A vote for Hillary, a vote for our daughters?

Weighing the symbolism of a leader's identity.

Published March 22, 2007 9:10PM (EDT)

"I know who I'm voting for," my husband told me as we loaded the dishwasher.

"Obama? Edwards?"


The Hillary/Obama/YouTube brouhaha rages on with the revelation that the attack ad's creator worked for Obama. Various pundits attempt to explain Hillary's slippage in the polls while many others attempt in their own awkward ways to smear her. My recent fave: calling her the "most cunning viscous vindictive woman who ever entered the halls of national politics." Whoa, that's a lot of viscosity, people!

But the former first lady got one unexpected endorsement from my husband. Despite the fact that there's plenty he disagrees with about Clinton's positions, he's leaning toward her simply because she's a woman. "I have two daughters and I want them to grow up in a country where it's possible for them to become president," he said. "I don't know when that's going to happen again."

Of course one only has to conjure Margie Thatcher's reactionary reign or the astounding career of Indira Gandhi to realize that electing a female head of state doesn't necessarily lead to a feminist utopia, but he has a point. Aside from Condoleezza Rice -- the less said about her potential candidacy for president the better -- the horizons aren't exactly teeming with viable electable female political candidates.

Sure, this plays well into Clinton's "I Can Be President" campaign to attract female voters -- the sort of unvarnished identity politics I love to hate. But is there ever a time when the symbolism of a leader's identity -- that, for instance, a woman (or a black man) could actually be the leader of the world's most powerful nation -- is so unfathomable, so revolutionary, so potentially life changing for its youth -- that it should weigh heavily on our decision? I'm still undecided, but maybe you aren't -- feel free to chime in!

By Carol Lloyd

Carol Lloyd is currently at work on a book about the gentrification wars in San Francisco's Mission District.

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