After much conflict, women won the right to vote with the passage of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution on August 26, 1920. A logical conclusion might be that today—88 years later—when women are the majority of voters, they would overwhelmingly and automatically vote for other women.
After all, another women would share one’s perspective, embrace her priorities, understand her mood swings and even share a chocolate martini should the occasion call for it.
Of course if this were true, it would badly skew the gender balance of all publicly elected bodies, losing the very diversity of perspective that proponents of gender equity seek. Just as a presidential cabinet on campus should contain a diverse mixture of voices, so should the ranks of our elected officials.
An anti-suffrage movement argued that women didn’t want to vote, and they were probably too dumb to do it anyway. Suffragist writer Alice Duer Miller used humor to turn around the traditional accusations against women by citing men’s parallel imperfections in this 1915 piece. ( http://womenshistory.about.com)
Why We Don’t Want Men to Vote
- Because man’s place is in the army.
- Because no really manly man wants to settle any question otherwise than by fighting about it.
- Because if men should adopt peaceable methods women will no longer look up to them.
- Because men will lose their charm if they step out of their natural sphere and interest themselves in other matters than feats of arms, uniforms and drums.
- Because men are too emotional to vote. Their conduct at baseball games and political conventions shows this, while their innate tendency to appeal to force renders them unfit for government.
Her ideas inspired me to consider some results if women voted as a block and elected the first woman President.
Advantages of a woman president
• War would be the last resort, not a viable option in pursuit of a questionable goal. Women seek peace, not war. Every mother hearing of the death of a U.S. soldier killed in a war of aggression thinks it could have been her daughter or son lying in that plastic body bag, which she would seek to avoid at all cost.
• More money would be spent on education than on prisons. It doesn’t take an economist to conclude that money spent in incarceration is an expense, while that spent on education and prevention is an investment. Which is the wiser long-term solution? And what tilted playing field is creating the imbalance in the first place?
• Universal health care would be available. Today’s hodge-podge of federal, state, private and employer-funded health care is inefficient and leaves one third of the population unprotected and vulnerable to potential devastation. How can we ask anyone to risk their life each day unsure of whether someone’s got their back?
• A woman would never permit ketchup to be classified as a vegetable, no matter how it neatly filled the nutritional value of the school lunch program. The ketchup bottle simply doesn’t fit well in the vegetable drawer.
• Quality childcare would be universally available at no cost. If “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world,” then that hand will need a little help when both the baby and the problems of the world are bawling for attention at the same time.
• Every public and private building would be equipped with either totally gender-neutral restrooms, or the allot-ment of single-sex rooms would be proportional to the ratio of the sexes using them. No more long lines at the women’s restrooms while men get to take care of business.
• Seeing women as powerful role models, other women would ask themselves, “Why not?” Former Vermont governor Madeline M. Kunin recently wrote in a guest column in the Madison WI Capital Times, “Electing women is contagious. The more you see, the more you get.” She noted that the states with two female senators—Washington, California and Maine—have a larger than average number of women in their congressional delegations and a higher percentage of women in their state legislatures. Iowa and Mississippi have never elected a woman to Congress or to their governor’s office. Kunin listed states’ ranking in percentage of women in their state legislatures, as a preview of how their voters might support a female candidate for President. Her own state of Vermont heads the list.
- Vermont 37.8%
- New Hampshire 35.8
- Nevada 30.2
- Florida 23.1
- Iowa 22.7
- South Carolina 8.8
No wonder that even though 57% of voters were women in both Iowa and New Hampshire primary elections, only 35% of Iowa women backed Clinton compared with 46% in New Hampshire, where women are used to seeing women in power as politicians.
• Intuition, gut feeling, ESP and other non-Western forms of knowledge would be valued, not just the linear thought pattern currently in vogue. Those out of tune with their “sixth sense” would be considered 17% disabled and eligible for complimentary training. Whether or not Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton becomes the Democratic candidate for President in the fall election, and whether or not she becomes the first U.S. Madame President, the election process is certainly revealing a multi-faceted response to the question of whether this country is ready for a female president.
Some parts of the country and some demographics of voters clearly are more ready than others to embrace the di-versity that women bring to the political process in terms of leadership styles, ideas, values and priorities.
Let’s hope that 88 years after women finally won the right to vote, they will use it to get the last laugh.
Mary Dee Wenniger