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We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby. Or Have We?

Candid Commentary CJ Clarkby CJ Clark, Featured Contributor

[su_dropcap style=”flat”]A[/su_dropcap]N 1857, women gained the right to sue, be sued, make contracts, inherit and bequeath property. In 1920, women earned full voting rights, via the Nineteenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution. The fight to earn the right to vote lasted almost 100 years. Women, it was felt, had their place in the home and were well represented in politics by their husbands. Those who may be more cynical might think it was because women were not thought to be smart enough to understand politics, the country and the implications of choosing the national leaders.

We’ve come a long way, baby. Or have we?

I recently received a note from a connection on LinkedIn. Her note was quite lengthy, detailing her request for me to become involved in her community organizing. I kept reading but still didn’t know what it was she wanted my commitment. At the bottom of the note was a link to a website that said “electHillary.” Question Mark(I just checked and the note is no longer in my inbox.)

I didn’t know this woman – but she had an impressive academic and experience resume, so I accepted the connection when she reached out. She had no idea what my political leanings might be (and frankly, neither do I).

But she made a huge assumption that I would support Hillary for President of the United States simply because I am a woman.

I am insulted, but more so, I am frightened. Have we really not progressed beyond the “kept woman” to the intelligent, articulate and strong woman who thinks for herself? Are there really women who would cast a vote for the most important position in the land simply because of gender? Are there really women who think other women would cast a vote simply because a candidate is female?

This 2016 election is important. We have significant issues in both domestic and foreign policy. We have a radical terrorist group breathing down our country. Regardless of why we are in a delicate position domestically and abroad, we are. Who we will be in the future, for our children and grandchildren, may indeed be determined by how we deal with our challenges.

Our next President must have the qualifications to lead this country. I will cast my vote for the individual, female of male, who I believe can do the job. What will I look for?

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Character

I desperately want to trust our next leader, that he or she has the very best interests of the country as a whole, in their heart. Not special interest groups, and not political lobbyists or donors, but the country as a whole. We cannot be everything to everyone, and the next leader will be faced with hard choices. I want to trust that the decision will be made, with collective thoughts from all aspects, in a manner that protects all citizens’ basic rights.

Collaboration

I want our next President to have the skills to keep an open mind, to seek out all options, to bring together the right decision makers, to make the decision and then to work with those who may not benefit to both understand and compensate.

Candor

We can only trust the word of our leaders when it is given transparently and honestly. We are smart people (I hope) and can understand when a leader provides rationale because the issue has been thoroughly vetted, collectively agreed to and not seen to be partisan. I may not like every decision, but I want to know the “why.”

Courage

To make those hard decisions, the next President will need courage. He or she will have to have a great deal of courage, because some people will inevitably be disappointed with their actions. Those may be their biggest contributors, or their largest constituency. He or she will need to say, “this is the right decision because….” and be believable.

Communication

Our next leader will need to be a master communicator. Not necessarily in oratory, but in plain, every day communication with those of us who call the United States home. Embedded in communication is trust and believability.[/message]

Is there such a person?

So the big question is, is there someone with all those attributes? I doubt we will find or elect the perfect candidate. But we have an important responsibility that goes far beyond judging a candidate by gender. Our obligation as a citizen of the United States is to:

  • Read carefully about every candidate, regardless of party affiliation.
  • Identify those basic rights and privileges that we have in the U.S., and not be swayed by special interests. We might just find the special interests have such strength that we have lost our basic rights and privileges.
  • Talk to others about the critical issues, with a desire to learn not argue. Listen to others’ perspective with an open mind.
  • Think carefully about what is important.
  • Cast a thoughtful, educated vote in 2016.

We have come a long way, baby. Let’s not blow it now.


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CJ Clark
CJ Clark
EXPLORING issues beyond the sound bites of today’s news coverage and challenging the status quo. It’s about questions, issues and answers. And it’s about time …

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