One Bold Step

Everyone talks a great game about changing the world, or even just their lives, but courage, while free, comes with one price: action. I want to share my bold step with you, and, if you write to me with your bold step, and it's timely, I'll post it on my site every couple of weeks, if not more often.

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Location: Phoenix, Arizona, United States

Director of Research for (aka: The Foundation Foundation). Formerly with Air America Radio Phoenix ("Froggy Went A Marchin..."). Sang the National Anthem at a rally in Phoenix with Cindy Sheehan. Loves: chocolate, flowers, perfume (my grandmother), great music, politics, and a whole-hearted appreciation of the truth (Are there really "conspiracy theories" or do we need more FOIAs?). Seeker of justice and agent for change.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Counting Hillary Out Too Early?

Normally, I would not blog about Senator Clinton. There are plenty of people doing that already. Journalists are reviewing her Wal-Mart record relentlessly now, and Chris Matthews seems almost infatuated with her as he glorifies in picking apart any possibility she has of a presidential run in 2008. I stand firmly with those, including the Senator, herself, who see 2006 as a much bigger, more immediate conundrum. For readers who have missed it, while I disagree with her stances on Iraq, "flag burning," and at least the language she uses now on abortion, she has -- publicly and privately -- expressed anger at the lack of cohesion of her own party in standing up to President Bush and the rest of the Republican three-ring circus. If it wasn't for Iraq, the issue of where to draw the line with freedom of speech, and the notion that I don't want the government in my personal business, I would be behind her 100%.

But this is the problem for Hillary. We're forgetting that this nation has yet to elect a woman as president. And I really do mean forgetting. Here's the list of countries that have already had women in key positions of top leadership, whether prime ministerial or presidential, that come immediately to my mind: Israel, Ireland, Canada, Finland (with thanks to Conan O'Brien for the second term), Liberia, and now Chile. Two of them -- Liberia and Chile -- have done us the honors of placing women in these positions just in the last few months, alone. We are sorely lacking.

France has now adopted an equal pay law. France's women didn't get the right to vote until after ours did, but that nation has the equivalent of one of the tenants of the Equal Rights Amendment, and we don't. According to a recent Mother Jones Magazine article, women still make only $o.56 on every male dollar, unless we're raising children, in which case the number goes up to $0.80 (Can I hear the collective frustrated sigh of single women everywhere?). In another issue, they discuss the status of fighting domestic violence in this country, and the statistics are startling. The United States of America hasn't even ratified CEDAW. "The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, is often described as an international bill of rights for women. Consisting of a preamble and 30 articles, it defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination." One hundred eighty-two other nations have done so. Yes, that's right: 182. Our status on this list is embarrassing, and it should be.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is in a very difficult position: she has to prove herself on issues of foreign policy to people who wouldn't even follow a woman into battle, and she has to keep her head on straight, and I'm not talking about just appealing to the Democratic Party's base. Any woman considering running for our nation's highest office has quite an act to create. Make no mistake: I'm not condoning her positions on Iraq, flag burning, abortion, nor even a degree of her own silence in the face of some of the current administration's huge disasters, but I am calling this country on the carpet. We need only three states to pass the Equal Rights Amendment to get this ratified as an official amendment to The Constitution. There is precedent, via the 27th, for such a move, and I'm sitting in one of the states that ought to do it: Arizona (Governor Napolitano... post-re-election agenda priority number one). What the hell is it with this country that our women don't have this amendment as our foundation for freedom? Where's our light to shine to the rest of the world? Pardon my bluntness, hell... my boldness, but this is ridiculous. If Betty Ford, my favorite Republican ever, could back this amendment, and her husband could, too, what's stopping this country from adopting these two major bills into law, here, let alone electing a woman to our nation's highest office? This question is rhetorical. I don't expect an answer. I want you to think about it. Seriously. Even if you're a "feminist." I know from entrenched power structures in some of the most "liberal" places in the nation, personally. So, when my own interactions are sometimes questionable, it leaves a lot on the table to be desired.

It may well take a good November Congress cleaning in order for Hillary to feel that she has enough public support to say what she really thinks now. Can we blame her for this? I don't like it any more than anyone else, and I wonder if by speaking out now she would do more good than she perceives, including on issues like Iraq. We all know she's been walking the line with it for some time now.

Frankly, people who aren't "ready" to see a woman as president of this nation ought to be ashamed of themselves. This isn't a question of readiness. It's a question of faith, and I don't mean the Dobson kind. It's the type that requires us, individually, to revolutionize this nation; the sort of decision that could open way more doors for people than we think. For people, women, especially, who can't see themselves as part of a political movement (I Corinthians comes to mind, here), voting a woman into office is exactly the sort of individual act that could validate them, too, not just those of us who are "activists."

If we need Biblical precedent, then maybe Deborah should be given a second look. She wasn't just a "judge," she was that time's equivalent of a political leader. For all of my own complaints about religion, this is one story any religion has right. Can I get a few million: "Amen" and some votes? It's time to make a leap of faith, and, while we're at it, time to rethink just where we stand with Hillary. She's not perfect, but she is brilliant, and she has a cadre of the best political advisors in the nation at her side, including, yes, her husband. I'm keeping my eyes on 2006, but I have to admit that, with stakes this high, I just can't count Senator Clinton out this early for 2008.