Clin­ton could end very long wait for women

Kuwait Times - - ANALYSIS -

Estelle Liebow Schultz, who is 98, was born be­fore her fel­low coun­try­women had the right to vote. Now she has proudly cast a bal­lot for the can­di­date she hopes will make his­tory as the first Amer­i­can woman elected pres­i­dent. Hil­lary Clin­ton hopes to be­come that woman to­mor­row, break­ing the ul­ti­mate glass ceil­ing af­ter hav­ing be­come, at the Demo­cratic nom­i­nat­ing con­ven­tion in July, the first fe­male can­di­date for a ma­jor party.

Schultz was born in June 1918, two years be­fore Amer­i­can women gained the vote with the rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the 19th Amend­ment. “To see such an ac­com­plish­ment in my life­time is mo­men­tous,” said the re­tired teacher, who lives in the Wash­ing­ton sub­urb of Rockville, Mary­land. Hav­ing cast an early vote - as sev­eral states per­mit she hopes to see the inau­gu­ra­tion in Jan­uary of the first woman pres­i­dent, fol­low­ing the suc­ces­sion of 44 men that be­gan with Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton in 1789.

It has been a long road, start­ing with the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign in 1872 of Vic­to­ria Wood­hull - who at 34 was tech­ni­cally a year too young to be­come pres­i­dent - as can­di­date of the Equal Rights Party. His­tory books list the vote to­tals won by her male ri­vals, but not hers. Bri­tain, Ger­many, Croa­tia, Nor­way, Chile and South Korea have women lead­ers; Is­rael, Brazil, Ar­gentina and Pak­istan have been led by women. “We are very late com­pared to many other coun­tries around the world,” said Jeanne Zaino, a po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist at Iona Col­lege in New York.

Only two women have made it onto ma­jor party pres­i­den­tial tick­ets: Repub­li­can Sarah Palin, who was John McCain’s run­ning mate in 2008, and Geral­dine Fer­raro, who joined Wal­ter Mon­dale on the Demo­cratic ticket in 1984. Both lost. Some women failed to sur­vive the bru­tal pri­mary elec­tion process, chewed up by the big par­ties’ po­lit­i­cal ma­chines. Oth­ers be­came his­tor­i­cal foot­notes in the quixotic cam­paigns of splin­ter par­ties. “When you don’t sup­port women in a struc­tural way, you have fewer women who can rise to the top, in pol­i­tics and other are­nas,” Zaino said.

Par­lia­men­tary or mul­ti­party sys­tems are more fa­vor­able to women, push­ing par­ties to es­tab­lish di­verse lists of can­di­dates, which helps women climb within a party to top lead­er­ship po­si­tions, said Robert Shapiro, a po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist with Columbia Univer­sity in New York. Can­di­date Clin­ton has some­times pre­sented her­self as a mother or a grand­mother, but the 69-year-old has used the “woman card” spar­ingly, in­tent on be­ing judged first for her com­pe­tence and ex­pe­ri­ence.

‘Lock Her Up’

At the same time, her Repub­li­can op­po­nent Don­ald Trump has not hes­i­tated to draw on stereo­types of women, de­scrib­ing the for­mer first lady, New York se­na­tor and sec­re­tary of state as weak and lack­ing stamina. Whether out of misog­yny, par­ti­san ha­tred or some com­bi­na­tion of the two, sup­port­ers of the Repub­li­can reg­u­larly break into chants of “lock her up” when­ever Trump de­scribes her as cor­rupt. “Hil­lary Clin­ton is con­sis­tently treated dif­fer­ently than just about any other can­di­date I see out there,” Pres­i­dent Barack Obama said re­cently dur­ing a rally in Colum­bus, Ohio. Ad­dress­ing him­self to men in the au­di­ence, he asked them to “kind of look in­side your­self and ask your­self if you’re hav­ing prob­lems” with Clin­ton’s can­di­dacy be­cause she is a woman. “How much of it is that we’re just not used to it?” he asked. “I’m proud to be a woman run­ning for pres­i­dent,” Clin­ton re­cently told a New York ra­dio host. “I’d be just in­cred­i­bly hum­bled and hon­ored to be the first woman pres­i­dent.. .But I have a lot of work I want to do. And I hope that peo­ple will say, ‘Hey, she’s get­ting it done.’” The idea of elect­ing the na­tion’s first woman pres­i­dent has gen­er­ated less ex­cite­ment than the elec­tion eight years ago of Obama as the first African Amer­i­can pres­i­dent. Roughly half of Amer­i­cans in a re­cent sur­vey said they would have pre­ferred that his­tory be made by some­one other than Clin­ton, whose pop­u­lar­ity rat­ings are low. But if she is elected, “there will be many tearful faces,” Shapiro pre­dicted. “Be­fore I die, by God, I want to have a woman pres­i­dent. Yes, it’s very im­por­tant,” 64-year-old lawyer Moira Hahn told AFP. It would be “won­der­ful,” said Nancy Mur­phy, 58, a re­tired teacher, while wor­ry­ing aloud: “I don’t know how a lot of the na­tion will feel about that.” If elected, Clin­ton hopes to cel­e­brate in New York’s Ja­cob K Jav­its Con­ven­tion Cen­ter - a glass-en­closed build­ing on the banks of the Hud­son River. It would be a sly wink to the “glass ceil­ing” she would be break­ing on that mo­men­tous day.

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