Hil­lary Clin­ton

Jamaica Gleaner - - ENTERTAINMENT -

AS THE cam­paign to elect the next pres­i­dent of the United States (US) draws to a close, due to the dis­or­dered na­ture of this race, a key mo­ment has es­caped many com­men­ta­tors – that is, a woman for the first time is on the bal­lot for a ma­jor po­lit­i­cal party in the US to oc­cupy the White House.

Although women were first granted the right to vote in the US, via the rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the 19th Amend­ment to the Con­sti­tu­tion, on Au­gust 18, 1920, and widely called ‘women suf­frage’, the big par­ties, be­fore 2016, have al­ways ig­nored fe­male pres­i­den­tial hope­fuls.

And while one awaits the pres­i­dency of Hil­lary Clin­ton, credit must be given to the early pi­o­neers who, against the odds, showed that fe­male lead­er­ship was a quest that could be pur­sued, as the right to vote by women and mi­nori­ties had to be vig­or­ously fought.

It should not be for­got­ten that Vic­to­ria Wood­hull pi­o­neered the way for women to stand in pres­i­den­tial elec­tions. She cham­pi­oned the cause for women to have rights to vote un­der the Priv­i­leges and Im­mu­ni­ties Clause of the US Con­sti­tu­tion. This po­si­tion she starkly de­fended be­fore the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee in 1871, but the Supreme Court ruled against her in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the Con­sti­tu­tion.

FIRST WOMAN TO CON­TEST FOR PRES­I­DENCY

In the 1872 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, Wood­hull, rep­re­sent­ing the Equal Rights Party, with Fredrick Dou­glas as her run­ning mate, was the first woman to con­test for the pres­i­dency. Though she and other women were not legally per­mit­ted to vote, she re­ceived 26 votes. Women who turned up to the polls to vote for par­ties of their choice in the 1872 elec­tion were ar­rested.

After Wood­hull, then came an­other woman, in 1884, Belva Lock­wood, from the Na­tional Equal Rights Party, who also sought to be­come US pres­i­dent. She got 4,149 votes.

While Wood­hull failed with the votes, and Lock­wood gained, the mis­sion con­tin­ued with Gracie Allen who rep­re­sented the Sur­prise Party, in 1940, with 42,000 votes. The 1952 and 1968 elec­tions had two fe­male can­di­dates, who did not fac­tor, but in the 1972 elec­tion, Linda Jen­ness ran for the So­cial­ist Work­ers Party, and polled 83,380 votes. The revo­lu­tion was to be ig­nited in 1972 when Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress, an­nounced her bid for the pres­i­dency un­der the Demo­cratic Party. Vic­to­ria Wood­hull pi­o­neered the way for women to stand in pres­i­den­tial elec­tions. In the 1872 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, Wood­hull, rep­re­sent­ing the Equal Rights Party, with Fredrick Dou­glas as her run­ning mate, was the first woman to con­test for the pres­i­dency.

Of note, too, is Mar­garet Chase Smith, who in 1964 was the first to run for a ma­jor party, the Repub­li­can, and got more than one vote. She re­ceived 27 votes.

FIRST BLACK WOMAN

The revo­lu­tion was to be ig­nited in 1972 when Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress, an­nounced her bid for the pres­i­dency un­der the Demo­cratic Party – the first black can­di­date for any party in the US and first woman to seek nom­i­na­tion for the Democrats. She was also an am­bas­sador-des­ig­nate to Ja­maica un­der Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton, but had to de­cline the nom­i­na­tion due to ill health.

With the ex­cep­tion of the 1984 vice-pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tions of Geral­dine Fer­raro, for the Demo­cratic Party, and that of Sarah Palin for the 2008 elec­tion, no other fe­male politi­cian has dom­i­nated the US po­lit­i­cal land­scape as the ca­reer lawyer and for­mer first lady, Hil­lary Clin­ton.

In 2008, though she nar­rowly lost the nom­i­na­tion to Barack Obama to rep­re­sent the Demo­cratic Party, she is the only woman to be listed at that level in US po­lit­i­cal his­tory. Never to be down for long, the com­mu­nity ac­tivist, for­mer sen­a­tor and sec­re­tary of state con­tin­ues her po­lit­i­cal dom­i­nance, and de­spite the many hur­dles, she re­mains ahead of her ri­val, to be the next pres­i­dent of the great­est su­per­power in the world.

On the night of Novem­ber 8, 2016, the United States will fi­nally join 54 other coun­tries on six con­ti­nents that have, in the past cen­tury, elected fe­male po­lit­i­cal lead­ers, pres­i­dents and pre­miers. Sri Lanka, then known as Cey­lon, in 1960, led in the revo­lu­tion, when Sir­i­mavo Ban­daranaike be­came prime min­is­ter.

The coun­tries to fol­low are: Ar­gentina, when it elected the first fe­male pres­i­dent of a coun­try, in the per­son of Is­abel Peron; and Is­rael in 1969 elected Golda Meir as prime min­is­ter. In the mix too are Bangladesh, Fin­land, Lithua­nia, Malta, New Zealand, Nor­way, the Philip­pines, Poland, Slo­vakia, the United King­dom, Do­minica, Turkey, In­dia, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, and Ja­maica.

With his­tory in the mak­ing, the US is still not rev­o­lu­tion­ary in elect­ing women to its na­tional leg­is­la­tures. It is ranked by the In­ter-Par­lia­men­tary Union at 96 out of 193 coun­tries. Less than 20 per cent of their rep­re­sen­ta­tives in the Se­nate and House are women.

While in some coun­tries women earned their right to con­test elec­tions, so pre­car­i­ous the is­sue has been for decades that the quota sys­tem has had to be re­lied on to get fe­males elected, and world­wide, the ar­gu­ment is con­stant that women never al­ways sup­port other women.

Pres­i­dent Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton will have a lot to change over the next eight years.

In 2008, though she nar­rowly lost the nom­i­na­tion to Barack Obama to rep­re­sent the Demo­cratic Party, she is the only woman to be listed at that level in US po­lit­i­cal his­tory.

While one awaits the pres­i­dency of Hil­lary Clin­ton, credit must be given to the early pi­o­neers who, against the odds, showed that fe­male lead­er­ship was a quest that could be pur­sued, as the right to vote by women and mi­nori­ties had to be vig­or­ously fought.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Jamaica

© PressReader. All rights reserved.