Are WE ready ? All other Nations have had women in charge in the Past , but can America Really Change?
With the tone and substance of national policy in the United States in a seemingly bottomless downward spiral, threatening both the peace of the world and the freedom of Americans, it may be fair to ask, why talk about a woman running for president? When will a woman run for president? When this question is posed in op-ed opinion pieces, the answer frequently offered is something along the lines of "when one decides to run." A very reassuring bromide that injects "choice," that most pliable word of American corporate-speak, into the discussion. The treatment of Hillary Clinton set a standard of viciousness no other society on earth, claiming to be civilized, could match. An intelligent and independent-minded woman was harassed and insulted for eight long years simply because she was intelligent and independent-minded. Undoubtedly, it all served as an effective warning that the Barbara Bush image, the smiling granny serving cookies and milk while overseeing ghost-written books about her dog Fluffy is the preferred one for the White House.
In a very real sense, Elizabeth Dole, and Sarah Palin who did make a weak attempt at the Republican nomination, despite the benefit of a syrupy Southern accent, was never a serious candidate. Comments on Ms. Dole's abilities, reported in the mainstream press, included her skill at descending from a podium and the fact that her shoes coordinated with décor. The strong, lingering smell of anti-feminism in America, kept alive by people who believe we should be guided by principles that predate the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, certainly helps explain why the most capable women don't run. Christine Whitman, former governor of New Jersey, is an outstanding example, now safely tucked into a lesser cabinet post (lesser as far as the Bush Boys are concerned - after all, what's the environment but a name for a photo-op?) where she is free to say virtually nothing - a very dynamic governor, whether you agree with all her policies or not, reduced to a cipher.
Perhaps, "can't run" is the more appropriate expression, since money, steam-shovels full of it, from private sources drives the entire American political engine. George Bush provided the definitive proof that a candidate most people never heard of and who had never taken any interest in national policy can win, provided only he started his journey through the primary campaigns with $70 million stuffed in his pockets and received frequent top-ups as he glutted the airwaves with numbing pictures of vacuous benignity. The sources of this money still do not see fit to trust women with command over resources in business, so it is not surprising they do not trust them with command over resources in politics.
The party system is also at fault here. Despite the countless chamber-of-commerce testimonials we hear about free enterprise in America, it doesn't seem to have occurred to anyone to institute it into politics. We have a virtual monopoly situation (actually, what economists call a duopoly) with two parties using countless dodges, gimmicks, and unfair rules to keep out competitors. Just a little room is left around the edges of all the high barriers to entry so that some suggestion of a free market is maintained, much the way small independent bottlers of soda receive a few square feet out of an entire aisle dedicated to Coke and Pepsi products in a supermarket. The restrictions against a third-party candidate's even getting on the ballots of all fifty states would fill a book.
Methods of national debate also are part of the problem. So long as argumentative nonsense is regarded as debate, an immature and intellectually-dull national politics will continue. Negative advertising is only a small part of this phenomenon. Many talented people are repulsed at entering a contest where lung-power and attitudes play a far greater role than ideas or wisdom. This was certainly the case for General Powell, and I suspect former Governor Whitman. One could make a joke about this form of debate appealing more to hormone-driven males than thoughtful women, but in fact it does not appeal to the thoughtful of either sex. Yet it dominates American politics, just as dominates the airwaves with public affairs programs that don't inform.
Change in the way America does the business of politics offers the best chance for escape from the intellectual and moral sinkhole represented by the Bush administration. Such change would bring more excellent people forward, and I have no doubt that at least half of them would be women. And America would take a big step forward in its promise to be a democratic society, rather than one run by money with a semblance of democratic institutions. But in saying these things, I fear I may be pointing towards solutions whose very impossibility now leaves a sense of a settled and depressing fate.