Ready for a female president? (11/3/2015)

The Idaho Falls City Club will feature a speaker Friday who will explore one of the nation’s most interesting political questions, writes David Adler.

By David Adler

Democrats stand on the ramparts of nominating Hilary Clinton to be their standard bearer in the 2016 presidential election. That would mark the first time in U.S. history a major political party has selected a woman to serve in the nation’s highest office. The question arises: Is America ready for a woman in the White House?

Professor Caroline Heldman, author of a book on the subject, will address that seminal question in her luncheon remarks to the City Club of Idaho Falls on Friday. Her resume reflects several gifts and talents: a respected academic, noted author, nationally acclaimed speaker on women’s rights and domestic violence, and a national television commentator on both Fox News and MSNBC – an intriguing achievement in its own right.

The United States lags behind some 50 nations that have elected women to the office of president, or a comparable executive position. Is there a reason why our country, heralded throughout the world as the “greatest ” democracy, and admired for its promotion of international human rights, civil rights and equality of opportunity has, thus far, failed to elect a woman to the Oval Office?

The election of women to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives has increased in recent years, but the dearth of female candidates for the presidency generates curiosity. Is there something about the nature of that office – its powers, responsibilities and duties – that discourages women from pursuing it?

More acutely, is there something about the duties and responsibilities of that office that lead many voters to believe that women do not possess the requisite skills to hold it? If so, what explains those attitudes and beliefs?

Those questions, among others, are key questions about American politics that Professor Heldman, in her writings and lectures across the nation, has explored and will explore at the City Club luncheon. They are questions that all voters should be interested in assessing, for they plumb the depths of our political system and structure.

Whether citizens are supporters or opponents of Secretary Clinton’s candidacy is irrelevant. What matters most of all is whether America is true to Her principles of equality and egalitarianism.

Professor Heldman brings to the City Club a broad array of gifts and talents. A bright, articulate speaker, she is not to be overlooked. She has been active in addressing some of the great issues confronting our nation, including her role as co-founder of a national organization to combat sexual violence on college campuses.

I’ve told my students that their education transcends the four corners of the classroom, as well as the confining walls of their ideology and politics. That teaching applies to all citizens.