate.  I won't say, vote for this person; she's female.  It makes no sense.  I want the best person for the job.
  •  I think she deserves a fair shake (none)
    I'm not crazy about HRC's politics, but I think she has earned a shot at the nomination - if for no other reason then b/c she had to put up with him to get this far (sorry couldn't quite suppress that ;-)). And here's another thought - she's very smart and one heck of a tough cookie. I actually believe that a tough woman can be a very difficult target for the right - and Hillary has already demonstrated that she can beat 'em (yeah in NY, but she actually manage to hold her ground Upstate, and that's a pretty conservative place).  

    If you cannot convince them, confuse them. Harry S. Truman

    by brainwave on Mon Feb 21, 2005 at 08:03:42 PM PST

  •  i'd much rather see (none)
    a president boxer than a president clinton. that said, i'm pretty open to any candidate with a (d) after their name and a fire in their belly.
  •  That definition sounds (none)
    like a picture of Jane Harman from CA... Personally I would like to see Governor Sebelius or Blanco and Senator Lincoln would be a great choice as well.

    "Religion's in the hands of some crazy ass people..." Jimmy Buffett

    by Show Me Dem on Mon Feb 21, 2005 at 08:43:58 PM PST

  •  CJ for President (none)
    I think the electorate is ready for the right woman, or the right non-white-guy. But it will have to be the right person, in particular with strong charisma. I don't see any women with the charisma and the experience to pull off a win in 2008.

    Even strong women have various problems to overcome that most men don't - nanny issues, finances that are tied to another high-flying high profile adult, that damned if you do or don't with whatever you did with your kids.

    Plus, women are just plain smarter than men. And you pretty much have to be crazy to want the job. :-)

  •  Priority of Barriers (none)
    It is important that we break down barriers.

    Get this and get it straight, people.

    We spent 30 years pissing every least opportunity we will have for the rest of our lives to fuss over nuanced, trivial issues such as the rights of half the citizenry.

    We sat out almost two generations as the darkest forces among us dismantled, captured or rebuilt almost every major structure of our society. Their purpose is to render enlightened society and popular governance structurally impossible as far ahead as any of us can see.

    And now when one tiny cell of our comatose body twitches "what I want to know" out loud, we suddenly think we're half a dozen punches away from the Title.

    These people are taking over the world. They own the economy, they own the scholars, they own the priests, they own the generals, they own the food, they own the energy, they own the labor, they own the culture, and they own the news. And they're mad as hell about their suffering and they're not going to tolerate being oppressed any longer.

    The only barrier we have the choice to break down is their barrier to enlightened civilization. The alternative is that every last thing we stand for is wiped off the scene for the rest of our lives.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Feb 21, 2005 at 09:47:54 PM PST

    •  Scarey isn't it... (none)
      "These people are taking over the world. They own the economy, they own the scholars, they own the priests, they own the generals, they own the food, they own the energy, they own the labor, they own the culture, and they own the news. And they're mad as hell about their suffering and they're not going to tolerate being oppressed any longer."

      They are not quite there yet but they are close. We woke up day and began to see that the world we thought we lived in had been stood on its head.

      It is the culture part that they haven't quite managed to get yet. Too close for comfort but not quite there. They have the veneer but not the meat. That part takes time. Most of us have grown up in a "liberal" culture the last 40 years. There are "liberal" values we take for granted as a society. Social Security is perhaps the prime example. We must defeat them here. And think this is reflected in this polling data. Even men and Republicans think we are just about ready for a female President. I'll bet a similar poll would show surprisingly favorable numbers for a nameless, faceless African-American.

      These are deep cultural values that have changed. As have views of homosexuality. There are loud and influential minorities that scream bloody murder about these things but most of us are increasingly at ease.

      But the cultural seachange must be stopped here.

      Else all these gains of the last 40 or so years will begin to be reversed. It is not too late... but it is getting awfully close.

      We must stop them here.

      "We have the power. Sorry if you don't like the fact that we've decided to use it." Posted by Jeremey*in*MS at February 3, 2005 01:59 PM

      by Andrew C White on Mon Feb 21, 2005 at 10:16:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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