Thursday, January 15, 2015

2016 Presidential Elections Series: The Candidacy of Hillary Rodham Clinton - What Feminists Want?

Keywords or Terms: US Presidency; head-to-head match; institutional and political structure; Gender bias; feminist paradigm; leadership positions; Federalism; Hillary Rodham Clinton; Jeb Bush; Tom Cruz; Cris Christy; Mitt Romney; and, new organizational structure within government institutions.

This blog and the coming twenty-two months are about to test the hypothesis that male voters are less receptive of a female candidate if they lived in US Southern States than in the Mid-West or Northern States. The outcome of this exercise is likely to help Secretary Clinton evaluate her chances of winning the White House, once crowned the Democratic Nominee or flag bearer. There are some assumptions here: 1) that Hillary Rodham Clinton is running for the Presidency come, 2016; 2) there is not going to be a female candidate favorably valued as a Democratic Party flag bearer over Secretary Clinton; 3) that Hilary Rodham Clinton is a front-runner among the pack; and, 4) the Democratic Party is ready for a female flag bearer in national elections.

Could Ms. Clinton overcome gender bias, sexism or prejudices in a head-to-head matchup of a female to a male nominee in the Democratic Party? Could the female vote make the difference; or, could American Females change the course of history by flocking to Hillary Clinton’s candidacy? What could happen if certain rules were changed at the party level; or, if ingrained presumption of gender bias is factored out of the equation? Without reformed political institutions, is America ready for a female Presidency? Would the shifting sands of federalism hamper the chances of success of a female Presidency? These are all the questions and hypotheses to be tested in the coming twenty-two months as we move towards the 2016 national elections. Our discussions would be predictably refreshing and probably fascinatingly fluid. Our answers and discussions of these questions would form the basis of what may culminate as Essays in American Presidential Elections, 2016

Role Model or What?

To paraphrase the outgoing female Utah State House Speaker, Becky Lockhart, there is something to the visual, to actually see a female as a President. “There is something powerful to that, because other young female say, I can do that now because I’ve actually seen a female in that shoe or office.” How about the opinion of Jennifer Seelig, Utah House Democratic Leader: “Women in politics and business respond to images of other women in leadership positions and that is huge for Clinton to be the first Female President of the United States just as it was for Lockhart, as the first female Utah State House Speaker in modern times.” Can the presumptive Democratic Presidential candidate or nominee, Hillary Rodham Clinton, change the game at the national level?  Some say, If Hillary Rodham Clinton is able to maintain the campaign momentum to ensure that her message fits the news cycle in the internet age, she may just end up in the oval office. Are these observations and, or comments factual or representative of the female agenda on national politics? Is this what American feminists want; or, are there more than can be captured in visceral? In the context of the office of the Presidency, are American female really underselling themselves when they doubt the possibility of rising up to the office of Mrs. President?

Here are some raw statistics: Center for the American Women and Politics at the State University of New Jersey concluded in 2012 that: “Even when women and men favor the same candidates, they may do so by different margins resulting in gender gap. In every presidential election since 1980, a gender gap has been apparent, with a greater proportion of women than men preferring the Democrat in each case… In 2004 and 2008, women and men also preferred different candidates. In 2004, a majority of female voters supported democrat John Kerry, while majority of male voters favored Republican George W. Bush. In 2002, a majority of women voted for democrat Al Gore, while male voters supported republican George W. Bush.”

When women political attitudes and voting preferences are in consideration on national issues, including issues of immigrations, same sex marriage, health insurance, healthcare law, protection of Medicare, women are bound by the same want as their male counterparts, only with slight differences on prerogatives and preferences. Incidentally on the 2012 survey by the Center for the American Women and Politics, women were, and are probably still, lukewarm on deportation of illegal immigrants; gun ownerships or controls; legalization of same-sex marriage; and, the role of women in national political life. Some say women favor health insurance and the health care law more than men; and, the issue of making college more affordable and cutting insurance premiums resonate with them far more, because they have often borne the weight of these issues. Others maintain that women preferences are not really different from men’s; however, the urgency of need sets the preferences differently.

Contextually, women are passionate about politics, candidates and national issues; and, if historical data are what to go by, Hillary Clinton may as well be sitting on the throne come 2017. Using parameters of data collected on 2012 presidential elections by the Center for the American Women and Politics of the State University of New Jersey, women favored Democrats and their flag bearer, Barack Obama, by 10 percentage points over the Republican Party candidate, Mitt Romney; thus, they would likely favor Hillary Rodham Clinton over, Jeb Bush, Tom Cruz, Chris Christy, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum or whoever ends up as the Republican Party nominee? This is a very tricky assumption; but, one well preferred if you are a feminist and routing so badly for the first female president at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC, come the morning of January 8, 2017.

Fore-runner candidacy, Republican or Democrats?

