Candidates More than Just a Face

Photo by Frank Plitt / Wikimedia Commons Hillary Clinton  recently announced her support of marriage equality, citing constitutional and personal reasons.

Photo by Frank Plitt / Wikimedia Commons Hillary Clinton recently announced her support of marriage equality, citing constitutional and personal reasons.

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By Marcelle Meyer

Loretta Lynch was recently named United States Attorney General and is the first African American woman to serve in this position. This is not news to many people. The media has been buzzing with the usual headlines that are pulled out whenever a groundbreaking event for a minority group happens. The problem with this is that I have heard very little about Loretta Lynch herself. This woman who was nominated and approved by both houses of Congress must certainly have some interesting characteristics other than her gender and race. Has American culture become too focused on a candidate’s face at the expense of their policies?

“It’s time we had a woman in the White House!” an enthusiastic volunteer called to me from her “Ready for Hillary” table. Of course, statistically, there should be more women in government. More than half of the country is made up of women, and Congress and the executive branch should represent that. However, as a woman, I become somewhat offended when people tell me to “put a woman in the White House.”

One reason for this is the fact that issues still matter. When gender or race completely dominate the conversation, important issues fall out of it. All things equal, would I prefer a female president? Yes. Is the choice ever that simple? No.

Hillary Clinton has built much of her public image around being an advocate for women’s issues. However, there are some contradicting stories. The Clinton Foundation accepts donations from several countries, such as Saudi Arabia, with policies that systematically discriminate against women. It is also hard to wipe away the infamous “bimbo eruptions,” in which Hillary has been accused of attacking sexually-harassed women to protect her husband’s political career.

Additionally, Clinton has been attacked in the past for focusing on policies that favor middle-class white women.

It cannot be denied that Hillary Clinton has a history of advocating for women’s healthcare and pro-women policies; however, many men have a similar record. Assuming that women ought to be in favor of a female candidate by virtue of her gender alone is simply insulting. National policies and presidential elections require a much more nuanced analysis than the simple “it’s time we had a woman in the White House!”

As hard as it is to believe, we women can do lots of crazy things like read, write and form educated opinions about what kinds of policy initiatives we want the future president to prioritize. Diversity is always a good thing, but a candidate who tries to turn gender into political power neglects the diversity of opinions women have about politics. There are many reasons to be “Ready for Hillary,” and focusing on those creates better political dialogue for everyone.