Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership

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Posted by wende at 4th April, 2011

Geraldine Ferraro, who famously said, “sometimes the best leader is a woman” was not the first female to run for the presidency of the USA. Victoria Woodhull was. But Ferraro, like Woodhull, was a fighter, a woman who clearly saw the obstacles placed before talented, ambitious women and the sexism that made women who sought power laughing stocks in a world run by pompous male pundits and corrupt male politicians.

Victoria Woodhull was nominated for President of the United States by the newly formed Equal Rights Party on May 10, 1872. A year before, she’d announced her intention to run. In 1871, she spoke vehemently against a government composed only of men and proposed a new constitution and a new government that gave women political rights. Her nomination was ratified at the convention on June 6, 1872. Former slave Frederick Douglass was nominated for Vice President.

Many, not all, historians and authors agree that Woodhull was the first woman to run for President of the United States. As usual with women and African-Americans, historians quibble over “legality.” White men are always “legal.”

Geraldine Ferraro would have been an excellent president, I think. But she was defeated, not through any fault of her own, but because the man she married was less than honest in his business dealings. Tarred with the same brush, cursed with an Italian name that in those benighted days—suggested mob connections–Ferraro suffered for her husband’s malfeasances. She also suffered the prejudice against Italian-Americans that should have been laid to rest decades before.

Let’s face it–woman politicians still have a tough time. Hillary Clinton was attacked for Bill Clinton’s failings—his SEXUAL TRANSGRESSIONS in particular. When women win, men are presumed to be their puppet-masters. When they lose, they themselves are blamed. Only the right wingnuts–Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin, and their ilk escape this smear–though Palin protests constantly that it is not her ignorance of public affairs and unfitness for public service that dooms her but the liberal press.

What liberal press? I wonder. The corporate press seems pretty tepid to me. We get naked babes, kidnapped babies and little investigative reporting. The corporate press is often a disgrace to democracy. It seeks eyeballs above excellence, popularity above proof. The internet has made this worse, I think.

I am so sick of opinions; give me facts! Does every blogger have to parade his/her prejudices? Where are the facts we need to make good decisions. Is everything part of the eternal spin cycle?

Our first woman President will probably come from the far right–as in the UK. The scolding nanny right-winger gets less flak than the reasonable, pro-choice female candidate. Why is this, I wonder? Are we afraid of liberal women while the tough cookies of the right somehow reassure us?

I would vote for Oprah or Gloria Steinem or Hillary Clinton or Arianna Huffington or Katrina vanden Heuvel as our first female President–but alas, it’s more likely to be some no-choice, Bible-thumping babe, speaking in tongues (and pretending to adore her special needs child before dumping him with a sibling). She’s as yet unknown to us–but believe me, she’s waiting in the wings.

The USA is a strange country–liberal on the coasts and in the center, but Bible Belt and gun-crazy elsewhere. It’s amazing that we even keep our union together. So the Bible-thumping babes reassure the middle of the road electorate, while female progressives make people think of “Red Emma”–Goldman, I mean. Remember that she got deported.

And women didn’t even get the vote till 1920.

Eleanor Roosevelt, our first civil rights First Lady, was way ahead of her husband in progressive thinking. What did she get for it? Cruel ridicule!

America is a centrist country–but it seems to give free rein to reactionary women.

Do they somehow remind us of Mary Poppins? Or the English Nanny on TV? Palin and Bachmann may be too crazy for prime time, but they’ll have a savvier successor who’ll run for president and win.

I would love to be proven wrong on this prediction.

copyright  erica mann jong 2011

About wende

Wende Jager-Hyman has written 5 articles on this blog.

Category : News

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