Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Pat Summitt, Hillary Clinton and the future of Women in America Democracy: What 2016 American Voters must realize?

Keywords or Terms: Pat Summitt; University of Tennessee Women's Basketball program; Alzheimer; Excellence; American Democracy; Great Women; Trailblazer; Hillary Clinton; Indira Gandhi; Golda Meir; Sirimavo Bandaranaike; Margaret Thatcher; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf; Angela Merkel, India, Israel, Sri Lanka, Liberia, Britain, Germany, US; Character; Leadership; International Terror; Turkey Airport Explosion

Pat Summitt, the winningest coach in Women University Basketball League, went home to be with the Lord this morning, after a long battle with early dementia and Alzheimer. She was 64 years-old. This made me realize the true end of a heroine, fieriest coach in American Sport history, a female trail blazer, just four years older than me; but so accomplished, so appreciated, a 2012 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, one so unique in NCAA Division I basketball coaching that you wonder, why great ones like her hardly come around every so often. Human Legends that tread the earth, change the conception of so many, create an aura of excellence, inevitability and probably, invisibility in life; good for all times, records and national titles; yet, still succumb to human mortality, just too soon. To her son, Tyler, our heartfelt consolation; to the University of Tennessee basketball program, our sincere prayers, and to her family, our gratitude, prayers and appreciations. May the Good Lord, comfort and fill the void created amongst the family and give all of you, friends, families and associates, the fortitude to accept what you cannot change.

Out of fear of being labeled as insensitive, I beg for indulgence from those who feel it is unfair to use Patty’s home calling to spring up discussion of accomplishment of Women in American Democracy. There comes a time in life that confluence of events in living and dying, and urgency of the moment, maybe for the sake of love of country, teaches us how to live, how to appreciate, and how to give opportunity or fair shake to the often excluded, once unappreciated, those ever so begrudged and lambasted as unfit, too aggressive, too corrupt, or too untrustworthy, to rise to the throne of excellence or pinnacle of US politics and government. Before we lose another finest woman to glory and question ourselves, why we never gave her a chance or opportunity to exhibit her political prowess, let us admonish ourselves that, it is worth our forbearance or deference, to allow Hillary Clinton into the White House oval office. Let us begin to leave behind those ‘ism’ that have so much beclouded our judgements and denied us the foresights of a prism of hope in the times of uncertainties; never giving up to our fears, or misconstrued conceptions of those who do not look like us, smile like us or worship like us. Pat Summitt was a great woman, an epitome of toughness and courage, a fine basketball coach and admirable trailblazer; a huge tree in the forest of women's basketball; however, if no one gave her a chance, if no one looked over the horizon and saw her resilience, her prowess in basketball coaching, she would probably have been another footnote in the history of American Sports.

Though not in the league of finest basketball coaches, Hillary Rodham Clinton, is a great woman in her own right, a class act, a visionary, a wonderful attorney, admirable former first lady, close to perfect former US Secretary of State, proponent of emancipation of women suffrage and the right of women to be heard on issues affecting their body and ultimately, an embodiment of what are so glorious and exemplary in American Democracy. This is why her candidacy for 2016 White House oval office must be seen in the context of a trail blazer, one of its kind in a world of fierce competition from the opposite sex, and one that may now be construed in the context of inevitability; a once inconceivable candidate in the life of America’s Democracy.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, despite all her faults from fierce critics, represents the best in American women. She has the credentials of a heroine in American Politics similar to the impact of Pat Summitt in American University Women Basketball narrative. She is the first female flag bearer of a major American political party for the highest office in the land, an accomplishment in itself; an erudite Yale College alumni, who once attributed her contribution to the 1992 election of her husband to the White House, to all she learned from Yale law, including her commitment to problems of children and the poor; with a dashing sense of political activism for the betterment of America. That is the kind of person that would end up in the White House oval office in January, 2017, if Americans would just look beyond their very little differences in the conception of the female specie for position of leadership. For skeptics, Hillary Rodham Clinton is now here, can you please give her the same level of consideration you’ve given to all men that have occupied the White House oval office in the past two and half century of America’s democracy? Would the American woman voter see the historical making importance of having the first female in the helms of affair of the greatest Democracy on earth?

