We live in a very polarized society. It seems every issue, from health care reform,abortion, to what to have for dessert (CAKE, NOT PIE!!!), elicits so many diverse and heated opinions.It is tempting to try and shut it all out. Take it from a political science major who is also taking a biology class: Debate may keep a democracy healthy, but you can still die from taking too many vitamins. Yay for multiple subject learning!
Still there is one debate that, in the long term, is crucial to achieve. It is one that started at the outset of the last election and did not let up: Can a woman become President?
There are some demographics that are considered poisonous in national political contests. Mormonism, for example, is looked upon by many Americans with a skeptical eye(ask Mitt Romney). Up until recently, there were no serious African-American contenders – and no, Al Sharpton does not count. One could argue that there have not been many serious female contenders either. My memory of politics does not go way back, but I can think of two at the moment.
Remember when it was predicted the 2008 race would come down to a political subway series? Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani, that was what the pundits said. Believe it or not, not many people were thinking about that Obama guy. Then he won Iowa, and the momentum swing pulled him through. Some women despaired – when would it be their time to break the ultimate glass ceiling?
Then, out of nowhere, John McCain picked a little-known Alaska governor named Sarah Palin to be his running mate. Most observers assumed this was an attempt to capture disaffected Clinton voters, and indeed, they ran many advertisements(supposedly featuring Clinton supporters switching to McCain’s campaign rather than Obama’s).
The plan backfired. McCain and Palin lost, and the White House’s top two spots are occupied again by men. Hillary Clinton, however, got the post of Secretary of State, one which she has generally excelled in so far. They lost, many will argue, because not only did most Clinton supporters stay on the Democratic side, but many who might have jumped ship were turned off by Palin’s general lack of knowledge on economic and political matters.
Which leads me to my major point: Sarah Palin, still considered a potential candidate for the GOP nomination in 2012, has single-handedly set back the movement for a female president by…well, I am going to guesstimate a generation.
I would personally love to see a woman become president. The general stereotype is that men can whip you in a wrestling match, but women can school you in debates. Whether that stereotype is true, I can not say – I have a fear of both pain and debate clubs. I assume it is true. Would electing a woman mean we would not feel the need to invade everybody? Would it mean we would actually be able to rationally examine issues and maybe come up with sensible solutions? We can dream, can we not?
That is what irritates me about Palin. It is not that we are polar opposites when it comes to every issue out there. It is that she is a pretty face in an arena that requires so much more. Let us be honest: many Palin supporters only support her because they fantasize about being stranded with her and a busted snowmobile. I know, it is horrible – it is also probably true.
Thank God she is not going to win the highest office anytime soon. Polls consistently have majorities giving her unfavorable ratings. Outside of the Tea Party movement, her approval ratings drop faster than a wolf she sniped from a helicopter. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. I pray she runs in 2012 for that reason – even if the economy is still down, Obama will walk all over her.
But I feel so bad that we will not see a woman president anytime soon. Us dudes have had our chance, and I will grant that we have not always done great. And I would like to see how having a change in gender works. Now, thanks to a former beauty pageant contestant turned politician, it is going to take that much longer.