A background survey of the press would give you a glossary of names and rankings of potential candidates for the 2016 White House. Going by a 2013 Conservative Republican Party Ranking of who is who among Republicans that may be eyeing the highest office in the land as prĂ©cised by Nate Parkhouse, the order of ranking is as follows: 1) Paul Ryan; 2) Scott Walker; 3) Chris Christie; 4) Marco Rubio; 5) Jeb Bush; 6) Bob McConnell; 7) Kelly Ayottee; 8) Rand Paul; 9) Rick Santorum; and, 10) John Boehner. These are the first ten that were known at that time; more recently, other faces are coming out of the wood works; including some familiar past players, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum; and, its seems by more recent activities, formation of an exploratory committee, PAC and APAC group, Jeb Bush, the brother of a president and son of one, may be in line for history making. For one, Governor Jeb Bush is probably a front runner on basis of name recognition; assuming his skillful distance from Governor Romney’s campaign in 2012 and the albatross of his brother’s miss-rule do not come to hunt his ambition. Secondly, his recent initiative to jump out-front other Republicans in fund raising and creating aura of inevitability, may probably work well for him in the race to the White House. For now, we must keep our ears to the ground and see who else comes out of the wood work in the next twelve months.

Among Democrats, here are some potential names circling around, all but one, being probably the possible nominee: 1) Hillary Rodham Clinton; 2) Elizabeth Warren; 3) Jeff Boss; 4) Vermin Supreme; 5) Robby Wells; and, 6) Jim Webb. This list is hardly sacrosanct or exclusive. We must expect other candidates to show up, if only in name. Of all these potential candidates, Hilary Rodham Clinton has kept a momentum of her earlier run for the White House in 2008. Incidentally, for nine year’s running, she has been named in Gallup polls as the most admired American woman in most spheres of life. Admirers say she’s got the brains, smarts, energy, celebrity, and a well-worn credit of being a great US secretary of State. The tricky nature of her meritorious service as US Secretary of State could blow either way. Skeptics may raise one or two setbacks of her service to the Obama Administration: 1) the Benghazi fiasco; 2) the Af-Pak Escalation; and probably, 3) Emboldened ISIS, despite ripple of reforms and unexpected upheavals in the Middle East towards the end of her service. Barring these, one can affirmatively say that Secretary Clinton is a shining star and has the potential of bagging the Democratic Party nomination for 2016. Interestingly, her gestures and spontaneity in the situation room during the take down of Osama Bin laden, by the outgoing administration of Barak H. Obama, epitomizes a leader in waiting, ready and capable to make and change history. One huge feminist backer says: “She will make history if elected the 45th and first female President of the United States”

The case for Hillary Rodham Clinton Candidacy for US Presidency

Within the feminist paradigm, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s candidacy for the highest office in the land will dramatically challenge perceived women marginalization, real or unreal, in national politics. The trend and argument are for all-inclusiveness of the female specie in local, state and nation governance. If anyone raises doubts regarding how a female leader can remain positively engaged in national governance, one may only look to the scores of success at the State Department during Hillary Rodham Clinton’s stewarding as US Secretary of State. Just as Secretary Clinton was ahead of the curve on many foreign issues during her tenure, her Presidency may lead to equality of sexes on a national pedestal, with the inclusive doctrine that has permeated the feminist agenda since that movement began in 1960, being prominent.

Women are often clear about their intention or preferences on national issues even when their male counterparts are skeptical; for this and other reasons, the ascendancy of Hillary to the US Presidency is expected to bring clarity to decision making at the national level. For example, the events of the 2012 Arab Spring made Secretary Clinton give a clear and concise speech at a conference in Qatar, where she affirmed that the “region’s foundations are sinking into the sand.” Imagine the vibrant follow-up of what may be perceived as a Domino effect after that speech in the region (Cairo, Libya, Oman, Bahrain, Yemen and Jordan). The clarity of her language and the spontaneity of events that followed may stand as a precursor to her decision-making ethos as US first female President; and, probably ginger Congress to act with a sense of purpose, rather than the current stagnation and limbo that has beclouded the process of lawmaking in both chambers. Just as Hillary emphasized inequality of treatment of women in many parts of the world, Africa and Asia, the long touted structural inequality in American life by feminists, may get the attention it deserves; as long held institutional reforms to avert continued sexism or inequality between male and female, will be addressed not only through legislation but also in attitude and behavior.

Conclusively, the participation of women in politics has been acclaimed as one step towards remaking perceived social inequality between American male and female. The commitment to empowerment of women to eclipse or reduce perceived men’s domination, which has often been the focus of many feminist movement or groups since the sixties, may ultimately be settled with the rise of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s candidacy to the US Presidency. For some feminist activists, ascendancy of Hillary Rodham Clinton to US Presidency is an essential step towards equality of sexes in the American narrative experience as embodied in US constitution. It celebrates the dream of the Constitutional framers and America’s fore-fathers: that America is a nation of people on equal Plato sic: “We hold this to be self-evident that all men and [women] are created equal.”. This is probably the reason for the new call to women and other progressives to rally round her candidacy.

Could the rise to Presidency of Ms. Hillary Rodham Clinton challenge perceived American gender inequality and bring about genuine reform in institutional and political structure? Would her candidacy lead to a new structure of understanding of the binary role of male and female in the national experience? Could her presidency redefine the role of a President’s spouse or partner; or could it lead to a new organizational structure within government institutions? All these questions will be out focus in the coming months.
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