First Female President: Who’s it Going to Be? | Sarah Stook

2016 could have been a historical year for shattering what some dub to be ‘the glass ceiling.’ On November 8th, millions queued up to vote in one of the most fascinating and divisive elections ever.

One such candidate was Hillary Rodham Clinton. A veteran politician, her rallying cry of ‘I’m With Her’ emphasised the role of gender in the race. The possibility of a woman reaching the highest office in the land excited many, and on that day, the grave of suffragette Susan B. Anthony was decorated with ‘I Voted’ stickers.  We all know how it turned out. The voters wanted her, but the electoral college did not, and Donald Trump was elected. It’s unlikely that Hillary will run for President again.

With Clinton resigned to a life outside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, many will wonder who the first female President will be. Of course, the gender should not matter, but given that the President is commonly seen as the most powerful person in the world, it seems best to wonder when a woman will occupy that position. With the UK boasting two female Heads of Government- and a long term Head of State- when will our Atlantic cousins catch up?

Many names are thrown around, but let’s see what the likelihood of those names becoming President will be.

Democrats:

Elizabeth Warren- Senator of Massachusetts, Warren has made a name for herself as a strong advocate for the working and middle classes, as well as her outspoken views on consumer protection and Wall Street. A vocal critic of Donald Trump, it is interesting to note how she was cautious in endorsing Clinton until all fifty states had voted in the primaries. In terms of position, she can be regarded as between Bernie Sanders and Clinton on the scale, with the term ‘progressive’ tacked onto her name. Word on the street was that she had been on the short list for Clinton’s VP slot, but she was of course eventually shafted in favour of ‘America’s Dad’ Tim Kaine.

Why She Could/Couldn’t: Warren appeals to the left due to her progressive stature, especially regarding education and social issues, such as abortion. She is outspoken at every turn, and will definitely turn on those who look for someone to be the ‘voice of the people.’ Whilst she is not as politically experienced at Clinton, she is a Senior Senator, and was one of the most cited law experts of her time. This strong progressiveness, however, may alienate those right of centre, especially the wealthy and social conservatives. Wall Street has already made her an enemy, which is certain to turn some against her. Furthermore, she has caused controversy by proclaiming herself a minority due to Native American heritage, as well as accepting a career as a Harvard lecturer when she criticises rising student debt.

Likeliness: 7/10. Warren definitely has a shot due to her position in the Democratic Party, and previous positions, however, she has ruled out ever running for the highest office in the land. Furthermore, the rise of both Trump and Sanders has shown America’s disdain for establishment politicians.

 

Kirsten Gillibrand- Senator of New York, and former Representative for New York’s 20th district. Like many politicians, Gillibrand enjoyed a career in law before turning to politics. Gillibrand, like Warren, also has links to Clinton, having worked on her 2000 Senate campaign- making it all the more special that she took her seat when Clinton was made Secretary of State. When she was sworn in aged 42, in 2009, she was the youngest Senator of the 111th Congress.

Why She Could/Couldn’t: Gillibrand started life as a Blue Dog, but soon became more liberal in the upper house. The reason is simple- her congressional district is a conservative one, but New York tends to be more liberal- at least NYC. Supporters may appreciate her shifting position, but when critics accuse her of flip-flopping; it’s a tough act to follow. If Gillibrand appeals to anyone, it’ll be centrists, Reagan Democrats and Rockefeller Republicans. With an increasingly liberal social stance mixed with fiscal economics, Gillibrand best appeals to hybrid voters.

Likeliness: 6/10. Young and keen, Gillibrand may well rise through the ranks of the Democrats. Like Clinton, she has the benefit of coming from a state with a large number of Electoral College votes, integral for any future election. On the downside, Gillibrand will not appeal to a broad range of voters. The senator has announced that she does not intend to run in 2020, so any possible race will not be run by the rising star until 2024.

 

Tammy Duckworth- Senator for Illinois, and former Congresswoman for Illinois’ 8th District. Duckworth has the honour of being the first disabled woman elected to the House of Representatives, being a double amputee due to service in Iraq. After a military career, Duckworth turned to politics, culminating in her becoming a Senator this year.

Why She Could/Couldn’t: Endorsed by liberal groups such as EMILY’s List, Tamworth displays typical views expected of a Democrat. If one looks at her record, they’ll put her to the left, which means up she can sweep up Sanders voters- the young, who can often be kingmakers will appreciate her. In 2008 and 2012, Obama achieved 95% of the African-American vote, meaning that the Asian-American Duckworth could achieve a significant minority group. Furthermore, her status as a veteran could convert some wavering centrists who respect her. Similarly to Warren, she will struggle to achieve the vote of the right, and would possibly not get many centrists due to how far she is on the political scale.

