Is the U.S. Ready for Madam President?

By Shelby H.

Managing Editor

2012 was a victorious year for women in politics. In the last election, twenty Senate seats were filled by females, and over 75 women were elected to the House of Representatives. America’s voice was heard loud and clear on this one: women too can be leaders. However, while women have broken through the glass ceilings of the judicial and legislative branches, a “No Girls Allowed” sign still hangs outside the oval office.

For a nation that prides itself on its progressive and modern thinking, the United States of America has fallen behind other countries when it comes to the progress of women in politics. At least fifty foreign nations have had a female president or prime minister. Sri Lanka was the first to embrace a woman as their leader when Sirivamo Bandaranaike took the position in 1960. Since Bandaranaike, scores of women across the globe have climbed the political ladder, despite many obstacles in their way. Countries some might consider “less advanced” than the United States have entrusted their well-being to a woman, which begs the question: when will the U.S. abandon its patriarchal culture and welcome Madam President to the White House?

America’s issue is not that the people just refuse to vote for a female candidate. In the 2008 election, Hillary Clinton was the first strong contender in a Presidential race, with Sarah Palin lined up for Vice President to John McCain. Of course, Barack Obama broke through as th220px-Sirimavo_Ratwatte_Dias_Ba SHe favoured candidate, and Clinton gracefully accepted the position of Secretary of State. It is something of a mystery as to why strong female politicians have not made significant steps towards the executive office. Senior Taylor Head believes this vast gender gap is due to the restrictive nature of tradition, stating, “Throughout history, males have always been considered more dominant and powerful, and as humans we tend to be creatures of habit.” Luckily, the U.S. has freed itself of traditional thinking before, as with women’s suffrage and racial equality.

The impediments of habit have unfortunately turned much of the voter population to cynicism. In general, many Americans feel that their vote does not count, particularly if they do not live in what is known as a battleground state. When it comes to a more controversial candidate, those who might support them will often feel discouraged, believing that the popular vote would not be in their favor. Head predicts that “we know what the results will likely be,” so those who would vote a woman into office might choose to not vote at all, believing they would not succeed. American voters have locked themselves in an unfortunate cycle of cynicism and apathy and will not see any significant changes to the government until their attitudes change.

Traditionally, U.S. presidents often rise from the position of Senator. Presently twenty women hold seats in the Senate, both Republicans and Democrats, paving the way for a female candidate in the election of 2016. Much to her supporters’ chagrin, Hillary Clinton has demurred from the 2016 election, leaving voters to wonder who might step in. Any of these twenty women could declare an intention to run in the next election. Democratic Senator from New York, Kristin Gillibrand was lauded by the New York Times in 2008 as a possible contender as the United States’ first female president. Other names dropped by the Times included Kathleen Sebelius, now Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security. Whoever she may be, the next female presidential candidate could very likely be the first female president.

Admittedly, the United States has come a long way when it comes to women in politics. It has not even been a hundred years since women were given their right to vote, and now women are breaking records and defying stereotypes as they write their names in history. However, it is high time that a capable woman be given her chance at leading the U.S. back to prosperity. As the polls from the 2012 election show, the United States is certainly ready for Madam President.




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