When will it be time for a female President?

I have often wondered! When President Obama won the elections in 2008 and 2012, did those elections paved the way for America to accept a female President in 2016, specifically Hillary Clinton? Or is my white, male privilege lens skewed to far out-of-whack to entertain this conversation…this thought process?

I have a daughter and I firmly believe she is growing up in a time when the notion of a female president is going to move far beyond the mainstream, a time in American history that will pave the way for that commonplace. During the 2010 campaign, there was a poster released from the Obama for America camp that read this:

“We must carry forward the work of the women who came before us, ensure our daughters have no limits on their dreams, no obstacles to their achievements, and not remaining ceilings to shatter.”

When I shared this quote with a close family member, they emphatically applauded; but when I shared who spoke this quote…enthusiasm shifted quickly into a tone of justification, convincing themselves it is ok to support a democratic sitting president who supports their beliefs.

This quote was from the Presidential Proclamation during Women’s History Month in 2011.

One of my closest friends have a debate, one that began over a few beers in 2008 after President Obama was elected. He looked at me and said, “you voted for him because he is black.” I immediately disregarded that notion as I shared my thoughts on policy and the need for a new approach given the current economic situation. But the more I have evolved over time, becoming more of a student of politics and public policy…I began to realize many of President Obama’s policies aligned with many of my beliefs and hopes for America.

Many of my closest friends, mentors, colleagues discount this thought process. Even question my ability to see a brighter, more prosperous America. But is that America their America, or is my vision of tomorrow so different only party lines divide us?

Now…I have you know I vote for the candidate and not straight party ticket. I voted for President George W Bush, President Bill Clinton, and many other Republican, Democratic, Independents, and even Libertarian candidates across the whole ballot. So this lays the context for my next statement…yes, one of the many reasons I voted for President Barack Obama twice was because he is black. And guess what, there is nothing wrong with that. We needed to see diverse representation in leadership and it goes back to a project I worked on a few years ago.

I was called by Clemson University to help document a story, one of tremendous vision. In 2010, I was hired by the Call Me MISTER program to capture and document the story for their ten year anniversary. The vision of the Call Me Mister Program is very simple, to empower and educate young black men to become elementary school teachers in South Carolina. Why? Because we need more young black and white children to see black men in leadership…roles beyond football, basketball, and hip-hop.

So many people believed in this mission, one that transcends politics and race. It was this journey, interviewing so many foundational leaders across North Carolina and South Carolina ranging from Doris Buffett, leaders of the Wachovia Foundation, and numerous others sharing their vision of a brighter tomorrow. It was this experience that helped me realize that we as American’s need to experience a diverse leadership for a brighter tomorrow.

Bottomline…America needed a black man in the White House and American needs a woman in the White House. It is time for a diverse approach to leadership and there is nothing wrong with considering this simple notion.

President Ronald Reagan was a wonderful leader and two-term President and so was, President George H. Bush, President Bill Clinton, President George W. Bush, and President Barak Obama. If you look across the spectrum, there are wonderful people from both parties that would be wonderful Presidents including Governor John Kasich, Governor Jeb Bush, Governor Chris Christie, Senator Rand Paul, Senator Bernie Sanders, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. All of which would serve our wonderful nation well.

But…the question still remains…is America ready for a female President? And are we more ready given a black man opened our eyes to more diverse opportunities. Did a black president help shatter the glass ceiling for a Hillary Clinton, Governor Nikki Haley, Senator Elizabeth Warren, or many others accomplished ladies who are positioned to lead this nation? Or…how would our attitudes and dispositions change with a female President before a black President?

Regardless of what you say or how you defend your voting…I firmly believe visual cues drive perception of a leader. How they are dressed, color of their skin. gender, hair style, short, tall, and especially ethnicity drives how we choose our leaders.

Interesting article from The Guarding in 2012 shares:

“Researchers found that the effect of a more competent look amounted to a vote swing of 13%. What’s more, when the subjects were later asked about their reasons for voting as they did, they denied having taken the candidates’ appearance into account. They may have consciously registered the candidates’ appearance, but felt – wrongly – that they could disregard that, and make a purely rational decision based solely on the substance of the candidates’ positions.”

But…I want to leave you with this from Jessica Valenti:

“When it comes to women in politics, the United States is pretty much the pits. Women make up half the population in this country but hold less than 20% of congressional seats and comprise less than 25% of state legislators. The numbers for women of color are even more dismal.

On the world stage, the US ranks 72nd in women’s political participation, far worse than most industrialized countries – and with numbers similar to Saudi Arabia’s. A United Nations working group late last year called attention to this disparity in a report that found massive discrimination against women across the board, an “overall picture of women’s missing rights”.

And so it seems strange that at a time when the country has the opportunity to elect the first female president, the idea that gender might be a factor is considered shallow in some circles.”

Imagine what a female in the White House could represent for all the Rosebud’s in the world? At some point…it will happen, whether in 2016 or the distant future. But, when it does…I look forward to helping Rose write her first letter to the White House.