Having been born the same year (ok; I admit it–my birth preceded hers), Hillary and I share one overarching commonality: we’ve lived through many women’s rights inequalities, fights, and victories. (Oh, the deplorable personally experienced discrimination stories I could tell!) Historically, then, the implications of electing the first female President is very personal to both of us.
Although one of us (me) has never aspired to become the first (or subsequent) female President of the United States, I definitely get why Hillary has such aspirations. And, under different circumstances—even though I am a registered Republican–I would wholeheartedly support and applaud them.
Even though one of us (me) has never aspired to become the first (or subsequent) female President of the United States, I unequivocally have aspired to witness the election of a female President. In fact, that aspiration sits in a top spot on my bucket list.
Aspiring to see a woman President before I die is a deep-seated hope I have openly shared over the years with my students. First as a US History teacher, and later as an elementary library media specialist, I have pointed out–to the shock of most incredulous students, especially female students, that thus far, all US Presidents have one thing in common: their masculine gender.
In that connection, I have expressed my incredulity that throughout all the decades since women have been able to vote, not one woman in a population in which women generally comprise a little more than half the population has served as President of the United States. A reality made all the more seemingly incomprehensible, given that women have served as presidents, prime ministers etc.–heads of state–for many other countries around the world.
After openly admitting my desire to see a woman in the White House, sitting in the Oval Office at the desk of the US President, that is, I have challenged the female students to consider making a commitment to public service–to consider taking the necessary educational and political experiential steps to become President. Likewise, I’ve challenged the male students to support the females in their lives to reach such a patriotic goal.
Admittedly, then, just at the point when feminine pride and a sense of equality has led male and female students, alike, to the conclusion that, surely, at some point, America “has” to elect a woman President, I would always add my caveat:
As much as I want to see a woman President, it’s not just any woman I want to see elected to serve as the first female President, and it’s not simply because a Presidential candidate is a woman that I want to see her elected….which brings me to back to this tale of two women: me and Mrs. Clinton…
Face it: neither one of us is getting any younger. Chances are if Hillary doesn’t become President, I very well might die without fulfilling the woman President dream on my bucket list. And as someone who lived through the women’s rights era and who studied and taught US History that would be a great disappointment.
…And yet! one of us (me!) in all good conscience simply cannot vote for Hillary Clinton, no matter how badly I want (and have wanted for many decades) to see a female President in the White House. Here is one–professional–reason. (A followup post will detail another.)
You see, the educator in me–the US History teacher and the library media specialist– knows that (inside and outside Women’s History Month every year) students will be required to research and to report on women of distinction, women whose lives are worth holding up for emulation: women who serve as positive role models; women whose lives serve as solid lessons in character education. Among those distinctive women whose lives will be studied, who is more distinctive than the first woman President?
My professional conscience–my years as an elementary library media specialist (a.k.a. school librarian)–tells me that I would not want impressionable intermediate level students reading online and print biographies that reference many different kinds of scandals in the life of the first woman President. (Trust me! Students will read about them!)
Having waited for nearly a century for America to elect our FIRST woman President, I think that the country deserves its first woman President to be as exemplary of character–as much of a role model for impressionable youth–as possible. Having the distinction of being first (of anything worth students’ studying) carries a heavier responsibility, I would argue–fair or not, to be truly exemplary. Thus, the personal and professional integrity bar for the first female President in our country’s history justifiably, I think, needs to be higher than for subsequent female Presidents (or honestly, for that matter, for current or future male Presidents).
And so it is, regrettably, that I will not be voting for Hillary Clinton to become the first female US President…even if that means that I will never see a woman US President. As tempting as it is to put aside all other considerations and to pull the lever for Mrs. Clinton as a matter of feminine coming-of-age pride—for personal bucket list fulfillment–in professional conscience, I simply cannot do it. Not this election… Not even if it means never in any election…
While Hillary lives her political career aspirations, culminating in the Presidency, I live my educator career commitments, culminating in an integral retirement as an educator, specifically as an elementary library media specialist. That is one reason why, in good conscience, I will never be a Hillary Clinton for President supporter.