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September/October 2019

The most misogynist president ever lit a match under the women of America. What an extraordinary time it has been for women running for office these last 2 1/2 years. The fact that the US presidential campaign currently includes six women running, two of whom are in the “top-tier” in polling, is historic. It has normalized women running for president. The slogan used in 2016 “I’m With Her” is now irrelevant. Which “her” would you be talking about?

 

Women have made strides in running for office and winning. The presidential winner in 2016 may have been a male (who failed to win the popular vote), but the loss of the first major party female candidate sparked an absolute wildfire of women running for office, for everything from license clerk to mayor to state legislator and beyond. It seemed to destroy the previous obstacle in the minds of many potential woman candidates, the “I’m not qualified” excuse for not running. After seeing someone sworn into the office of the presidency with absolutely no political experience, many women realized that they were plenty qualified.

We have certainly come a long way since the first woman ran for Congress in 1866, Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She lost, having garnered a whopping 24 votes. She quipped that she wished she could have had a photo taken with her 24 supporters. I remember the era when Ann Richards ran for governor of Texas in 1991 and her male challengers were a bit flummoxed by how to cope with a female opponent. They still thought they should be polite to a lady. That thought quickly fell by the wayside, as women are now consistently and viciously under attack whenever they run. Recently, a group of young male supporters of Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell thought it would be great fun to take a photo with a cardboard cut-out figure of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a congresswoman, with the boys pretending to choke her in a frat party inspired photo moment. Is this “boys will be boys?” Perhaps the message seems to be once women are a threat they need to be made to shut up – by force if necessary. Instead of apologizing for this violent mockery of a sitting female member of Congress, Mitch McConnell tried to turn the boys into victims. In the playbook of today, that is how the gendered political battleground is fought.

 

Of all the women running, it has been my pleasure to have personally experienced the dynamic and charismatic Marianne Williamson. I saw her speak live in San Francisco, in San Diego, and in 2012 when she came to St. Louis. Each time I’ve heard her speak I have been deeply impressed with her ability to articulate a moral position and inspire the audience.
From her website, her passion and inspiration is palpable in her written words.

“Our deepest political problems are expressed on the level of politics, but they are not rooted there. Our deepest problem is the disengagement of the American heart from the values we purport to hold most dear, and the failure of too many of our citizens to vitally participate in the expression of those values. A disengaged citizenry is to society what a weakened immune system is to the body, and that is the level on which as a country we most need revitalization. What America most needs is a renewal of the spirit of our democracy, in the absence of which the political corruption and human devastation that have become all too common in America will continue to erode our nation.”

She declared her first act as president, would be to take down the portrait of Andrew Jackson in the Oval Office. I must say I prefer what candidate Kirsten Gillibrand stated would be her first act as president: to “Clorox the Oval Office.”

Marianne Williamson is an inspirational and moral messenger that deserves thoughtful consideration as a presidential candidate. Yet, she is but one of the six women running now, joined by Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Tulsi Gabbard, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Amy Klobuchar. Each of these strong women are leaders, one of which might soon be addressed as “Madame President.”

Let us celebrate that a woman running for president is now a normal occurrence, and the field of qualified women available to lead our nation is growing.

Rebecca Now is a speaker and event planner who is passionate about American Women's History and healing the gender divide. More information can be found at http://www.rebeccanowandthen.com. She is also the founder of Voices of American HERstory, re-enactors who perform for events and suffrage centennial celebrations. Rebecca performs as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, with Jenny Morris as Susan B. Anthony and Tia Adkins as Sojourner Truth.

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