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Sally C. Pipes - Contributor
[Courtesty of Pacific Research Institute]

Sally C. Pipes is President and CEO, Pacific Research Institute [go to Pipes index]

Missing in Action: A Female Candidate
A PC world onto itself...
[Sally C. Pipes] 10/6/04

The presidential election of 2004 is upon us, with incumbent George Bush squaring off against challenger John Kerry. The issues have been Iraq, Vietnam, swift boats and the National Guard, not the absence of a woman on the ticket, on either side. That absence has drawn few complaints but is a subject worth pondering.

Twenty years ago, in 1984, Geraldine Ferraro was the first woman nominated by a major political party as its candidate for vice president of the United States. Angela Davis, it might be recalled, ran for vice president with the Communist Party of the United States in 1980 and 1984, with Gus Hall at the top of the ticket.

The presence of Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 brought choruses of "it's about time" from feminists, along with polemics about men as the problem in politics, and predications of greater days ahead with women at the helm. That would be due to women's allegedly superior sensitivity and insight.

The National Women's Hall of Fame (see, into which Ferraro was inducted in 1994, explains that while the Mondale-Ferraro ticket lost, her candidacy "forever reshaped the American political and social landscape." Two decades later, it's hard to see how.

Women were already prominent in American politics, business, academia and entertainment. Aside from Ferraro's merits or demerits, a female candidate for high office was probably overdue and a welcome development. But since 1984 neither major party has advanced a woman for president or vice president. In 1988, Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis opted for Lloyd Bentsen, a ticket that shared the same fate as Mondale-Ferraro. Voters apparently do not discriminate on the basis of gender.

Geraldine Ferraro makes frequent appearances on television but is no longer a contender. Angela Davis is now holding forth at the University of California at Santa Cruz and always described in the press not as a failed Communist vice-presidential candidate but a "social activist." Of course, the Communist Party she aspired to lead has practically ceased to exist, some 70 years too late.

Nationwide the prospects for another major-party female candidate for vice president, let alone president, seem rather slim pickings. The most likely prospect is Hillary Clinton, now conveniently a junior senator from New York. She denies seeking the presidency, but as one wag put it, never believe anything until it's been officially denied.

It can be argued, of course, that the energetic Hillary has already served two terms as co-president. One can imagine the uproar if Ronald Reagan had in 1980 placed Nancy in charge of reforming Medicare or Social Security.

On the international scene, the record of women as national leaders is decidedly mixed. Current conditions make the rise of Benazir Bhutto to prime minister in Pakistan, and first female national leader in the Muslim world, seem almost miraculous. Margaret Thatcher turned around an ailing nation, and brooked no nonsense from an Argentine military junta. Rather different is the behavior of Gloria Arroyo of the Philippines, who caved in to kidnappers and pulled Philippine troops out of Iraq.

One can't imagine Lady Thatcher doing such a thing. Nor Jeanne Kirkpatrick, who certainly never backed down from anti-American bullies at the U.N. Jeanne Kirpatrick is not, by the way, in the National Women's Hall of Fame. But tennis player Billy Jean King is member, and of course feminist celebrity Betty Friedan.

Regardless of actual merit, a place on the honor roll is doubtless reserved for the first woman actually elected vice-president, or president. That may happen, perhaps even before we have a male senator in California. CRO

copyright 2004 Pacific Research Institute




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