The Clinton-Warren image was striking: two women, holding hands, arms raised, smiling and waving at a crowd in Cincinnati. One, Hillary Clinton, is the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. The other — Elizabeth Warren, Democratic senator from the state of Massachusetts — is reportedly on the short list of potential running mates for Clinton. The event was the opportunity for Warren to announce her support for Clinton publicly. It was also a chance for the party leaders, and the American public, to get a first look at what could be a presidency of two women: the Clinton-Warren ticket.
So, the question begs to be asked: Is our country ready for two women at the top of the Democratic ticket?
I’m summering in rural Michigan, and as I drive the back roads (let’s face it, there isn’t much else around here), I’ve conducted an informal and completely unscientific survey of the women running for county offices based on their yard signs. If it is fair to assume that names like Michelle, Mary Lou, Kathy, and Jenny belong to women, I would estimate that approximately 40 percent of the candidates are women. They seem to be vying with men at almost every level of politically elected office with the exception of county sheriff. Although we’ve seen some impressive results when women-run urban police departments — Val Demings in Orlando; Jackie Gomez-Whiteley in Cypress, Orange County, California; and Jane Castor in Tampa — that appears to be a trend that hasn’t caught on here in Oceana County.
In our own state of Utah, of course, women are present in some political positions. Mia Love comes to mind, somewhat unfortunately. They are, of course, dramatically under-represented. While women make up nearly 50 percent of the state population, Ms. Love is it at the moment on the federal level. At the state level, as of 2015 there were 16 women out of 104 total legislators, bringing our state’s women legislators in at a whopping 15.4 percent. Utah bested Alabama, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Wyoming, and West Virginia in that metric. Aren’t we special.
So, what is there about two women on the ticket that America needs to get ready for? It can’t be having two people of the same gender at the top of the ticket. We’ve had that image more times than I want to count. And we’ve even had a woman or two on the ticket. Harkening back to Sarah Palin (gulp) and and much further to Geraldine Ferraro, we have seen women in the No. 2 spot on the presidential ticket of a major party.
Is it that while one woman with whom we are at least on speaking terms is tolerable, two women exponentially increase the possibility that they might do something nefariously womanly? And what would that be, exactly? While Clinton and Warren belong to the same political party, they represent two starkly different segments within the party. Clinton has marketed herself as steadily centrist on most issues and touted her experience on the international scene. Warren makes no bones about her liberal, leftward-leaning credo. Clinton and Warren are more ideologically alike than they are different, to be sure, and they do share the XX chromosome structure, but they definitely aren’t clones. They are human beings, politicians, and persons who I would argue love our country enough to volunteer for the toughest job in the land. I think that is neither nefarious nor exclusively womanly.
So is it perhaps that our brothers of the XY chromosome ilk fear something else? Because, to date, I only hear “Oh lord, no, we can’t have two women at the top of the ticket” coming from men. Women? Not so much. Perhaps they fear that their interests might not be represented by persons not of their gender. Maybe two Democratic women would attempt to restrict their rights, say to health care, domestic safety, access to education, or equitable pay for equitable work. Those women might begin to suggest the need to re-balance representation in the sources of power in our country, if not legislatively then at least by drawing attention to the lopsidedness that currently exists. Hmm. I wonder where our brothers might get that idea.
Let me clear, though. I know many men, including the man to whom I am married, who have no issues with two women at the top of the ticket. Would it be unusual? Of course, they admit, but they aren’t ready to exile themselves to Canada in the event of a Democratic win.
And also to be fair, the cries I am hearing are veiled. As a citizen of this country, I’m proud of that fact. We have made it this far: It is no longer acceptable to rail against women simply because they are women. The weaker sex. The little ladies.
And for that I credit the Hillary Clintons, Elizabeth Warrens, and the most recently departed Pat Summits of the world. I also credit the Michelles, Mary Lous, Kathys, and Jennys who are running for office here in the middle of nowhere, Michigan. I laud every woman who had butted up against a glass ceiling and cracked it. Thank you.
So, is our country ready to elect two women with a Clinton-Warren ticket? The answer is, it had better be.
Because here we come. If not this time around, then soon.