For whatever reasons — tactical or cultural — there’s a lot of talk about how Hillary Clinton shouldn’t make too big a deal out of being the first woman to ever receive a major political party’s nomination for president.
Regardless of how her campaign decides to play that issue, it is a big deal. A very big deal.
And, regardless of how anyone feels about Clinton’s candidacy, this long-overdue accomplishment of our democracy must be celebrated.
And emulated. There are simply too few women in public office.
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Consider Kentucky: We’ve had one female governor in over 200 years, Martha Layne Collins, and not one attorney general. Our secretary of state and treasurer (Alison Lundergan Grimes, D, and Allison Ball, R) are both women, but every member of our congressional delegation is male.
In the U.S. Senate, 20 percent of the members are female (14 Ds, 6 Rs). In the U.S. House, 19 percent, 84 of 435 (62 Ds, 22 Rs) are women.
In the Kentucky Senate there are no women in leadership and only four senators, 11 percent, (evenly split between Rs and Ds) are female. The numbers are slightly better in the House, where 18 (10 Ds and eight Rs) of the 100 members are female, and one woman, Sannie Overly, D-Paris, is in leadership.
But “slightly” is the operative word.
Women, most people know, make up slightly over half the population.
Less commonly known is that, according to data prepared by the Center for Women and Politics at Rutgers, they have significantly outnumbered men among registered voters for decades.
In 1980, 55.7 million women were registered compared to 49.3 million men; in 2014 it was 76 million women compared to 66.1 million men. And, those registered women vote more often than their male counterparts. In 2014, the center reports, 43 percent of women reported voting compared to 40.8 percent of men.
So, there’s no saying women aren’t interested in how they are governed, they just have very few opportunities to vote for people of their gender.
There are reasons women don’t run for and win political office. For some, the prospect of years trying to break into an a male-run club might be just too daunting. And many simply never really thought about it because, after all, there are so few female examples.
So, yes, it’s something to celebrate when a woman is finally nominated by a major party to be president. And it’s something to celebrate when Grimes (who spoke Tuesday night at the Democratic National Convention and was interviewed yesterday on MSNBC) and Ball are elected to statewide office.
Here’s hoping Clinton’s nomination inspires more women, regardless of party affiliation, to run for office.