America has produced some of the most astute women politicians in the world. At a time when politics was preserved for men, Margaret Chase made contributions that have gone down in history as the world’s best. Over sixty years later, she is still remembered for her exemplary contributions as the U.S. Representative and as a Senator. Indeed, history has it that she was the very first woman to represent citizens of the United States in both houses. During her tenure, she caught everyone’s attention, when she meticulously delivered her speech “Declaration of Conscience” in 1950. In this speech, she tactfully brought down the strategies of McCarthyism with her well-orchestrated criticism. This ushered in a new era of conscience and humanity in the politics of the Republican Party and the United States in general.
Later on in 1964, she would unsuccessfully go for the Republican Party nomination. Again, she made history as the first woman to run for nomination for United States presidency in a major political party. Her good reputation as a politician with conscience made her the longest-serving female Senator until Barbara Mikulski recently surpassed her. Indeed, she proved that women should not leave politics to their male counterparts as they can equally make a difference. She laid the foundation upon which current female politicians have built their politics.
This paper investigates the challenges that women face in politics and how they should psychologically prepare to overcome them. In addition, it takes a look at the benefits of having women politicians at the top considering that most of them have proved more reliable than most of their male colleagues. Finally, the paper will assess how the United States views women politicians, considering that women were not allowed to participate in the electoral process up to a few years ago.
Challenges to Women Politicians
Although financial support is no longer a challenge to women politicians in America, Margaret Chase conceded it was when she was gunning for the presidential nomination on the Republican Party ticket. This can be attributed to the fact that America has considerably changed and accords women equal opportunities in employments. In the run-up to 2008 General Election, Hillary Rodham Clinton put up a spirited fight for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, and never complained about the lack of funds. In fact, at some point her campaign had more money than that of her opponent, Barrack Obama. This showed the significance of the move that the Americans took to declare equal rights for men and women. However, this was not the case during Margaret Chase’s time because people did not even take her seriously. This caused her to make the concession that although she had no money to fund her campaigns, she would stay in the presidential race to the end. She was convinced that she was fighting for the right cause. Thus, when people told her she did not have a chance of success, she felt the compulsion to continue trying. In the end, she lost almost every primary election, only managing 25 percent of the vote in the state of Illinois. In that particular election, she came at the fifth position after her male counterparts, but still declined to pull out of the rest of competition, although she was under pressure to quit. According to the literature, she would later play a crucial role in campaigning for the party nominee and even defending her policies on social security (Charles, 2010). Essentially, Margaret Chase knew from the beginning that her participation in the electoral process was not the end of marginalization of women, but it was a means to ending that era of marginalization.
Women in politics have had to contend with the fact that the society is not ready for women leadership. While everyone wishes that gender equality to be fully practiced, the historical biases in universal gender roles still play out. For example, it is easier to sell the idea of a male Commander in Chief than the idea of a female at the same position. Thus, when it comes to political campaigns, male politicians have an edge over their female counterparts even on matters of policy. Even in economic environment, it is a fact that most businesses in America are owned by men, who later venture into politics. Thus, women politicians are generally considered to be having little experience as compared to their male counterparts. Currently, the Republican nominee for presidency boasts of 23 years’ experience in business, something no one would expect of a woman politician in the current political landscape. Essentially, it is something that is deeply rooted in the society and will take several years to change. It therefore means from the onset that when a man gets into a political contest with a woman, the man has an outright advantage over her due to remnants of social issues. According to literature, Margaret lost all the primary elections simply because people did not think of her candidacy as a legitimate one. They believed that it was just another act in affirmative action to give women a voice in women politics. While this assertion had some truth, it cannot be assumed that this was the only reason she was vying. After all, she had an impeccable record as the people’s champion, both as a Senator and a Congress lady. Indeed, she was one of the most respected Americans at the time, who helped shape up national and regional policies for the country (Lynne, 2010).
