I didn’t start out as a Hillary Clinton supporter.
John and Elizabeth Edwards were my presidential couple of choice. In fact, when it became clear, lo’ those many years ago, that Hillary was crafting her White House strategy I said to anyone who would listen that she would never be able to be elected — partly because of her Clinton “baggage” and partly because I didn’t think this country was ready yet for a woman president.
Uttering those words felt like feminist treason.
Many have argued that such a notion is nonsense, After all, plenty of other countries have had women leaders, so surely it was time for the US to join those ranks.
But America lags in so many things that benefit women — reproductive rights, numbers of women involved in government (we’re behind plenty of countries, including the United Arab Emirates and Argentina just to name two), and maternity leave benefits– that I doubted whether we as a country possessed the basic amount of respect toward women that would be needed to put one in charge of the whole country. If lawmakers won’t acknowledge women’s value to our economy or that certain rights should be permitted under the law, how can we be at a place where voters can see one pulling up with the moving van to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?
When the Supreme Court pronounces that women are incapable of making decisions about their own reproductive rights, saying that their decision in Gonzalez v. Carhart was for “[women's] own good,” what hope is there that our country is in a mental place where it can imagine someone who wears skirts (or pantsuits) making decisions about everyone?
Sure, we’ve come a moderate way, baby, but not far enough to take that last step.
I wanted to be wrong. I really did. So when John Edwards dropped out of the race, I decided to support Hillary over Obama, in large part, because her health care plan was essentially the same as Edwards’ — real coverage for everyone — whereas, Barack Obama’s is not. Yes, it’s WAY better than what the Republicans want, but it’s still not health care for everyone.
I also became the teensiest bit excited about the possibility of being able to show my second-grade daughter in November that girls really could be anything, and thought it would be special to make plans with her to watch as Hillary took the oath of office as the first woman President of the United States.
Clinton is in campaign shut-down mode and I’m a bit depressed. Not because I thought she was the best candidate to be our next president, but because of what it says about our country and its views on women and how much longer that road is than I had thought.
We’re not ready for a woman president. So if not now, when?
Given the treatment Hillary has received as a candidate, I fear it will be a long time before another woman is ready to subject herself — and her family – to the meat grinder of American presidential politics.