Likeliness: 4/10. Duckworth has the experience and drive for the job, and people shouldn’t be ready to disregard her. To those more on the left, she’d be great after the more centrist views of Clinton. Still, she’s only a first term Senator and has a lot to learn. Like Gillibrand, she will more likely run in 2024 onwards, but by then, others may have earned their stripes.

 

Caroline Kennedy- Former US Ambassador to Japan. With the surname Kennedy, we all know her family legacy. Kennedy is closest to it most, being JFK’s only surviving child after the death of JFK Jr in 1999, and the infant deaths of Patrick and Arabella. Kennedy was considered for Clinton’s vacant Senate seat, but withdrew. Instead, she became US Ambassador to Japan, whilst being a voice for her family’s complicated legacy. In the 2008 and 2012 elections, she was a fierce advocate of Obama.

Why She Could/Couldn’t: Though she hadn’t held elected office, Kennedy’s wealth of non-political experience is not one to be ignored. In her role as Ambassador to Japan, she worked closely with their government to strengthen relations in regards to the American bombings during WW2, as well as alliterating their opposition to nuclear weapons. Her views, however, are not well-known, which may confuse voters. Furthermore, she is part of the political dynasty, one which divides many both left and right. America, as well learned from Clinton and Jeb Bush’s run, is tired of dynasties.

Likeliness: 2/10. Kennedy did show some interest in Clinton’s Senate seat in 2008, but that was nine years ago. Since finishing as Ambassador, Kennedy has not expressed any interest in anything remotely Presidential, and even if she did, it would be unlikely that she got very far. Being the daughter of a most beloved President isn’t going to get her very far.

 

Patty Murray-US Senator for Washington State. Though not a well-known political name, at least on this side of the pond, she has served in the Senate since 1992, and is its highest ranking female. Since her election, she has been re-elected four times, with an increased vote share between 2010 and 2016. In 2013, she and Paul Ryan managed to work together to create a Bipartisan Budget. Murray is now Senate Assistant Democratic Leader.

Why She Could/Couldn’t: A veteran politican, Murray’s twenty-five year term in the Senate means she has more than enough experience of policy making. The Senator has worked in various positions in Congress- from budgeting to armed forces affairs, meaning she is well-versed in policy. On the flip-side, her highly liberal on matters such as birth control, where she will anger conservatives with her belief in forcing religious employers to provide it. Again, being a long-term politician may serve her a disservice, as America seems to be tiring of them- see John McCain on the other side of the aisle.

Likeliness: 2/10. Though she wouldn’t be the first dark horse to run for President, it is yet to be seen whether she could pull off a Trump. Murray hasn’t said anything in regards to running for President, and seems to be happy in her safe Senate seat.

 

Republicans:

Nikki Haley- US Ambassador to the United Nations, former Governor of South Carolina and Congresswoman. An Indian-American Sikh who converted to Christianity upon marriage, Haley is a pretty staunch conservative on everything from abortion to illegal immigration. She has risen through the ranks to become an important female Republican, on par with others such as Sarah Palin. In 2012, she almost followed Palin when it was discovered that Mitt Romney had considered asking her to join him on the ticket, though we know nothing came of it.

Why She Could/Couldn’t: Haley has a sparkling résumé in terms of political and elected office, as seen by her current and vital role as US Ambassador. A high profile role, Haley has stepped onto an important platform in wish to air her views. Along with other politicians such as Ted Cruz, she is the daughter of immigrants- a representation of the American dream. She will be able to grab the votes of strong conservatives, though she may be able to break ranks if voters assess her opposition to transgender bathroom legislation. On the note, she may struggle to gain centrists, and her strong rhetoric on a variety of issues could turn off swing voters. Reducing the tax burden on the wealthy may also be a concern for lower income voters, especially those who may have swung to Trump.

Likeliness: 8/10. Though it may not be in 2020- Trump, barring a catastrophe- will probably run again, keeping her in her current role- Haley is a strong contender in the future. Her rejection of Vice Presidential positions may be a hint that she wants an office higher than that.  Younger than many others listed-she is 45 at the time of writing- she could be a contender for many years to come. Haley’s conservative baseline could be a potential launch pad for a future Republican presidency.

 

Michele Bachmann- Former Congresswoman for Minnesota, she is as synonymous with the right as Warren is with the left. A founder and member of the Tea Party Congress, Bachmann is more of a conservative than Haley is, and takes pride in this. Bachmann ran for President in 2012, but finished only sixth in Iowa, leading her to drop out of the race. She retired from the House in 2014, though has remained in politics.