Some of the challenges that women face in politics are purely political and can easily be avoided. In Canada, for instance, the cases of political intimidation and gender stigma have been used to keep off women from participating in politics. Although most politicians do not do it directly, the fact that they publicly question women’s readiness to lead puts the general population in doubts as to whether they really can. This has often caused good women leaders to lose political seats, even when their policies resonated well with the electorate. It cannot be denied that Margaret Chase was one of the most trusted politicians in her time, especially after delivering her popular speech, in which she condemned attempts to sniffle individual liberties. However, it is generally believed that women do not have enough experience in holding offices, and as such would not make good political leaders.
The nature of regional, as well as national, politics has not favored participation of women either. The culture of character assassination has dominated politics for a long time and most women are not ready to be exposed in public that much. Thus, they prefer to keep off national politics in order to protect their own image and that of their family. This is the reality that Margaret had to face in her pursuit of political offices in the United States of America. Quite often, she was reminded that she belonged somewhere different from national politics - the kitchen. Although that was several years ago, this has not completely changed in America. For example, it should be noted that when Sara Palin ran as Republican Party presidential running mate, her suitability for the position was questioned on the basis of gender and her family roles (Sarah & Alana, 2009). The issue of her teenage daughter who had a child kept surfacing in the political landscape. In fact, she conceded that at some point she considered calling it quits in national politics and returning to her quite life as the Governor of Alaska.
Advantages of Women Participation in Politics
Women politicians are known for their sober approach to critical issues and sound judgment on matters of social and security policies. As a member of the U.S. Congress, Margaret made significant contribution to social and military policies while she served in the House Naval Affairs Committee. Indeed, members of the house often commended her understanding of these issues and the fact that she revealed every good intentions she had for the country during her contributions. In addition, she went against partisan approach to issues, something that usually defines debate in the legislative houses. She would embrace a good idea, whether it originated from the Republicans or the Democrats. At some point, she was touted as a possible replacement as the Undersecretary of the U.S. Navy or for the position of an Assistant Secretary of State. Even today, women are often said to be the voices of reason in the treacherous area of politics. There is a saying that if left alone, men would turn the world upside down because they are generally destructive. However, the presence of women often changes this as they insist on dialogue and patience. Indeed, this is why the position of the First Lady often attracts national attention, although they are not politicians themselves. Once their husbands have been elected to the office, First Ladies usually take the role of moderators, especially on matters that only require the President to assent. The society has given the role of advising the President accordingly, so that the country is not plunged into anarchy. For example, it is said that Condoleezza Rice, the former Secretary of State, played a crucial role in delaying the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. She is said to have insisted on a diplomatic approach rather than military invasion.
The participation of women in politics has helped to empower other women to take up more active roles in the society. Hardly 100 years ago Margaret Chase made history as the first woman to make it to the Senate, House of Congress and the first woman to seek presidential nomination in a major party. This seemed to have catalyzed the need for social and gender equity in all cadres of the society. Since then, the number of women participants in state as well as national politics has been increasing in every election (Lynn & David, 2008). Various states are currently represented by women in the Senate and in the Congress. American politics seems to have changed completely since women started participating. Indeed, issues of character assassination and destructive propaganda have been on the decline. Is should be remembered that Margaret Chase was at the forefront in championing for civility and conscience in politics. She took up strong battles against seasoned politicians and still emerged successful because she had people’s support. Apart from being the change she wanted to see in the U.S. politics, Margaret also crafted legislations that gave women more social freedom. For example, she was one of the brains behind the Women's Armed Services Integration Actthat made it possible for women to gain full participation in the U.S. Armed Forces. This significantly raised the status of women in the United States of America considering that such a thing had not been taken seriously before. Indeed, this was one of the steps that gave legitimacy to women aspirants for the U.S. presidency. Essentially, women’s participation in politics has shown the world that given a chance, women can do better than what many men do.