To those who say, why? Why should we consider her as equal if not superior to her current opponent in the Republican party and probably, many men that have occupied the White House oval office? My humble response is this: If Indira Gandhi led a nation of One and half billion people five decades ago (1966 – 1977 & 1980-1984); if Golda Meir led a conflictual democracy of about eight million people about the same five decades ago (1969-73); if Sirimavo Bandaranaike, led Sri Lanka for about twenty years, in a not-so consecutive years (1960–65, 1970–77 and 1994–2000); if Margret Thatcher, chemist and attorney, the seminal controversial conservative party leader, the iron lady, led Great Britain for three terms to the late eighties and early nineties; if Nobel-Peace Prize winning  Ellen Johnson Sirleaf can lead Liberia out of the worst hostilities in that nation’s history to somewhat of a stable democracy in one decade; and, Angela Merkel, research scientist, has been leading Germany since 2005, during what may be seen as turbulent times in European politics; why not Hillary Clinton, for America; even if only for importance of women suffrage, progress and symbolism.

Now, mind you, no one is arguing that symbolism is sufficient enough to vote for a candidacy; however, no one must overlook the past contributions of Ms. Clinton to this democracy; first as a former US Secretary of State, America’s first lady; and proponent of sensibility and even handedness in times of tumultuous political, social and economic challenges in America. Why gamble on a billionaire business magnate, whose main focus for running for US Presidency is probably to better his brand, or advance his business opportunities, at the expenses of the loyalty of many disenfranchised Americans, who currently see his perceived success, as imminent quality for someone ready to occupy the White House oval Office?

In Hillary, if Bill doesn’t screw up on the marriage front, all will be well and we will get two presidents in one, with the election of Hillary Rodham Clinton for 2016 White House. Leadership is very important in the life of a nation and Hillary Rodham Clinton has the chance of proving herself as a true leader; and, like other erudite female leaders mentioned above, she has the zeal of an unrelenting leader and a backbone of steel. She does not have a perfect and wonderful smile; however, she understands very well the purpose and goal of a US presidency. After having worked and or smooched with two US Presidents in the past two and a half decades, as a first lady of the United States and President Barack Obama’s US Secretary of State, Ms. Clinton is close enough to the office to become the next President of the United States. She has a strong sense of the duties and responsibility of the office, a close to thorough understanding of current challenges the nation is facing with the economy, healthcare, securing her borders, and fighting international terrorism. Her zeal and participation in recent presidential decisions on combating international terrorism or bringing to account one-time America’s greatest enemy, Osama bin Laden, secure her place in annals of American political leadership. Ms. Clinton exemplifies the exceptional qualities of a team player, who appreciates the type of leadership needed to thrive in managing a multicultural democracy. Even for far-right supporters of Donald Trump, who may be dumbfounded and outraged at the thoughts of having Hillary Rodham Clinton in the White House oval office, the truth of the matter is, she is a better qualified American Politician and lawyer, who has worked, understudied and shared in the dreams and aspirations of being a US President.

Hillary Clinton stands a chance of being a dominant force in America politics; and if what associates around her know of her work ethics is true, she is neither disenchanted with the challenges and workload of a US President; nor is she disaffected with team work in running the affairs of the state. Hardly contemptuous of men in the corridors of power, she never the less embraces the notion that women can do rather just as well in politics; and the fact that she has close to eighty-five percent of operational leadership in her presidential campaign as women, is a testimony to her strong commitment and belief in women, and their lofty contributions to American politics. Can her opponent offer a compatible opportunity or consideration for huge ratio of females in his presidential campaign for 2016 White House? Probably not. Donald Trump is probably working hard to put women in their place, staying focused on marginalizing minorities and Muslims, and creating storms in a tempest, with his insistent use of social media to discuss what is essentially important communication regarding the race for the White House oval office; and, who are members of his leadership team, what caliber of men and women are hanging around him to help achieve a successful campaign, and or probably attain a successful presidency and leadership of the free world, in a time of uncertainties in terrorists’ attacks and broken promises in Turkey, Europe, and Middle East.

For a wife, who once spared a cheating husband the indignity of broken marital promises, one who has remained calm in times of marital disappointment, close to time of a national tragedy, and chosen to sort her feelings out on her own timetable, it is safe to believe that such a person, will be a better presidential material, than one who attempts to stair up emotions, castigate his opponents, apply insulting indiscretions to minor shortcomings of opponents, and humiliate the less fortunate. Character matters in leadership, and a man or woman who is unbridled in the use of their tongue, would create more divisions than is necessary in a world of multiplicities and differences, and tripartite (executive, legislative and judicial) political powers; one demanding authentic compromise and teamwork to achieve successful leadership in the White House. A president cannot afford to be vulnerable to his or her political enemies; and this very crucial lesson, probably learned from close association with a president who went through an impeachment hearings and proceedings while still occupying the White House oval office, would serve her better in making and taking reflective decisions. Albeit, her experience as a humiliated spouse at the receiving end of an impeachment hearing, where her marital trust and commitment, were openly impeached, played out to the disgust of many in the media in an attempt to bring down a presidency, all these setbacks, will serve her better in the position of a US President.