Why She Could/Couldn’t: Bachmann would bring the evangelical Christian vote to the table in a way Ted Cruz failed to in 2016. As a member of the Tea Party Caucus, she has the advantage of being part of a majority elderly faction- a faction that is known for high voter turnout. Conservative Republicans angered by the rise of Trump may use her as a fall back. Conversely, it will be fairly difficult for Bachmann to get any non-partisan voters anymore left of mid-right, due to her strong conservatism. The former Congresswoman has landed in some hot water for her comments about homosexuality, which may throw off some LGBT Republicans and swing voters.

Likeliness: 7/10. Bachmann, though retired from Congress, didn’t rule out a future run for the White House, and she has the experience of an election under her belt. Active in Tea Party politics, she is definitely one to watch out for. She is more likely to go for 2020 than Haley due to her not having a permanent position in the administration, that is if Trump does not go for a second term. All we need to do is wait.

 

Sarah Palin- Former Governor of Alaska, and former VP candidate under John McCain in 2008. Most people know her as the ‘I can see Russia from my house’ lady, or remember Tina Fey’s SNL impressions, but we cannot forget her role as a prominent female Republican. Similarly to Bachmann, she is part of the Tea Party Movement, and a darling of the Christian right. Her personal life has been similarly marred in controversy, such as the announcement of her teenager daughter’s unplanned, pre-marital pregnancy. Luckily, the times have changed and the splash did not get her too drenched.

Why She Could/Couldn’t: Palin is already a force to be reckoned with in the Republican Party, which means she wouldn’t have worry too much about donors or media attention. She made Trump supporters happy when she endorsed his Presidency, though she has been a little critical of him as of late. The Tea Party Movement will definitely put some gear behind her too. Unfortunately, some see Palin as old news, and she is often mocked, especially after media attention. Perhaps all her attention went on 2008.

Likeliness: 5/10. Palin’s spark sure hasn’t fizzled out yet, so there’s still a reasonable chance she could be a 2020 or 2024. Still, Palin has a long way to go to earn back some trust, and she hasn’t actually indicated any plans of running again. It could happen, but there’s an equal chance it won’t.

 

Ann Coulter- Notable conservative activist and author. Coulter is what many picture when they hear the words ‘female conservative,’ along with the late Phyllis Schlafly, and now firebrand Tomi Lahren. She came to public attention when criticising Bill Clinton and his liaisons in the 1990s, and now works in the media. Coulter follows the party line in many ways- strongly pro-choice, against amnesty for illegals, but also counters it in requesting literacy test for voters. She has been accused of racism before, but it hasn’t stopped her from being a popular political commentator.

Why She Could/Couldn’t: Coulter has no political experience under her belt, but that didn’t stop Trump sweeping to victory. She may grab the votes that the white women placed in the 45th President, those who rejected Clinton’s feminist persona (Coulter does not refer to herself as a feminist), as well as those traditional politics who may have been put off by the seemingly more liberal Trump. Again though, the lack of experience may be used against her, and she may put off centrists and more moderate Republicans.

Likeliness: 4/10. Coulter could be a Fiorina, a conservative woman with no political experience who rises through the ranks. Though she has never expressed any interest in becoming POTUS, it wouldn’t the biggest surprise if she did. Still, Coulter seems pretty happy being a critic, and she’s unlikely to stop soon.

 

Susan Collins- Senator for Maine. If one wants to know what a true moderate is, they can look no further than Collins. She’s pro-choice, in favour of gay marriage and is in favour of expanded background check for gun owners. Collins often votes against her party, and has worked with Democrats in the past. As the only Republican Senator representing New England, it shows. Some even joke that she should be a Democrat.

Why She Could/Couldn’t:  Collins has managed to stay as Republican in a highly liberal area, so she may sweep up states that are usually Democrat. Furthermore, she may be highly accessible to swing voters and centrists, who may fall into line with her moderate positions. The Log Cabin Republicans- LGBT members of the GOP- may also endorse her. Sadly, she is far too liberal for most Republicans, and it’s highly unlikely that she’d get through the primaries or even receive delegate pledges. Unless her opponent was extremely left-wing, she wouldn’t stand a chance, especially if an independent as big as Teddy Roosevelt or Ross Perot stood in.

Likeliness: 2/10. Though she is looking at running for Governor of Maine in 2018, she could have higher aims. If she goes run in the gubernatorial election and win, however, she will be 70 by the time it is over, and nearly 72 when 2024 rolls around. Though Trump and Reagan were older when elected, she may choose not to if she feels age will limit her. Furthermore, whilst Collins may be popular in Maine, she will also be painfully aware the nationwide Republican voters may see her as too moderate, limiting her chances of White House glory.

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