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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Column: It’s not the Democrats who tokenize women

In the past eight years, we have seen an African-American president, and in the past two elections, we have seen women running to be the presidential nominees on major tickets. In 2008, the nation got its first female vice presidential candidate since Geraldine Ferraro in 1984.

The Executive Vice President and CEO of the National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPeirre, does not see this as historic, saying, “eight years of one demographically symbolic president is enough.”

Frankly, LaPeirre’s remark is nothing short of disgusting.

Dismissing Obama’s presidency because of his skin color is wrong. Dismissing Hillary Clinton’s candidacy as a feminist attempt is equally as terrible. Like or dislike their politics, both worked hard to get to where they are today, and they inspire millions.

Sexism is not new in today’s politics, and it did not start with Hillary Clinton in 2008. Shirley Chisholm ran for president in 1972 and won 152 votes at the Democratic National Convention. Ferraro was the vice presidential candidate with Walter Mondale in 1984. Both women faced tremendous obstacles and attempted to break down barriers for women today.

It’s not easy being a woman in politics. According to a survey conducted by the Center for Talent Innovation, women are typically judged harshly when it comes to their perceived leadership qualification, which is often based off their appearances. In Fortune 500 CEOs and higher political offices, women are severely underrepresented. Congress is only about 20 percent female.

Though it is time for a female president, as Americans, that’s not what we should judge Hillary Clinton by as a qualified commander in chief. Frankly, she is the most qualified candidate running for president so far, and it’s exciting to see what she, as a person, will do.

That being said, it is time for a woman president. Women’s suffrage is less than 100 years old, yet women like Madeleine Albright and Eleanor Roosevelt helped pioneer routes for women in higher offices. Since 1920, women have overcome obstacles in many parts of society. We’ve come a long way from the days of “The Feminine Mystique,” but we still have a long way to go. Women have yet to head the White House.

Hillary Clinton’s resume is impressive, and it shows she has worked for all she has done. She went to Wellesley College and then to Yale Law School. She was one of the top lawyers in the country before Bill Clinton became president. As first lady, Hillary Clinton was instrumental in health care reform. In 2001, she was elected in her own right to the U.S. Senate. She was the first female presidential candidate for a major party to be competitive in a national primary, and she was Secretary of State.

Hillary Clinton is a woman, yes, but first and foremost, she is a political leader. Obama and Hillary Clinton are only tokens because we, as Americans, tokenize them.

No president is, nor should be, a token. It’s time to look past gender and race. It was evident at the Correspondents’ Dinner when Cicely Strong asked every journalist to take an oath not to talk about Hillary Clinton’s appearance during the coverage of the 2016 election; America is tired of hearing about it.

Somehow, for the NRA, it isn’t tokenism when Sen. Marco Rubio or Sen. Ted Cruz run for president. It isn’t about gender when Michele Bachmann announces a bid or Sarah Palin is a vice presidential candidate. However, when a highly competent and experienced individual runs for president, it’s the Democratic Party trying to create token presidents?

It’s time to move past Hillary Clinton’s gender and see her for the competent leader she is. Obviously, if elected, she would be the first female president. The fact is, she is already a leader and a role model for women around the country.

She has shattered many glass ceilings with grace and poise. This race is about the problems this country faces, and if LaPeirre can’t understand that, then he should not bother commenting on current political issues.

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Maddy Bynes is a junior studying political science and history. Follow her on Twitter.

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