A Future Woman President

The New York Times has an article today which serves as a good follow up to my post yesterday which argues that Clinton failed to win the nomination because she is a flawed candidate, not because of sexism. The article presents a plausible hypothetical description of a future woman president:

That woman will come from the South, or west of the Mississippi. She will be a Democrat who has won in a red state, or a Republican who has emerged from the private sector to run for governor. She will have executive experience, and have served in a job like attorney general, where she will have proven herself to be “a fighter” (a caring one, of course).

She will be young enough to qualify as postfeminist (in the way Senator Barack Obama has come off as postracial), unencumbered by the battles of the past. She will be married with children, but not young children. She will be emphasizing her experience, and wearing, yes, pantsuits.

Oh, and she may not exist.

This presents two major differences between Clinton and a woman who is more likely to be successful. First, she will win based upon having actual experience, not based upon who she is married to. She certainly will not resort to using time as a corporate lawyer on the board of Wal-Mart sitting quiet while they opposed unions as part of thirty-five years of experience qualifying her for the Democratic nomination. (On the other hand, such experience might be considered meaningful for the GOP nomination.)

Secondly, a postfeminist candidate will be far more likely to succeed. It has become increasingly clear that there is no good reason to support Hillary Clinton other than because she is a woman. She has far less meaningful experience than Barack Obama, and is on the wrong side of virtually every issue I, and many liberal bloggers, care about. If Hillary Clinton was either a man, or not married to Bill Clinton, she would not be taken seriously as a candidate. In order to be successful, a woman candidate must be able to provide a real reason to support her beyond the belief that her victory is inevitable, and certainly beyond the fact that she is a woman.

The article is pessimistic about another woman being in the wings but the key might be in their caveat that Barack Obama came out of nowhere to win the nomination. Similarly previous Democratic candidates such as Jimmy Carter and even Bill Clinton came out of nowhere to win. It is possible that a woman who is not being considered today might be the Democratic nominee to succeed Barack Obama as president in eight years.

This nomination battle is often viewed based upon making history with a black or woman candidate. Looking at this race as a loss for a woman candidate misses the fact that in many ways this nomination falls within traditional patterns.

Many Democratic battles are between the establishment candidate and an insurgent candidate. This year certainly falls into that trend, except for providing a different outcome than usual. In most years Clinton would have won as the establishment candidate. This year Clinton did more poorly than the typical establishment candidate not because she is a woman but because she was a flawed candidate, both in terms of her personal ethics and in terms of lacking a plan beyond Super Tuesday. Obama won because of having a better strategy, having the advantages of the internet which were not present in most past elections, and due to creating a coalition including those of us who typically support the insurgent candidate and black voters.

Another typical division in the Democratic Party is based upon two different interpretations of liberalism. There are those of us who are more concerned with reform of government, social issues, and defending civil liberties. Others concentrate more upon economic issues, creating the unfortunate situation where liberalism has been tainted as supporting “tax and spend” policies. There is also a definite overlap between the two groups, making the division less obvious. Young voters, as well as the increasing number of affluent, educated individuals recently voting Democratic, tend fall more in the first group. By not only winning this support but by bringing in many new voters, Obama has built an advantage over Clinton. I believe that both economic realities and demographic changes will also give such reform liberals the advantage in the future.

A successful woman candidate is more likely to represent such liberals, not dismiss us as “elitists” and cling to outdated concepts of big government and the Nanny State. One of several reasons Clinton has not won the nomination is that conservative populists such as her have fallen out of step with the times. Conservative populists are unlikely to win regardless of gender, explaining the losses of both Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.

For those who desire a woman president, there is one consolation in all of this. In coming very close to winning the nomination despite her major flaws, she has showed that victory is possible for a woman. If Clinton had run with a coherent election strategy, had refrained from resorting to Rove-style dirty politics, and was not on the wrong side of so many issues, she might have won. Most opposing her are doing so not because they do not want a woman president but because they do not want that particular woman. Clinton has opened the door for future woman candidates, but they will have to win based upon their own qualifications and positions, not based upon their gender.


  1. 1
    Lyn Alexander says:

    This is a post that I made on my site. It points out some of the flaws made in Mrs. Clinton’s campaign!!!
    Hillary…Give It Up and Turn It Loose!!!
    As we all breathe a collective sigh of frustration watching Hillary Clinton continue her sorry campaign one has to wonder… why one of her ‘people,’ ‘supporters,’ or HUSBAND doesn’t just tell her the truth? It’s over! We all know that the only reason she pulled out her checkbook and wrote herself a check for over $6 million dollars instead of admitting defeat is because for her, for the Clintons, the idea of admitting defeat to a Black man is unheard of and downright NOT GONNA HAPPEN!

    We’ve all heard the argument Hillary has made for forging down this dead end road. She appeals more to the, ‘hardworking Americans, White Americans!’ and how Barack Obama is an ‘Elitist!’ After I picked my JAW OFF OF THE FLOOR and WIPED THE TEARS OF LAUGHTER from my eyes, I shook my head in amazement! To say a Black man in this country an elitist has as much validity as me taking my broom outside, hopping on top of it, closing my eyes, and trying to visualize my destination in a hope I can fly there as a reasonable alternative to dealing with the airlines and their foolishness.

    Furthermore, I’m not sure if Hillary realized this but…(probably not since she had the ability to whip out her check book and keep her campaign afloat with a 7 figure loan. While Barack Obama JUST PAID OFF HIS STUDENT LOANS!!!) The man’s name is Barack…now of course it has begun to work for him, but I am sure back in the day….that was the same thing as putting, “Quita” on a resume!!! No offense to any of my lovely sistas who have that name, but I know you know what I am talking about. There is a HUGE difference between Hillary and Barack! We haven’t even gotten to what happens when the man tries to catch a cab vs. the cabs lining up for her. LOL ok ok I’ll get serious….

    Here is THA TRUTH, with the state that our country is in, Barack simply understands what America needs right now. With gas at $4.00/gallon or IOW costing as much as the car itself, families losing their homes on a daily basis, the options for financing education dwindling, more and more ‘HARD WORKING AMERICANS’ having to choose between food and gas, food and medicine, food and electricity etc. We cannot have a president that has no idea what any of the aforementioned means. Anytime someone can take out a checkbook and write a check for 7 figures for no other reason than her being a SORE LOSER…I really don’t want her having the ability to assist in doling out taxes, creating a budget, or working on the deficit. We’ve already seen what happens when you elect someone who thought education was optional and who instead said, ‘Down with hope up with Dope! Let’s not do that again!!!!!

  2. 2
    Susan Mix says:

    A woman candidate who is not the wife of a dead or retired governor or president just would say “ability” a little more convincingly.

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