It’s often easier to see the flaws in others than to see our own, so I shouldn’t have been surprised to find I had given myself a pass on one of my own. I realize, despite the lip service I had paid it, that I had never really given gender equality the consideration it deserved. I didn’t have to. As an older white male, I had a regular seat at the table.
So, last week when President Trump was shown in the rose garden of the White House with a group of grinning, back-slapping, white men and a case of Bud Light to celebrate passage of the House of Representative’s newest Obamacare replacement it was a gut check and stunning throwback to an earlier time. That picture was worth a thousand words.
I was startled to see it, and it cast in stark relief the abrupt transition from the thoughtful, bright, compassionate multi-racial presidency of Barack Obama to the misogynistic, greedy, self-congratulating white one of Donald Trump. I’m not interested in re-litigating the election. It’s over… at least the election part is and until the fumble bums in Congress and the FBI get their acts together to peel back the feckless, treasonous behavior of the Trump team that part is history.
No doubt about it, Hillary Clinton was a flawed candidate but her absence has left a noticeable void. Something is missing, something we need for balance – strong women, smart women who can influence policy, capable women in positions of power, decisive women with perspective, and just maybe one in the White House.*
*(Footnote: Ivanka doesn’t count and neither do Melania’s conjugal visits.)
America should be embarrassed to have chosen an ignorant, inexperienced man over a smart, experienced woman. Venus must be retrograde.
On Monday, Condoleezza Rice appeared as a guest on Morning Joe, the MSNBC political show to promote her new book, Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom.
The timing and subject matter were uncanny. Against the backdrop of a fumbling new administration, it was obvious that “the long road to freedom” had just gotten longer, but here was an experienced political operative who also happened to be a black woman, a former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State, and a committed Republican. When asked by host, Joe Scarborough, “What do you think the most important quality a person can bring to the presidency,” this woman, who served two presidents, said without hesitation, “honesty.” They should have ended the interview right there. Oh, to know what she really thinks about Trump’s reckless disregard for the truth?
During the interview I couldn’t help but look back to earlier administrations where bright, patriotic women like Ms. Rice played important roles at the highest levels of government. Hillary Clinton did not succeed in breaking the glass ceiling to become our first woman president but she, Madelaine Albright, and Condoleezza all served America with distinction at the highest levels. It took almost 200 years for them to get there, but all three acted honorably and with dignity as our representatives on the global stage.
I don’t have a candidate in mind but I think it’s time we gave the nuclear codes to a woman. There’s too much testosterone in American government. Tomahawk missiles into Syria. Talk of war with a nuclear North Korea. More American troops to Afghanistan. As the old saying goes, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” It’s very male.
How is it that among developed countries America is one of the few that has never had a woman leader? From Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher, and Indira Gandhi to Angela Merkel women have provided strong political leadership where they have been given the opportunity. What’s holding us back? I didn’t want Hillary but why is it we don’t have a deep bench of strong women leaders?
I wasn’t a fan of Dr. Rice’s when she was in government because of her association with the George Bush presidency. I questioned her attachment to such a flawed president but never doubted her intelligence and understanding of geopolitics. I wouldn’t hesitate to give her the job today. There is much to admire. In addition to her tenures as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State, she’s a teacher, a writer, a Russian expert, and a fluent French and Russian speaker. On top of that, she’s an accomplished figure skater and classical pianist who loves football and once described being NFL Commissioner as her dream job. It’s hard to find a flaw. So…
Let’s say no to the old boys’ network. I grew up looking at America through rose colored glasses, proud and patriotic, insensitive to my own privilege but believing that elected officials did what was right for the majority of their constituents. I was naive, but I believed with John Stuart Mill and the Utilitarians that “The greatest happiness of the greatest number is the foundation of morals and legislation.” I still believe that part and I don’t want to stop believing it. Let’s find some leaders who also believe it, and let’s make sure that we seek the wisdom of women when we do.