So because I've become a political junkie, I was listening to Morning Edition yesterday to catch news of the candidates in New Hampshire. One of the sound bites was a woman absolutely incredulous that so many young women threw their support behind Barack Obama instead of Hillary Clinton in Iowa.
I don't blame this woman. Our grandmothers - at least mine, I know - fought hard to be treated equally by men and to even be allowed into the workforce, let alone into Congress or the White House. According to my mother, my grandmother wanted a career outside raising her kids (not that she didn't love them and cherish her time with them), but my grandfather wasn't keen on the idea. They divorced when my mom's youngest brother was in college, and my grandmother got a job working for the now defunct Piedmont Airlines.
It is now my mother's generation that is behind Clinton, largely I'm sure because they've seen the sacrifices their mothers made and are continuing the fight for equal pay (which we still don't have) and to be taken seriously in Congress, in board rooms and on benches. And now we have an incredible opportunity before us as a nation - to elect a woman to the top position in the land, to elect a woman as the leader of the free world - and hopefully to redress all the inequalities. That's a very heady proposition, and I can understand these women's frustration that the younger generation is not seizing the day.
Well let me explain why this young woman is backing Obama and not Clinton. Let me count the ways...
1. It's all right there in the candidates' speeches after Iowa. Clinton talked about herself, "I am ready" "I will lead" and so forth. Obama said "you have done this," they said it couldn't be done, but "you have done it." Obama is empowering people to be the change they want to see in the world, instead of waiting around for some perfect leader to change it for them. This is a very powerful message for me and others my age and younger. We're ready to take change into our own hands because we've seen how badly a leader can botch things; all we need is someone we admire to encourage us. This is the most powerful thing Obama has going for him. While it is inspiring to see a woman running for president, her message so far has been uninspiring.
2. Woman can only win with Obama as president. As the first American President to be a minority, I believe Obama will do all he can to help ALL minorities, including women.
3. My main fear about Clinton is that she has too many ties to powerful interests and people who have been influential in government in the past 16 years. She has not convinced me that she would bring about change. I believe she would be a "more of the same" president. Obama has none of these connections and would be under no pressure to hire or nominate people who have had anything to do with failed policies in the past.
4. One area Clinton is very competitive in is foreign policy. Many of the world's leaders know her from her travels as First Lady last decade and from her trips as a U.S. Senator. But Obama has made many trips as a senator himself, and I have no fear that he will be able to rise to the occasion. I also believe with Obama as president the U.S. will more fully commit to its promises to Africa. Lots of lip service and empty promises have been made to this continent and it's about time we follow through.
Believe me, none of us young women are overlooking the opportunity to elect a woman to the highest position in the land. We simply want a candidate who is independent of past administrations and who inspires us to be better people and a better nation.