Young people have gained more interest in politics due to the entry of women into national and regional politics. The general feeling that they can also give it a try makes young people go for these seats. Thus, is spite of having little money they keep going and eventually make a difference, even if they do not achieve the victory. Before President J. F. Kennedy, most Americans had thought that grey hair was a requirement for one to be President in the United States. However, the fact that Kennedy did not just make it to the position, but also was a good president, has given courage to many young people to join politics. According to the literature, the liberation of one section of the society eventually leads to the liberation of all. Thus, when women first thrashed into national politics, they set the stage for other dominated sections of the society like youths and African Americans. Indeed, it was after her that America has African Americans trying their luck in national politics. It is also during her time that Civil Rights Movement gained momentum and eventually ushered in an era of social equity in the United States. Jesse Jackson was a young man when he started participating in the activities of the Civil Rights Movement (Eric, 2010). Additionally, he was not alone in this as most participants were of his age. Even Martin Luther King Jnr., one of the leading members of the Movement was in his thirties during his time. This was only made possible by the earlier participation of women in regional and national politics against the social odds. To this day, women have remained an inspiration to the world, especially to the marginalized communities. Indeed, they continue to shape party policies by ensuring that they are adequately moderate and beneficial to the general public.
The Future of Women in Politics
The United States of America will undoubtedly continue to produce more astute women politicians in the world. At a time when politics was preserved for men, Margaret Chase made contributions that have gone down in history as the world’s best. Over sixty years later, she is still remembered for her exemplary contributions as the U.S. Representative and as a Senator. Indeed, history has it that she was the very first woman to represent citizens of the United States in both houses. During her tenure, she caught everyone’s attention when she meticulously delivered her speech, “Declaration of Conscience” in 1950. In this speech, she tactfully brought down the tactics of McCarthyism with her well orchestrated criticism. This ushered in a new era of conscience and humanity in the politics of the Republican Party and the United States in general. Later on in 1964, she would unsuccessfully go for the Republican Party nomination. Again, she made history as the first woman to gun for nomination for United States presidency in a major political party. Her good reputation as a politician with conscience made her the longest-serving female Senator until Barbara Mikulski recently surpassed her. Indeed, she proved that women should not leave politics to their male counterparts as they can equally make a difference. She laid the foundation, upon which current female politicians have built their politics (Jean & Bernice, Joy & Janis, 2007).
Currently, there is no doubt that most senior positions in the government are held by female politicians. For example, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Secretary of State, has shown that women can equally exercise good leadership. She has remained the face of America in the international scene, considering the role of her office. When she took over four years ago, the country had a very poor reputation in the world, thanks to the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. The world was more insecure not only because of the terror threat, but also due to the approach that the United States was giving the whole matter. However, this changed drastically once Hillary Clinton was elected to this office. It must be appreciated that her predecessor unsuccessfully tried to bring peace in U.S. foreign policy. According to the literature, Hillary is said to have succeeded because of the respect that she commands in the Obama administration and in the country at large. It should, therefore, be expected that issues of the lack of experience would not arise if she decides to gun for presidency after President Obama. Essentially, the future of women in politics looks brighter than ever before, because women have stood up for themselves to ensure political sanity in the United States and in the world. This will certainly mean that social policies will cease being biased against women in the future and that the concept of “a perfect union” would soon be realized. In the end, America will become one of the most balanced societies in the world in terms of social, economic as well as political issues.
In conclusion, economic issues have hindered women’s participation in national politics because the society did not accord women equal opportunities in employment. Yet still, women who have made it in politics are known for their sober approach to critical issues and sound judgment on matters of social and security policies. As a member of the U.S. Congress, Margaret made significant contribution to social and military policies while she served in the House Naval Affairs Committee. Thus, it can be accurately said that America will undoubtedly continue to produce more astute women politicians in the world. Currently, the most senior positions in the government are held by female politicians. For example, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Secretary of State, has shown that women can equally give good leadership.