I couldn’t resist; I just had to lead with this:
All eyes are on Pennsylvania this week, as it is a key state in next Tuesday’s primaries. But I wonder how Donald Trump will arrive in Pennsylvania? His plane, you see, has been grounded by the FAA for registration that expired in February! Registration, by the way, costs $5 for three years. So, since we know that Trump can afford the price of registering his plane, it can only mean he didn’t pay much attention to details. But then, are we surprised? No. Though it is highly unlikely that the FAA will seek the maximum penalty for the plane having flown with expired registration, the maximum penalty is a criminal fine of up to $250,000 and imprisonment for up to three years. I imagine at least one head will roll when Mr. Trump yells “You’re Fired!”
To date, most of the election news and speculation has been on the Republican candidates and the shenanigans on the campaign trail. The Democratic race has been simpler, with only two viable candidates from the beginning, and kinder, even in light of the recent sniping between Sanders and Clinton. Now, however, closer attention is being paid, as more than half the delegates have been selected and with the Clinton win in New York earlier this week, most of the pundits are predicting that Bernie Sanders does not stand a chance. Rumour has it that Clinton is considering a woman, most likely Elizabeth Warren, as her running mate. On one hand, while I would applaud such a move, the other hand is wagging a finger, saying “no no no.”
The path to the White House for Hillary Clinton has been a long one, more than 200 years, actually. In the 19th century, it was unthinkable that a woman would ever be president. Women did not even earn the right to vote until 1920! In the late 19th century, the Equal Rights Party ran two women, Victoria Woodhull (1872), and Belva Ann Lockwood (1884 & 1888). The first female candidate to run under one of the two major parties was Margaret Chase Smith in 1964, who ran as a Republican, but lost the party nomination to Barry Goldwater. Hillary Clinton is the first woman to be this close to receiving a major party nomination in the history of the U.S.
This nation has come a long way since the 19th century, and I think most would agree that Hillary Clinton has knowledge and experience that exceed that of any of the other candidates in either party. That said, there are still prejudices in this country. I do not agree with those prejudices, but it is wise to acknowledge that they exist. The circus that has been the GOP campaign for the past year has made it easier for the democratic candidate to win the general election in November. Easier, but not necessarily a given. In a recent poll by CNN/ORC, 8 out of 10 Americans say that the country is ready for its first woman president. In 2006, only 6 out of 10 thought we were ready for a woman president. However, there is a partisan divide: 90% of democrats, but only 68% of republicans see a female president as a viable option. Since the only woman in the running is a democrat, perhaps that is to be expected, or perhaps it is the ultra-conservatism that defines the GOP today.
Gender should not matter, just as race or religion should not matter. But the reality is that they do matter to some. Consider this: would Barack Obama have won in 2008 if he had chosen an African-American running mate? Very doubtful. It is not right, but it is the way the world is. We work to change it, and we are succeeding, but change is often slow. Think how long it took us to abolish slavery, to allow women to vote, and we are still working on racial equality after all these years. We may have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go, and I fear that a ticket with two women might doom the Democrats chances in the long run.
As for a Clinton/Warren ticket, there are some positives, but also some negatives. On the plus side, Warren shares many of Bernie Sanders’ liberal ideas and would likely be able to rally a portion of his supporters. Warren, a former Harvard Law professor, is highly qualified in domestic affairs, though she is light on foreign policy experience. She has been a Democratic Senator from Massachusetts since 2013 and has also served in a number of advisory roles and on several Senate committees. Interestingly, she has not endorsed Hillary Clinton, and as recently as last month said she was “still cheering Bernie on.” Another consideration for Clinton is that if Elizabeth Warren were to become her running mate, Massachusetts Governor, Charlie Baker, would get to pick Warren’s replacement until a special election is held, which could take up to six months. Hillary will be reluctant to do anything that could stop Democrats from re-taking the Senate. And lastly, Warren’s popularity is largely untested and she only won the Senate seat by eight points over Scott Brown.
In September 2015, Rayne Blumenthal, writing for The State Press, opined that while the U.S. may be ready to elect a woman as president, the world is not ready for the U.S. to be represented by a woman. I have to disagree. There are more than 175 current heads of state worldwide, 18 of whom are women. Think Angela Merkel, the well-respected Chancellor of Germany. Indira Gandhi was Prime Minister of India for a total of 15 years, ending with her assassination in 1984. Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979-1990. All respected, though not always liked, leaders of nations. Blumenthal argues that our diplomatic relations will suffer if Clinton is elected president, but Clinton has, in fact, far more experience in diplomatic relations and is far better known internationally than Sanders, Trump or Cruz. And most of our allies have clearly stated that they are afraid of a Trump presidency. If you are interested, you can read her column here.
Only Clinton knows, and likely she does not yet know, who she will select as her running mate and potential Vice-President. In addition to Elizabeth Warren, several names are being bandied about by the pundits, including Secretary of Labour, Tom Perez, and current Vice-President Joe Biden. It is too early to speculate much beyond that, as there are more than 20 candidates who are likely on the long list. My personal choice would be a Clinton/Sanders ticket, but the odds of that are between slim and none, so my second choice would likely be Clinton/Biden. No matter what, it is destined to be a long, hot, albeit interesting summer.