Think about this for a moment. What if, all things being equal, absolutely nothing different except for one small detail, that detail being: the gender of the two presidential candidates were swapped? What if every detail of the 2016 presidential election occurred as is except that Hillary Clinton was male and Donald Trump was female? Is there anyone, I mean anyone, who could reasonably deny that the election would have had quite a different outcome?
I know Hillary actually won the nationwide popular vote by close to three million votes, but, as anyone who follows this column knows, I really never expected the election to be so close as to allow for the Electoral College vote to be even slightly close, certainly not close enough to result in a Trump win.
Is it even conceivable that arguably the most qualified candidate to run for the office, who in this scenario happens to be a man, Hillary, could lose to a woman, Trump, who was without argument the least qualified candidate ever to run for the highest office in the land? Is it even conceivable that if Donald Trump was a female he, I mean she, would have even been a serious contender for the Republican nomination? Let me direct you to the name Carly Fiorina, a female who similarly possessed Trump’s lack of public service combined with a business background. She, you will remember, offered quite the same arguments as did Trump for the nomination – being a government outsider, etc. – and never gained any serious traction as a candidate. Could it have been her gender?
What does all this say about our country? It says that no matter how much we pride ourselves on being the “greatest country on earth”, we still have a ways to go regarding entrusting a woman to lead this nation. It says that the fact that it wasn’t until 1920 that we even gave the right to vote to women is an indicator that we don’t move very quickly when it comes to women’s rights. It says that we trail such nations as Great Britain, Israel, Germany and even India and Pakistan when it comes to placing a woman as the head of our nation.
Now, I know what some of you are thinking: we might have voted for her if it was anyone other than Hillary. To that I say go back to the original question and be honest with yourself when you consider who you would have voted for if Trump was the one to be in position to be “grabbed by the pussy” and Hillary was in position to claim “I can assure you there is no problem there” when defending the size of her, I mean his hands.
The problem, of course, is that the lack of females in high positions of our government is not limited to the White House. We all know that both the Senate, the House of Representatives AND the Cabinet have only a small percentage of females. As a matter of fact, the line of succession for the Trump presidency consists of all white males for the first eight slots based on his nominees for his cabinet.
The list starts with Vice President Mike Pence and then proceeds down the line with House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate President Pro Tempore Orrin Hatch, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, and Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke. Throw in Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Labor Andrew Puzder and Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price and you will have quite a diverse group if, by diverse, we mean all old white men.
Now this would not necessarily be problematic if it wasn’t for the fact that the Republican leadership has been hellbent on rolling back the rights of women.
Let me give you just one example of the men in charge of legislating women’s rights not being able to relate to a woman’s issue as well as, I would suspect, a woman might be able to. Jason Chaffetz is the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. During hearings looking into funding of Planned Parenthood facilities, he was questioning Cecile Richards, the president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. During the questioning Congressman Chaffetz stumbled upon a nugget of information that he thought was determinative: Planned Parenthood facilities do not routinely perform mammograms.
From his reaction to this tidbit you would have thought he struck gold. He didn’t. What he failed to recognize is that offices that perform check-ups, like his own doctor’s office and like Planned Parenthood facilities, do not ordinarily house the equipment to perform scans. Rather, an individual such as himself or, in this case, his wife needing a scan such as a mammogram would be directed to a lab facility that specializes in conducting such scans. That is how it works with my own doctor’s office and, I am sure, most others. Perspective. It is all about getting the full perspective when making legislative decisions.
Why, you might ask, did so many women not only vote for Trump but for Republican Senators and Congressman as well? Well, the only answer I can come up with is, apparently, too many women in this country are no more willing to place a woman at the top of the government than are their male counterparts.
The point of all of this is that diversity, and by no means do I limit diversity to just gender, is an essential ingredient to good government because it is through diversity that our legislators will be in position to understand the full impact of their decisions on various groups of citizens.
I always try to keep in mind “To Kill A Mockingbird” and Atticus Finch’s words to Scout when he advised her that sometimes “you have to walk in a man’s shoes” to fully understand his plight.