USA. 1. woman in 200 years or Hillary`s apples
BSSB.BE smh.com. 04.11.2016
If Hillary Clinton wins on November 8 she will have forged a remarkable and unprecedented political trail: the first woman in more than 200 years of American democracy to win the Presidency, and the first former First Lady to become Commander-in-chief.
Contrary to what many might think, the latter is in many ways the more formidable achievement.
In a country where women are still such a distinct minority in politics that they obviously are not widely accepted by many voters, the path to power for a woman has all too often been to take over a seat from a dead husband. This used to be so common that it even has a name: the widows’ succession.
Thirty-four of the 90 women who were elected to the US House of Representatives between 1916 and 1980 went into seats previously held by their husbands, the Huffington Post reported in July last year. The practice continues today, most recently with Democrat Debbie Dingell, who took over her (still living) husband’s seat in Detroit, Michigan just last year.
Amazingly, it was not until 1978 that the first woman was elected to the US Senate in her own right – without having assumed a seat once held by her husband. Only 31 women have ever been elected to the Senate – and 20 of these are currently serving, showing how recent a phenomenon it is.
Those who argue Hillary Clinton is similarly only on the verge of the presidency by virtue of her marriage miss entirely the salient features of what she is accomplishing here. Bill Clinton did not die in office and Hillary Clinton did not succeed him.
Sixteen years after he left the White House, she will have won on her own terms, and by forging a conventional political pathway to the presidency. She was elected twice as a US senator, then served four years as secretary of state. In each job she defined her issues, and became her own woman, politically speaking.
It is perhaps difficult to remember now the scorn and scepticism that greeted Hillary’s decision to seek nomination for the highly coveted New York Senate spot vacated by the veteran Daniel “Pat” Moynihan. It was early 1999, she was still in the White House, a wife, and a humiliated one at that following the sordid Lewinsky affair and her husband’s impeachment.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is far from succeeding her husband.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is far from succeeding her husband. Photo: Mary Altaffer
But she won the race and began the long process of building a political persona that would qualify her to run for president in her own right. She could not escape that she is a Clinton, a name that has both high negatives and positives and which is hers by dint of marriage. Which is no doubt why she is campaigning for president as Hillary.
There are two reasons that the United States is practically the last democracy in the world to have had a woman leader. The pathway to president is a narrow one, usually requiring a successful candidate to have been a US senator or a state governor – positions that, still, few women have occupied for long enough to accumulate political credibility. And to vote for president, voters must put a mark by her name.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton with her husband and former US president Bill Clinton.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton with her husband and former US president Bill Clinton. Photo: Getty Images
US politics so far has seemingly been unable to imagine a woman as the most powerful political figure in the world, commanding the world’s biggest military, let alone a woman they were once accustomed to seeing as a First Lady.
In Parliamentary systems, where the parties elect leaders, women have fared better: Julia Gillard and Theresa May became prime minister via party room ballots, while Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel and Helen Clark were elected to lead parties that were then elected to government.
Illustration: Cathy Wilcox
Illustration: Cathy Wilcox
Other international female leaders succeeded dead or murdered husbands or fathers. Think of the world’s first female prime minister, Mrs Bandaranaike in Ceylon, or Corazon Aquino in the Philippines, Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan, Isabel Peron in Argentina
The chances of Hillary Clinton winning the presidency were artfully parodied in a meme circulated on social media last week that showed a youthful Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham in 1972 when they were both students at Yale University. The bubble coming out of Bill’s mouth says “Do you think that one, or even both, of us might be president some day?” Hillary replies: “Yeah, right. When Bob Dylan wins the Nobel Prize for Literature.”
It would be an incredible 44 years after that picture was taken that Hillary would seek the office, and if successful set down a marker for what has now become possible for women in politics.
If you are ambitious and you are persistent and, of course, willing to endure the sexism, the misogyny and the extraordinary vitriol that has accompanied her all the way to the White House, you can become president.
Even if you were once First Lady.
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