By Maxine Todd, NOW PAC Intern
As a young woman, I am extremely excited to have the opportunity to elect the first woman president. It is wonderful to see a candidate who I know has personally experienced the same problems and faces the same concerns that I have, as a woman in the U.S. While watching the Democratic Presidential Debate last week, it was well into the second half before any of the male candidates discussed equal pay. In glaring contrast Hillary Clinton discussed pay inequality in her opening statement and was the only candidate that raised the issue of safeguarding reproductive rights. Isn’t it time we had a leader who cares about 51% of the population not because we are “mothers and daughters and sisters” but because we are humans? As Hillary famously said in Beijing in 1995, “human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights.” It’s time we had a leader who acted like that was true.
One of my favorite moments in the debate was when Secretary Clinton said “I’m a progressive. But I like to get things done.” It was my favorite moment for two reasons. The first is because research supports the idea that women are actually more likely to get things done in U.S. politics than their male counterparts. This research looked primarily at the Senate, and found that since 2009, Senators who were women introduced more bills, had more bills moved out of committee and had more bills enacted than their male counterparts. They were also more bipartisan and were the ones who got us out of the government shutdown in 2013. There is even research that reached the same conclusions when studying the more than 30 years prior to 2009, from 1973-2008. Imagine all that could get done not only with a woman in the White House, but a woman who knows how to get legislation passed and isn’t afraid to work with people to make it happen.
The second reason this statement resonated with me is because it addressed something that not many people are willing to talk about- in politics you need to be pragmatic. Every candidate wants to promise their voters that, if elected, they will achieve broad goals and make all of their dreams come true. Sadly, having nice dreams and having a plausible path to making those dreams a reality sometimes don’t go hand in hand. Secretary Clinton has a long, documented history of getting things done in the political arena. Even as First Lady she was able to play a vital role in passing legislation, especially evident in getting the White House to create the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and fund it at $24 billion rather than the House proposed $16 billion.
One thing I would have liked to have heard last Tuesday would have been an addition to one of Secretary Clinton’s responses. At one point she said that if she becomes the first woman president, dads will finally be able to look at their daughters and tell them they can be president one day too. I would have added “and actually have them believe that.” Back in the mid-90s my parents told me I could be anything, even president, but I can still remember being in elementary school learning about the presidents and society and realizing with a sinking feeling that it wasn’t necessarily true. I could be president, it just wasn’t likely because society still seems to believe that men are better leaders and women don’t have the experience or the emotional control necessary to be president. There are many reasons I’m excited to have the opportunity to elect the first president who is a woman, including so that future generations of girls can see that they really can be anything.