Believe it or not, the 2016 race for the White House is just beginning. Yes, it seems like it’s already been going on forever, but that’s just the nature of the beast. By this time next year, as we prepare for the inauguration of our 45th president, talk of walls and birth certificates and the “billionaire class” will be a distant memory. If you don’t believe it, just ask past presidential frontrunners Rudy Giuliani or Howard Dean.
While the race for the Republican nomination is still very much up in the air, it’s looking somewhat clearer on the Democrat’s side with the caveat being that it likewise looked obvious going into the 2008 presidential contest, and we all know how that ended.
In the 2008 primary battle with Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton avoided the pitch “elect me and you’ll elect our first female president.” She seemed content with the idea that rather than state the obvious and pander, she’d let that fact speak for itself and run on her record. Ultimate defeat at the hands of Obama back then obviously convinced her now that the wiser course is to make 2016 a milestone election. She wants us to believe that by electing her president, Americans will honorably check another box.
Given the importance she’s placing on electing a woman this time around, it only seems fair that we analyze her resume a little closer. After all, if elected, she’ll always own a place in history as “the first.” Surely it would be wonderful if “the first” is also “the best.” It would be unfortunate if the woman who finally claims this historic mantle proves later to be worthy of nothing more than a footnote in history or worse is such a disaster in office that the United States doesn’t see another female president elected for the next two hundred years.
In some ways, it’s odd that we’ve never elected a woman president given that diversity and opportunity are hallmarks of our country. European nations with stiff entrenched patriarchal traditions beat us to the punch.
Perhaps that’s because in Europe there was still an avenue to power for women when the monarch failed to produce a male heir. As a result, the first female leader of Great Britain was Mary Tudor, eldest daughter of Henry VIII, who distinguished herself during her brief time in power by persecuting Protestants. Her record in this regard earned her the moniker “Bloody Mary.” Obviously, that’s not exactly the most auspicious start for a “first.” Fortunately for the female gender, she was immediately followed by one of the most famous historic leaders of all time, male or female, Queen Elizabeth I.
Continuing to lead the way, the British later elected their first female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, who historians give high marks to even today. Israel’s first female Prime Minister, Golda Meir, is also held in high esteem, and Germany’s first female Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is Time magazine’s most recent Person of the Year.
Clearly, nations across the globe can boast first female leaders with nice records.
A current theme in political discourse is American exceptionalism. For those who contend that Americans are the best, shouldn’t we make our own first female president someone who is truly exceptional?
I think so.
And I don’t believe Hillary Clinton is worthy of that distinction. Putting aside her abysmal record as Secretary of State which includes the infamous private server she maintained in her home and the Benghazi disaster, her own behavior with women who dared threaten her husband’s political career certainly disqualifies her as the feminist champion she likes to portray on the campaign trail.
If Hillary Clinton’s gender is the main justification for her run for the White House then I think that’s all the more reason to reject her candidacy for President of the United States.