As they say, what don’t kill you, only makes you tougher, stronger and or better. Visualize Hillary Clinton as a cadet that has been taken to the woodshed, hazed, chastised and humiliated; yet survived all the atrocities. Many legislators still sitting in US Congress, know Hillary in and out and will readily tell you, she is not a push over and neither is she a wishy washy leader that may be stirred down by any prime minister, president or monarch in the world. However, no one can truly say that of Donald Trump and no one can attest to his complete loyalty to what is good, fit and commendable in a US Presidency and American Democracy. Congressional Republicans who have led a campaign of political calumny against Hillary Clinton when she fought for affordable and quality healthcare under her husband’s administration, and foreign policy as a US Secretary of State under President Barack Obama, can easily attest to her resilience, character and preparedness for the highest office in the land.

What is her manifesto or offering as a candidate for the US Presidency? On Education, Hillary Rodham Clinton says: “As president, I'll work to ensure every child—from every ZIP code—has access to a world-class education, including access to high- she quality preschool. We need to strike the right balance on testing—with fewer, fairer and better tests for elementary and secondary school students. And we must support teachers with the training and resources they need.” On health care she says: “As President I will defend Affordable Healthcare Act, build on its successes, and go even further to reduce cost. My plan will crack down on drug companies charging excessive prices, slow the growth of out-of-pocket cost, and provide a new credit to those facing high health expenses.” On guns, she says: “I’ll take on the gun lobby and fight for commonsense reforms to keep guns away from terrorists, domestic abusers and other violent criminals – including comprehensive background checks and closing the loopholes that allow guns to fall into the wrong hands.” On immigration, she says: We need compressive immigration reform, with a path to full and equal citizenship. She wants to challenge systemic racism, invest in communities of colors, and pass comprehensive immigration reform law.” On taxes, she believes the wealthiest pay too little taxes as compared to the middle income households; she wants to close corporate loop holes and ensure the rich do not pay at a lower rate, when compared to middle income households; she will give tax relief to working classes, who are struggling in paying for healthcare and college education.” On foreign policy, Ms. Clinton says: “She will defend America’s values and keep America safe, while at the same time, maintain a cutting edge military, strengthening our alliances, cultivating new partners, standing up to aggressors, defeating ISIS and enforcing the Iran Nuclear agreement.” On Abortion, Ms. Clinton says: As President, I’ll stand up with Planned parenthood and support women access to critical health services, including safe and legal abortion.” On Economy and Jobs, Ms. Clinton: “wants to create good paying jobs and build an economy that works for all – not just the wealthy one percenter; She will cut taxes for the middle income earners, raise the federal minimum wage, invest in infrastructure and education; and help families balance work and family life.”  On Gays, Ms. Clinton wants to: fight to ensure lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans have full equality under the law, and end discrimination in employment, housing, schools, and other aspects of our society, to these Americans.

All these agenda look rather herculean, magnanimous and probably insurmountable within a period of four years. However, if we don’t give her a chance, we may never know how far she may get, we may never know if her acquired experience with being close to the office could help America make appreciable progress in the areas of her promise. What is imperative to me, that she is given equal opportunity or shot at addressing some of these issues if not all. Incidentally, a couple of the promises have been overtaken by recent US Supreme Court decisions: 1) state regulated abortion dispensation; and 2) gun ownership by folks convicted of domestic violence. The remaining and others that may be added at the Democratic Party Convention in July, are additional hurdles that have to be climbed on the way to achieving the proverbial American dream, from having the right leadership in the White House oval office come January, 2017.

As a respite, Hillary Clinton appears to us as a responsive and reflective democratic leader. And as exemplified by trail blazers, she will probably bring along a toolbox of defiant resolutions that will help America progress on her way to the promised land. What is unique about trailblazers like her often, is the determination and zeal of thinking outside the box. Pat Summitt is known to stop her players and ask the question, "What have you done for your team today?" Maybe the question we all should ask ourselves is, what have we done for America today to ensure that a trailblazer takes the mantle of leadership in the White House? Have we reflected on the leadership qualities of the two candidates before us? If we have not, what is preventing us from asking ourselves the outside the box question: “Why not have a female, a trailblazer in the White House oval office, rather than someone who considers himself above everyone, superior to all other races, other religions, and well-endowed to lead just because he was born with the silver spoon in his mouth? The choice is ours, we may either follow a trailblazer or remain in the same illusion of the past two and half centuries.

Courtesy: Library of Congress

[Four African American women seated on steps of building at Atlanta University, Georgia]

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