Thursday, August 28, 2008

I don't want a woman president!! (Or a black president, or an old white guy president ...)

Buy at Art.comDriving around today, I had NPR on and a caller in to the Diane Rheem show was talking about her disappointment in the outcome of the Democratic race to date. Turned out she was a Hillary supporter and her comments were - "I really wanted a woman president. I wanted to see that in my lifetime."

Wow. Anyone else have a problem with that comment?

My first thought was - are you not expecting to live four to eight more years? Seriously. People act as though the fact that Hillary didn't get in this time means the end of women's chances to hold the highest office. Even if Obama wins and there might not be a serious chance to take the space for eight more years, it just means someone other than Hillary will be up there. Had you heard of Obama eight years ago? Just because you might not have a name right on the tip of your tongue right now (Sarah Palin, Nancy Pelosi, Kathleen Sebelius, Janet Napolitano, Susan Collins, Carly Fiorina to name a few from both parties), doesn't mean someone won't rise up in the next four years to be a viable choice.

But the main thing that got me irked was the whole fact that her preference and desires were caught up in having a woman president. A woman president. Not a good president, not a strong president, not a thoughtful president, but a woman.

Now before you get your knickers in a twist, I'm certainly not saying a woman president couldn't be all those things. But when you get caught up in the label, you might compromise on what's really important for the job. So I don't want a woman president. I don't want a black president. I don't want an old white guy, young white guy, any-demographic-label-guy president.

I want (and will likely not see in my lifetime, sigh) a thoughtful president, one who lives in the same world of gray that I do because he understands there are very few absolute truths in our world. I want a strong president, one who will do what is right for the country above her own political ends. I want a constitutional president, one who understands there are hard boundaries that the government shouldn't cross no matter what anyone says.

The best part of this wishlist is that it is completely separate from the label you put on a person. It could be a woman. It could be a minority. It could be an old white guy. The traits that are truly crucial to leading the country are independent of the parts of a person they can't change - age, race, gender. Basing your vote on these rather than wanting to see a woman or a minority in the White House makes you truly non-sexist, non-racist, non-elitist. Which is how I'd prefer to be labeled.

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