How Long Will it Be Until the Next "Viable Woman Presidential Candidate?"

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.

But as someone who grew up in a rural community and who has lived in some fairly red areas, I had a bad feeling in my gut that America wasn’t ready.

It looks like I was right.

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.

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12 Responses to “How Long Will it Be Until the Next "Viable Woman Presidential Candidate?"”

  1. Lauren Says:

    I’m feeling glum about it, too.

    Many will say we are ready for a woman president…just not this woman. I’ll believe that when/if I ever see a woman take the oath of office.

  2. Backpacking Dad Says:

    I’m going with “eight years”, because Obama will be elected, re-elected, and in that time Hillary will become publicly reconciled with him. Then she won’t be carrying around Bill’s baggage, and she will have shed her own campaign’s baggage, and a D-controlled Congress and Oval Office will require less from her as a focus of opposition to the Republicans, so she can focus on doing good rather than fighting evil.

    Superheroes are usually solitary for good reason; they embarass the rest of us and we take it out on them.

  3. Jonathan Trenn Says:

    It will be four years. I predict John McCain will win in 2008 and Hillary will defeat him (or more likely, a new nominee) in 2012.

  4. Karoli Says:

    Well, there are two questions here. One is when there will be a viable woman candidate, and one is when there will be a viable Democratic party woman candidate.

    It may be likely that the Republicans are able to field the next woman candidate.

    To me, Hillary Clinton did not win the nomination because she did not prove herself as capable as Obama. However, there are other women in the political arena that I have great respect for, Democrat and Republican, and I believe your 2nd grader could easily see a female candidate that’s viable and electable as early as 2016.

    The question is whether she will be a Republican or a Democrat.

  5. Vivian M Says:

    I am still hoping for the dream ticket, regardless of “who’s on top”, because it’s the only way we can practically guarentee a democratic win in the presidential election.
    And if it does happen, then there just may be a chance in the next four years?

  6. anniegirl1138 Says:

    I have low hopes for ever seeing a woman as our president. Pundit Mom made excellent posts about the state of things in the U.S. in regards to how women and “our issues” (which are really not just ours, in my opinion) are viewed.

    Obama will probably not lose in November but it will be a long (ugly maybe) fight, despite the fact that McCain has already proved himself near-ignorant of just about anything domestic.

    It would be wonderful if Obama and Clinton could suck it up enough to run together but egos are involved, so my second choice is that he choose another female for his running mate – I am kinda doubting that he will though. I don’t think he is a much of a women’s candidate. He will make the wooing noises and in the end – disappoint us.

    I liked Edwards too. I liked him the last time and stll can’t believe they went with Kerry (wasn’t it the old “lack of experience thing” that did him in?)

  7. Daisy Says:

    I’m disappointed, too. I’ve cheered for Hillary since she sat down and told 60 minutes that she had bigger responsibilities than to “bake cookies and host teas.” Attorney General Clinton, anyone? I’d like to see her in a strong cabinet position.

  8. Greg Says:

    Er…you mispoke or, better yet, mistyped. It isn’t America who’s not ready for a female president, it’s Democrats. After all, these were Democrats who decided who to present as their nominee, not the nation at large.

    If Hillary were to have lost the general election, your general sentiment would still be wrong however it would have been more accurate.

  9. Richard Tibbitts Says:

    Actually, Hillary Clinton never has been presidential material. Though it’s true that women have faced discrimination in politics as well as in general, let’s be honest about this.

    You mention all the things she was subjected to…well, how about all the things she subjected other people to? Hillary Clinton proved herself to be unstable and unkind at every opportunity. Her being female does not excuse her indiscretions, sorry to say.

    Perhaps you should take off your gender-colored glasses in this case and admit that she is just a [expletive deleted]!

  10. Greg Says:

    A woman is okay now–but not one who disrespectfully lies to the public like we are ignorant, or who breaks into tears, or who hides behind her “family,” or who is bigoted towards blacks, or who runs on her sex (so who is a sexist?)

  11. Brian Says:

    I can’t speak for the rest of the country, but I can say, I’d be ready for a woman president, and if Hillary were the nominee, I’d’ve voted for her in November, but there are women I’d’ve rather seen in that position instead. Barbara Boxer, for one.

    As for the up-and-comers, I don’t know them well enough to guess who the next viable candidate might be. I do think it will be sooner than a lot of people think. I *don’t* think Hillary will run again, or if she does, I don’t think she’ll have the support she did this time around (Democratic losers haven’t succeeded recently at second attempts — Hart, Edwards, Biden, et al.)

    karoli might be right about the Republicans fielding the next viable woman, but mark my words, they’ll do it in 2012, when incumbent Barack Obama will be all but a shoo-in, and they’ll be doing it for the same reason Mondale put Ferraro on the ticket — to draw attention to a candidacy that loses on the day it begins.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    I don’t think HRC lost because she was a woman.

    But perhaps she could have won if she were able to play up what she offered to half of the constituency. As many noted, she had to hide her gender under a bushel. And her campaign promises offered a lot to women.

    The party has been so divided into his and hers.
    Many of her supporters are angry, and may turn away from the party and it’s goals. Putting her on the ticket is the first way to start healing the democratic party–and then maybe they can heal the bipartisanship in Washington.

    If Clinton become vice president, we will get used to seeing a woman close to real power, and perhaps one of the 16 women in the senate will start preparing for her rise to the national stage.

    amy cross
    women want answers. com

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