WOMEN HAVE ALWAYS WANTED TO BE PRESIDENT - BUT ONLY ONE HAS COME SO CLOSE

First Lady of the United States Hillary Rodham Clinton giving her speech at the United Nations Fourth World Congress on Women in Beijing, China.

First Lady of the United States Hillary Rodham Clinton giving her speech at the United Nations Fourth World Congress on Women in Beijing, China.

Before women even had the right to vote in the United States females have been running for president. The earliest among them being suffragette and Equal Rights party nominee, Victoria Woodhull. In total, 18 women have vied for the White House, but none have come as close as Hillary Rodham Clinton. 

Last week Clinton accepted her party’s nomination against rival Republican nominee, Donald J. Trump. It’s the second time she’s run for the office in eight years, and it is a historic moment for everyone because the largest economic and social influencer in the world might finally have its first female president. 

This is hugely significant because Clinton is the first woman to win a major party nomination, which is difficult to do in our winner take all two party system where fringe candidates usually don’t get asked to debate, let a lone get their name on the ballot. Therefore, I felt it would be entertainingly educational if we took a moment to pay tribute to the women who came before Hillary, courtesy of the Huffington Post, starting with Woodhull.

A trailblazer, Victoria Woodhull ran for president in 1872 and chose Fredrick Douglas as her running mate. She was also one of the first female stockbrokers on wall street and it is reported that she was called “Wicked Woodhull” and that there was so much backlash to her candidacy that she couldn’t even rent an apartment in New York City. She was also jailed on election day because her magazine published an exposé criticizing one of her most vocal critics, Henry Beecher. Woodhull was arrested on the grounds that she had published “pornographic” material because she used the word "virginity" in writing about Beecher's philandering and hypocritical ways. (AmericanHistoryUSA.com) 

Less scandalous (that we know of) was Belva Ann Lockwood who was also nominated under the Equal Rights party in 1884, and was one of the only female practicing lawyers at the time in the United States. 

It took another eighty years before Margaret Chase Smith, who was the first woman elected to both the House and Senate, to make an attempt for the Republican party’s nomination in 1964. In 1972 three congresswomen went for the Democratic nomination: Bella Abzug, Patsy Mink, and Shirley Chisholm. That same year Linda Jenness tried to run under the Socialist Workers Party against Nixon, but was apparently too young for the office at 31 years of age. In 1984 Sonia Johnson ran for president under the Peace and Freedom party and in 1987 Patricia Schroeder sought the Democratic nomination of her party, but to no avail. In 1988 and 1992 Lenora Fulani ran under the American New Alliance Party and in 2000 Elizabeth Dole tried running for the Republican nomination, but dropped out due to a lack of money.   

Former Senator Carol Moseley Braun ran for the Democratic nomination in 2004, and in 2008 Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney secured the nomination for the Green Party while Hillary Clinton made her first attempt at the Democratic nomination, but lost to current President Barack Obama. Michele Bachmann ran for the Republican nomination in 2012 and won Iowa before dropping out, and even Comedian Roseanne Barr threw her hat in the ring that year, running under the Peace and Freedom party, although it might have been a joke. Jill Stein ran for president in 2012 under the Green Party and is also running in 2016; and finally, Carly Fiorina ran and lost in a very crowded Republican field this year, but a campaign highlight was when she made this very funny video about sexism in the workplace. 

If anything, the above reveals that women have long thought that they could be president, but perhaps it's society that wasn't ready. We’ve come along way from 1872 where women had few rights at all and working outside the home was not only an anomaly, but was frowned upon and discriminated against. This is all part of what makes Hillary Clinton's campaign for president even that much more noteworthy.  

Barack Obama became our nation's first African American president, and for much of the black community especially, he has been a symbol of hope and change. Hillary Clinton is that for many women, but let's not forget that Obama is still a man, which is who has ruled this country for 240 years.  

Symbolism is important, but Hillary's candidacy is more than that. It's historical and relevant yes, but it's a story of perseverance and courage. Clinton is a fighter and has not backed down. She has picked herself up, remained steadfast to her mission, and may be rewarded for all of her hard work and determination come November. Anyone, Republican, Green, or Democrat, can respect that. 

Now, even though I advocate for women to run for office, I do not advocate for people to vote solely based on gender. Should Hillary win the presidential election of 2016 it should be based on her accomplishments and political experience, and the belief that she can be an effective leader. The fact that she's a woman has only made this moment more difficult than it would have been for any man. 

So America, are we ready to elect our first female president or will we be waiting another 80 years before a women with enough experience, gumption and tenacity is willing to throw her hat in the ring? We shall see come November.    

Kiley Parker

Raising Ms. President HQ, 716 E Market St, Louisville, KY, 40202, United States

Kiley Lane Parker is a documentary and film director, producer, writer and editor. A journalism and political science graduate from the University of Colorado at Boulder, she began her career as a writer and production coordinator for Warren Miller Entertainment. After moving to Telluride, Colorado she became the production manager and senior producer, editor and on camera host for Plum TV. Now rooted in her home state of Kentucky, she has produced and directed several documentaries for Kentucky Educational Television and the web TV station, kyGREEN.tv, which she co-founded with her husband in 2010.