Hilary Clinton will be, and should be, the next President of the United States of America. This is not an astute political analysis made at the last moment after painstaking study during the past few months. Nor is it an astrological prophecy, since I am neither a political analyst nor an astrologer. Nor is this a sudden decision made just two days before the election after much wrangling. It’s simply that historically, the time has come when the US should elect a woman as President, and that was the way I felt six months ago when her campaign looked quite shaky.
There are such historic moments in every country. The US, along with Russia, Japan and China among the world’s leading nations is lagging behind the rest of the world in this context. Five American women have tried for the top job before Clinton. None of them even got close to winning. Their details are given at the end of this article. Like African-American Barack Obama becoming US President, Clinton’s win would answer a historical need. If she fails, it would be a long, long time before any other American woman would have a chance, just as we have to wait for quite a long time to see another African-American as the head of the US after Obama.
A moment in history is not the same as a historic opportunity. That Hilary Clinton stands now prominently at a decisive moment in history does not mean her victory is inevitable. But it will give the US a chance to try and catch up with the rest of the world. Voters would go the polls with other issues in mind, but the votes they cast can’t be considered as just Clinton vs Trump or Democrat vs Republican trivia. They will be voting unconsciously for a less misogynistic society which made possible the creation of a strong presidential contender who obviously enjoys groping attractive women and has been able to get away with it so far. A New York Times women journalist who reported on the high incidence of rape in New Delhi said that Indians have a misogynistic society. She can call her own society that in the same breath considering the rate of sexual abuse in American campuses and the military.
Electing Clinton as President would not change the US overnight. But it would lay the basis for change, which would be slow and difficult. Electing women as national leaders doesn’t automatically improve the lot of women, but the psychological impact is profound.
Elsewhere in the world, women presidents and prime ministers are a common sight. Europe can boast of nine such women in power now or during the past decade. Asia currently has or has had women Presidents or Prime Ministers in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea and the Philippines (including Aung Sang Syu Ki who effectively runs the government though legally prevented from the top job). Liberia, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, the Central African Republic and Jamaica too, have women handling the top job. The US considers itself a world leader in this regard but lags behind pathetically in this context. But now the time has finally come.
Since 1872, five women have run for the presidency. In 1872, Victory Woodhull of the Equal Rights Party campaigned on a platform of universal suffrage, political reform, civil rights and social welfare, and she did so nearly 50 years before women were allowed to vote in presidential elections. Her running mate was Frederick Douglas who became the first Afro-American to be nominated for the vice presidency. She won few votes and was arrested shortly before the election on obscenity charges for exposing an affair between a powerful minister and a parishioner.
Next, Gracie Allen ran on behalf of the Surprise Party. The third candidate, Shirley Chisholm, was an experienced politician who made history as the first African-American woman elected
Also running in the same year was Linda Jenness of the Socialist Workers’ Party, a Secretary from Atlanta, sharing the nomination with Evelyn Reed. Jenness predicted her own defeat.
In 2012, Jill Stein of the Green Party ran what is the considered to be the most successful campaign by a woman candidate till then on a platform of green jobs and environmental protection.
Hilary Clinton, a former Secretary of State and wife of a very successful former President Bill, is better poised than any of the above mentioned to win the presidency, and she should because the time for that is now right.