How could news of President Obama's first significant lead of the 2012 campaign in the nation's dozen top battleground states bring hope and change to Mitt Romney? It is a lead based on women voters -- one of Obama's biggest soft spots. Romney has the potential to gain a key political advantage by selecting one of several standout Republican women who would make excellent vice presidential candidates and attract the "woman's vote," which, contrary to the myth perpetuated by Democrats, is increasingly up for grabs.
The list includes New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (vice chair of the Republican Conference), Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, and former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.
2012 can be the year where we finally break the glass ceiling in our highest political offices by electing a ticket with a woman vice president.
For the Republicans who currently struggle with lagging poll numbers with women, a woman on the ticket would erase many of their difficulties. Not that women will always vote for women, but a woman on the ticket would energize voters and claim ground Democrats have taken advantage of for too long. Who knows, it may even force Obama to ask Hillary Clinton to join him on the ticket after showing such strong leadership as Secretary of State.
Reasons people give to not nominate a woman in 2012 are weak. The first reason always given is that women are simply not qualified. The lineup of women mentioned above have sterling qualifications. Any man with the same resumes would run and not be questioned.
The second reason is what I like to call the "Palin reason," as in "well we tried that in 2008 and it didn't work so we won't do that again." That reasoning is insulting bordering on sexist. We nominate many men to many things and many times things don't work out. Does that make us not nominate another man next time? It's truly an absurd argument. Also, an equal case can be credibly made that Sarah Palin helped the ticket more than she hurt it.
We have the opportunity to join our international friends who understand the kind of leadership that women can provide, representing 51 percent of the population after all. Currently the United States lags much of the world in female representation in government. The latest survey from the Inter-Parliamentary Union ranks our country #78, tied with Turkmenistan and behind Iraq (#38), Afghanistan (#33) and the home of machismo itself, Spain (#18).
We only need to look at the effectiveness of Senators Olympia Snowe, Barbara Mikulski, Kirsten Gillibrand and Lisa Murkowski -- a bipartisan group of leaders who created a "zone of civility" and cooperation to actually get something done on behalf of the American people. This is what America can look forward to with more women in political leadership positions. This is what should finally convince political operatives that the knee jerk demeaning of women has jumped the shark and lost its value. It is a dog that just won't hunt this year.
We have an opportunity to really make history in 2012. Both parties need to step up to the plate and nominate a woman VP. We tell our daughters, granddaughters, nieces, etc., that they can be anything they want to be. But with the U.S. ranking #78 in the world in female representation in government and with most glass ceilings remaining unbroken, we aren't really telling them the truth. Putting one of these excellent women on the ticket would change all of that. Let's be bold in 2012 and finish what we started in 2008.
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