It is fascinating to read the columns about whether Hillary should or shouldn't, will or won't, use gender as an issue in her potential presidential campaign. Clearly this is striking a major chord with the press, but they are way behind the populace.
Meryl Streep's response to Patricia Arquette's acceptance speech at the Oscars, where the latter said, "It's our time to have wage equality and equal rights for women once and for all," was uploaded by Mashable and has already received more than 4 million views. Clearly people across the nation responded. Some reporters have caught on, yet the general population seems ready for a competent woman president.
Voters have always known Hillary Clinton is a woman, and reporters back in 1992 were debating whether she was a feminist, whatever their definition of the word is. But voters, whether they answer polls about how it impacts their vote or doesn't, appear ready to take Hillary at face value. The issue of whether Hillary in 2008 decided to make it the centerpiece of her campaign or not doesn't concern them. In 2008 there was a chance for two firsts, and voters determined it would be an African-American man they would elect. In some ways that's not surprising. If we look at history, we have seen that the rights of African Americans were added to the Constitution while women's rights were not.
After Obama won, Hillary did what women have always done: She supported a man for president and willingly used her celebrity, intelligence and abilities to help him. So today, when reporters are falling all over themselves writing about Hillary using being a woman to win the presidency, they are missing something. Hillary has always been the same highly qualified woman she is today. Now people are ready to vote for a woman with the qualifications Hillary has. She has been tested. They know all about Hillary. She has been in the public eye for decades, and every time the press and Republicans try to tear her down, she comes back, because the people know and respect her. They understand she is the best-prepared candidate, man or woman, to be our next president.
Reporters forget that on Sept. 5, 1995, Hillary Clinton spoke to the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing and said:
This is truly a celebration -- a celebration of the contributions women make in every aspect of life: in the home, on the job, in their communities, as mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, learners, workers, citizens and leaders. We are here to find common ground so that we may help bring new dignity and respect to women and girls all over the world -- and in so doing, bring new strength and stability to families as well.
She ended her speech with the words:
As long as discrimination and inequities remain so commonplace around the world -- as long as girls and women are valued less, fed less, fed last, overworked, underpaid, not schooled and subjected to violence in and out of their homes -- the potential of the human family to create a peaceful, prosperous world will not be realized.
I think the discussion of how to use gender in a 2016 presidential campaign is for the benefit of reporters who have forgotten those words, who have forgotten Hillary Clinton has always spoken out for the needs and values of women. The voters haven't forgotten. According to Gallup, for the 13th time in a row, Hillary Clinton is the most admired woman in the world.
[R]ather than the assertive feminism associated with her years as first lady, Mrs. Clinton's campaign message will be subtler. It will involve frequent references to being a mother and grandmother and to how her family has inspired her to embrace policies that she believes would help middle-class families.
They all come to the same conclusion: Hillary is a woman, and the voters recognize it. Wow, a real wake-up call, but for whom?
Hillary is a woman I have respected and admired since first meeting her in Little Rock in 1990. She is brilliant and never once shied away from speaking out for women. But over the years she watched as the country didn't pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and didn't do nearly enough to guarantee women's equality. Today she stands ready to try to change that by example. She will be elected, and women and girls around the world will see a woman lead the most powerful nation on Earth. She won't be elected because she is a woman; that is just an added benefit. She will be elected the 45th president of the United States of America because she is the most qualified person for the job. Like so many women she's had to work harder and do more to earn that respect than any man ever did. But it is her time, and it's past time for all women to make their mark along with her.