"Exhibiting You" - Story

An Army Of Women

By: The White House Project
Other authors: Marie Wilson
Submitted: 05/09/2008

In this week’s Gallup Poll, national Democratic voters continue to be evenly split, with Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton each receiving 47% support for the party’s nomination. Yet despite this neck-and-neck race to the partisan finish line, as Eric Boehlert recently surmised, the press has been pushing relentlessly to get Clinton to throw in the towel and rescind her claim to the nomination. As the race for top democratic billing remains cloaked in ambiguity, I’ve been thinking more and more that a decisive win for the nomination is only a piece of the victory pie. And this may be the very reason why large swaths of the press are so diametrically opposed to one more day of Hillary.

Boehlert notes that numerous precendents exist for nominees to continue to duke it out until party conventions: Reagan and Ford; Kennedy and Carter; Hart and Mondale. Yet the media has never pressed a nominee to exit the race with such passionate insistence as they have with Clinton. And whereas Reagan was touted as a “resilient fighter” for his persistence, Clinton is painted as an “arrogant” and ”selfish egomaniac.” Why such a vehement disparity of descriptors? Is it the case that so much ambition in a woman is simply too much for American sensibilities to bear?

I think that the media’s continual attacks on Clinton are symptomatic of deep cultural fear: that she is an extraordinarily visible woman who refuses to “know her place” - and that her refusal to give up her claim to power might be a rallying cry for a new wave of feminist fury. If we forget the delegates, the caucuses v. primaries, and the battle over Michigan and Florida, we see that a major win has already been had by and for the women of our nation through Clinton’s candidacy. And many Americans might be afraid of how far this momentum will take us.

Never again will it be questioned, or a poll commissioned, on whether women are qualified to be president.

Never again will there be a presidential primary, I predict, without a woman – or hopefully several women – candidates.

And never again will there be any room for discussion about whether a woman can be tough enough to serve as our Commander-in-Chief.

The candidacy of Hillary Clinton has changed the political landscape forever, and has reinvigorated the political aspirations of women from all walks of life. To many, this “army of women” is a scary thing indeed. And who knows how far it will go if Hillary wins the nomination - or the presidency.

Whether Clinton has been the “perfect” candidate is not the issue at hand, and as the president of a nonpartisan organization, I am less concerned with Clinton-the-candidate than I am with what her candidacy represents. Her campaign tactics, voting record, and political maneuverings are up for debate. She may or may not win the nomination. But what she has already, and decisively, won has been a victory for all Americans, male and female, of all races, young and old: Clinton has broken a barrier for women in political leadership. For that, we are the collective inheritors of a great victory. And yet, this win is offset by what it continues to reveal: our deeply embedded cultural fears of politically powerful women.

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