Who Run the World? Girls.
(Really, "women" since everyone I am referring to in this post is well over 18 years old. But Beyonce wrote the song and she says "girls" and who am I to question Queen Bey? Yep, that's right, no one. So "girls" it is!)
To enhance your experience reading this blog post, I highly encourage you to listen to MIA's "Bad Girls," Helen Redy's "I am Woman, Hear Me Roar," and of course, Beyonce's "Run the World (Girls)." Really, do that and you will be even more excited than I am as I reflect on what a great election cycle it has been for women in politics.
Love her or hate her, vote for her or against her, Hillary Clinton's acceptance of the Democratic Party's nomination for their Presidential ticket was a very big deal. (To borrow from her Republican competitor: it was "huge!"). Victoria Woodhull arguably flicked the first crack in the very thick glass ceiling well over 150 years ago when she was the first woman to run for president. Geradine Ferrarro and Sarah Palin added some cracks of their own when they accepted their party's nomination for the vice presidential post on the ticket (in 1984 for Democrats and in 2008 for Republicans, respectively). On July 28th, 2016, Clinton became the first woman to accept the nomination from a major party (sorry Victoria) and for the highest post in the land. Whether her party will be able to win in November remains yet to be seen, but for women in politics, this was a major accomplishment and should be recognized.
The next day, the Indiana Republican nominee, current Lt. Governor Eric Holcomb, announced that he had selected Suzanne Crouch to join his ticket as the Lt. Governor candidate. Crouch is currently serving as the state Auditor and also visited my class in the spring, sharing her experience as a woman in politics. Women have served as Lt. Governor in Indiana in the past (aside from Holcomb, who was not elected but appointed to fulfill outgoing Lt. Gov. Sue Ellsperman's seat, the last three have been women) but this is still important. Both major parties now have a woman on the ticket as Lt. Governor (with Christina Hale, who has also visited our campus, as John Gregg's running mate for the Democrats), meaning whichever one wins, we will certainly still continue our tradition of a woman in that office.
To see women successful in politics, regardless of level, position, or partisanship, is critical. It is advantageous for our government, because it should be truly representative of the people it serves and the lack of women in elected offices is a trend that has gone on far too long. It is beneficial for our policies, too, because women have a unique perspective that should be considered and the diversity of views and ideas is what generates the most well-thought and considered policies. We still have a long way to go (recognize the other areas in which we deftly lack diversity and the various barriers that make entering the political arena difficult for some) but this is a very promising point in our country and state's trajectory.
I share this story a lot and now, so much so, that I often feel obligated to open with "I am sorry if I have told you this before but..." as a forewarning for the frequency with which I tell it. Still, it is important, as it explains my lifelong interest in politics and why I think having great politicians, from both sexes, from both/all parties, from all races/creeds/religions/orientations/etc. is really valuable in a democracy. When I was a little girl, I was interested in politics (I really did always love the spotlight, glory, and power--can't deny that). As such, my parents bought me books about women in politics--books on Jackie Kennedy (whose clothing I envied), Eleanor Roosevelt (whose passion I admired), Nancy Reagan (whose dedication I wanted to emulate), and maybe even some on then-First Lady Hillary Clinton (she was first lady when I was a little girl growing up and though I do not remember reading a specific book about her, it is likely I had at least one at the time). It did occur to me for a while later, probably until I was in late elementary school, that none of these women were actually in politics, at least not in the way I found so fascinating. They were all married into the system, they all did work that was certainly laudable, but not one (at this point) had actually held elected office herself. Though it was not the intent, the message I received growing up is that I could be a first lady...but not a president.
Years and elections have passed, and the number of women in Congress, on the Supreme Court, and even running on presidential tickets has skyrocketed since I was reading my biographies on first ladies and trying to copy what they did so I could be like them. This election concerns many very serious and often upsetting issues, the campaign has already turned ugly and will no doubt become even more negative before it is over in 100 days. Without forgetting the bad, though, I think it is imperative that we aknoweldge the good and appreciate all the progress we (as women, as Americans, as citizens interested in a better government) have witnessed and accomplished. As Beyonce Knowles sang, "My persuasion can build a nation, Endless power, the love we can devour....Who Run the World? GIRLS!"