Copyright © 2003 Henrietta W. Hay
Margaret for President!
October 3, 2003
I have an interesting collection of T shirts. In a way they represent
the current history of feminism. One of my favorites has a picture of
Margaret, the ambitious little girl in the comic strip Dennis the
Menace, waving her arms and saying, "Some day a woman will be
president." That was the design that a southern Wal Mart store pulled
from their shelves in 1995 because one customer complained that, "It
goes against family values." That made me so mad that I immediately
ordered the shirt from the designer in Florida.
With 54% of the population female, "Someday a woman will be president"
is an idea whose time is here -- well, almost. This week there was a
feature story by Gwen Florio in the Denver Post entitled, "What would it
take to elect a woman president?"
OK, what would it take to have a woman president? Money and power and
a lot more media coverage are vital. Intelligence would be nice, but
experience shows that it is not essential. A lowering of the
testosterone level in America would be a definite aid. And we need a
major change in the way of thinking about politics -- a change which has
been taking place all too slowly through the years. Women need
experience in governing, and at last they are getting it. The talent
pool of women in politics is now increasing rapidly. in 2003 there were
1641 women in state legislatures, 400 of them in State Senates.
Back in February, 1983, Ellen Goodman wrote a column called "A profile
of the nation's first woman," which asked, "What about the possibility
of a First Woman in the White House instead of a First Lady?" This was
early in the new feminist movement and such an idea still brought a
hearty laugh to the good old boys.
Goodman quoted a great deal from a book by Elizabeth Janeway. First of
all, she said, the woman would be elevated from the vice presidency,
which she had been "given for balance." She would need to be married to
a healthy, non-henpecked husband, neither a wimp nor a hanger-on and
probably a lawyer. She should have a couple of post adolescent children
and probably a dog. She would probably be a (sob) conservative
Republican, although a Conservative Republican in 1983 would not be
recongnizable in 2003.
There have been several highly competent women who have come close to
the nomination, including Victoria Chaflin Woodhull in 1872,
who was a candidate for the Equal Rights party.
Senator Margaret Chase Smith lost to Richard Nixon in 1964.
Bella Abzug was a candidate for the Democratic nomination in 1972. She
withdrew, but would really have stirred things up. Shirley Chisholm,
the first black member of the House Representatives very nearly became
the Democratic candidate that year.
Elizabeth Dole withdrew for lack of funding in 1999, but was later
One of the most outstanding candidates was Patricia Schroeder, who
withdrew in 1984 She had served 24 years in the House of
Representatives and is highly intelligent and experienced in government.
The first woman actually to appear on the ballot was Geraldine Ferraro,
who ran as vice-president with Walter Mondale.
Today we have thirteen women in the Senate and 60 in the House. That's
a good place to start looking for nominees. I'd like to have a T shirt
with the name of any of these women: Speaker of the House Nancy
Pelosi, current nominee Carol Moseley Braun, Senators Patty Murray,
Mary Landrieu, Diane Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, Olympia Snow or 20 or 30
more highly qualified women, incuding Hillary, of course. And I'd
like one with Pat Schroeder's name on it.
Ferraro says that "We will see a woman run for president by 2008 if not
sooner." I hope she is right. In any case I am with Maragaret.
"Someday a woman will be president."
And Hillary's "no in 2004" is still kind of wobbly.