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...
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.
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.