As a candidate, I find Hillary Clinton problematic. I don’t worry about her health and age; Karl Rove’s red-faced high blood pressure isn’t having much of an effect on mine. Her policy preferences are not my concern. I’m sure she would be a strong and decisive leader, that she could and would do great things for Americans across the United States, for men and women alike. I prefer her to most other potential Democrats. No, I find Hillary Clinton problematic in that, if elected, she would be America’s first female president.
As a feminist — and that word is so over-politicized I’ve lost half my audience already — but as a feminist, I take issue with the fact that the first female president would also be a former first lady. It’s not that she’s unqualified. She went to Wellesley for undergrad, Yale Law School, and served as a U.S. Senator. She worked on various children and family committees, served on business board, was a supremely talented lawyer, and of course had her controversial time as Secretary of State. She does not lack for her own individual education and experience, or her own accomplishments. It could also absolutely be argued that her marriage to Bill Clinton, which encompassed his presidential campaign and presidency ,was a firsthand opportunity to observe the trials and tribulations that go with the job she might seek in 2016.
What I find so disturbing is that this job she may seek is a position at the pinnacle of our nation. It waits to be filled by one out of the 318 million Americans, give or take a few — approximately half of those women — and the only viable female candidate we seem to have found would be grandfathered into place, in a sense, by her husband’s connections and career.
I say viable female candidate because Mrs. Clinton is hardly the first female to compete for the presidency, or to consider running for president. There’s a long list of candidates from a range of parties, including both Democratic and Republican. She wouldn’t be the first to run, but she would be the first to run with as much national attention, the first to run with such heavy backing. For me, it would mean more to watch a woman rise to that place in her party and in politics without having gained any appeal, power, funding, or votes from a president sharing her last name. The victory would feel more complete.
It isn’t that I don’t want her to win, or that I won’t be rooting for her if she runs, or will even be unhappy should she take the position. It’s the concept that bothers me, and in the end, I think it would be a loss.