The lament is well worn by now. We read and hear it again and again:
In countries around the world women are prime ministers and presidents, but in America a woman has yet to be named president. While women have made headway in corporations and at the highest levels of educational institutions, in science and in engineering, no woman has ever been U.S. president.
The 2008 election was a watershed with Hillary Clinton as the almost-Democratic nominee and Sarah Palin as the Republican vice-presidential nominee, but if women are to continue to compete at the highest level of American politics, women must run for president.
Linton Weeks, NPR journalist asked an important question earlier this month: “But what, if any, difference will the participation of Palin or Bachmann make in the campaign?”
I believe that to level the political playing field for women it is an imperative to have women candidates in every presidential election. It is important to have Michele Bachman on the stage if for no other reason , that there is evidence that the more women who run for president the less that gender matters because women will not be seen as novelty candidates.
Michele Bachmann used her debate appearance last night to make her formal announcement of her candidacy for president. She also raised her credibility by reminding voters that she is a former federal tax attorney. She exuded all the markers of a president: intelligence, wit, composure, temperament and perhaps most important in this multi-media age: youth and charisma. She also communicated forcefully and decisively by asserting: “The president was absolutely wrong.” Forcefullness is especially important for women candidates because critics of women and leadership are quick to question the toughness of women.
Better than one woman on the stage last night would have been two or more and even better than that would have been all women and only one male candidate.
Still, Bachmann gave an impressive showing at the debate last night and from the perspective of women and the United States presidency, that’s a very good thing.