I’m pretty excited about voting for a female presidential candidate and watching her win.
For one, it’s about time! Women deserve an equal place in society with men, and their ascent toward parity has been thwarted and slowed, regularly, by people who are invested in the patriarchy. Having a female president would hopefully accelerate that ascent.
But I think we also just desperately need a woman in that position.
Men and women are equal, but we’re not the same. We have different manners of seeing the world and communicating. Patriarchs have used a version of that statement to justify the subjugation of women, saying that “a man’s sphere is the world of business and politics while a woman has domain over her kitchen and infants.” I take a different view. I think that men and women should each be equally represented in each sphere, not segregated into compartments.
Come to think of it — what if we amended the Constitution so that there was one male and one female senator from each state? A guaranteed 50/50 split?
Anyway, back to the Executive Branch… I think a woman should be in the Oval Office next time around so that we can start balancing things out. Maybe a man can have it back after that, and then a woman again. They can trade! We can write that into the Constitution too!
Whatever the case – there have been 44 dudes in a row and many of them have been awesome dudes who have done awesome things BUT inevitably there are awesome things that weren’t done (or terrible things that were done) simply because there wasn’t a female mind in the room.
…But for whom shall I vote?
Don’t get me wrong… I like a lot about Hillary Clinton. I can’t imagine not voting for her if she’s the Democratic nominee. But I felt that way before, last time there was talk about her running. Yet when 2008 rolled around, I found myself not only voting for her opponent in the primary but telling my friends to do the same.
I did that because she’s an unapologetic warmonger.
There are a lot of theories about why Barack Obama was able to surge ahead of the supposed “inevitable” nominee in 2008. Some have posited a belief that sexism is more recalcitrant than racism, which may be true. Others have pointed to Obama’s messianic swagger and charismatic words, which certainly played a large role.
But I know that I turned away from Hillary because she refused to say she was sorry for voting to invade Iraq. Now that I’m watching the machinations of another run come together, I’m realizing that I still feel that way.
I don’t know if Obama would have had the spine to speak out against the war if he was in the US Senate instead of the Illinois Senate. But the point is that he did speak out against it — and before someone jumps in the comments to tell me how horrible he is for drone strikes and escalating Afghanistan, let me just say that, first, I’m talking about campaign rhetoric pre-presidency and, second, it’s a far different thing to start a war than to make mistakes prosecuting an inherited one.
And he was right to not want us to start the war. It was so obvious that war was a bad idea!
Obama wasn’t some magical prophet who somehow knew that something that looked really good on paper would actually become one of the biggest mistakes in American history. It didn’t look good on paper! It was opposed by pretty much every expert with a cool head who was far enough from Dick Cheney to not have to worry about being literally eaten by him.
John Edwards, the third wheel in that election who is typically an utter embarrassment to humanity itself, did one thing in the 2008 cycle that I admire: he said he was sorry for his vote to authorize the war. He admitted that he made a mistake – he used that word - and he expressly acknowledged that the Bush administration “manipulated” evidence “to fit a political agenda.” Sure, he left out the part about the fact that most rational observers noticed that the Bush administration was manipulating evidence while it was doing it, but politics is politics and we have reason to believe that maybe he just spent too much time on his hair to actually read the bills he signed.
Anyway, Hillary Clinton refused to apologize. She ceded the moral high ground in the argument on the Iraq War to John Edwards. Ceding the moral high ground to John Edwards, in anything, is just sad.
Some make a case that her team thought she’d appear “soft” if she did so, while others more cynically say that she was merely carving out a distinction between herself and her two chief rivals. I’m sure she’s sensitive to being portrayed as politically calculating.
But she still did the wrong thing. Now she has time to correct her mistake.
So I make a plea: Apologize, Secretary Clinton! Please! Admit your mistake, even if you have to keep up the pretense that you were “misled” and not “acting in a politically calculated way.”
If she apologizes, then I will be a foot soldier for her election. But if she doesn’t apologize…
Well, the alternative to apologizing is continuing with a narrative that she made the right decision when she voted to authorize the invasion.
It means that she’s stubbornly clinging to the idea that invading Iraq was the right thing to do despite the still incalculable loss of life, liberty, limbs, and property. Despite the false pretenses that led us there, which were based on evidence that was put together in a crassly-manipulative-at-worst, criminally-incompetent-at-best fashion. Despite the destabilization not only of the nation we invaded but the volatile region surrounding it. Despite the damage to the Afghanistan war effort and the recruitment surge for our enemies. Despite the suffering of young veterans whose horrific PTSD is the result of the war that Hillary Clinton authorized with nothing but the guarantees of the likes of Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney that things wouldn’t go the way they did.
If she still doesn’t think she fucked up, then she is fucked up.
It won’t mean that she’s soft if she say’s she’s sorry. It will mean that she’s a human and that she has a capacity to learn from and grow from her mistakes. It will telegraph the message that she’s not going to engage in more wars of choice when she’s in the White House. It will demonstrate that she’s a strong leader who puts her country over herself.
As I said – I have a hard time imaging not voting for her if she’s nominated. But this dampens my enthusiasm. And if a viable competitor were to arise before the primaries, I might give that person more consideration than I would otherwise. And that’s because this isn’t just about the past. I think that being able to admit mistakes is crucial to leadership, and I don’t think that America should go forward with the same reckless abandon and refusal of responsibility that it has in the past.
The next president, like all presidents, will face crucial foreign policy questions that we can only begin to anticipate. I want to have full confidence in her.