The rancor dominating the presidential election obscured a truly historic moment this past week: A woman became the presumptive presidential nominee for a major political party.
Maybe it’s a reflection of just how far women have come that many people just shrugged off the news, moving on to the latest Donald Trump brouhaha.
Monitoring Tuesday night’s primary results, I was expecting to just watch another round of cable TV presidential primary coverage, with souped-up cable TV graphics, talking heads and way too many commercials.
I know full well that Hillary Clinton, a woman, is running for president. I know she’s long wanted to be president.
But as New Jersey’s results came in, the realization that a woman was indeed the presumptive nominee of a major political party took my breath away (you know how emotional us women can be).
I thought of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, of Lucy Stone and Victoria Woodhull, all trailblazers in women’s fight for the right to vote.
Sure, Margaret Chase Smith ran for president in 1964, and Shirley Chisholm ran in 1972. But neither had a chance; this candidate has a chance.
While Tuesday night was Hillary Clinton’s moment, it
was also every woman’s moment. It was also a moment for all those like Stanton and Anthony who fought for women to have a say in how they are governed.
That’s what hit home for me.
This isn’t an issue of liking Hillary Clinton or voting for her on Election Day. This is about a level of validation for a gender that some still consider the weaker sex.
I was born in the 1950s, when the idea of a woman president was preposterous.
Women weren’t smart enough, I was told. They were too emotional and prone to hysterics, especially at “that time of the month.” They didn’t have the courage needed to make tough decisions. They would just do what their husbands told them to do.
Frankly, that rationale was used to stamp lots of jobs back then as “a man’s job.”
Thankfully, attitudes have changed dramatically over time and women today have many of the same opportunities that men do.
But it’s too soon to forget that it wasn’t until 1920, after a very long struggle, that women were even allowed to vote.
To this day, there are women who vote the way their husbands tell them to. Now there are women governors and senators, mayors and members of Congress. But that top job has remained elusive. It’s also worthy of note that while women have made inroads in politics, their representation in government is still far, far short of 51 percent. When we talk power politics here in New York state, we talk about “the three men in the room.”
Certainly, Clinton’s gender should not be a reason to vote either for her or against her. That’s the whole point. Consider issues, character and leadership, not their gender, their race, their ethnicity or their religion.
Judy Patrick is the editor of The Daily Gazette.