The Most Qualified Candidate

I’m both energized and slightly enraged today by the chatter around Hillary Clinton’s campaign to be our first female President. In considering a candidate I look for intellect, for compassion, for experience, for humor, for empathy, for social skills, for oratory skills, for diplomatic skills. Will I vote for Hillary because she’s a woman? No. Is it a negative? No. Is it a positive? Yes. Will I vote for Hillary because she has the qualities I’m looking for in a President? Yes.

I remember not long ago, a candidate for President was criticized for having an Ivy League education. The fact is that I prefer my President to have an Ivy League education. I want my President to be the smartest person in the room. I want a President who can win Jeopardy.

Some women today may run from the label “feminist” but I see “feminism” as alive, well and thankfully evolving with each generation. Of course we care about our place at the table, our voice in government, our reproductive rights as we did when I was in my 20’s and 30’s but we will no longer stay silent about sexual assault on college campuses, sexual harassment in the work place, domestic violence or discrimination based on race, religion and sexual preference. Today we are fighting for equal pay for equal work, as we never have before.

As Emma Watson famously said to the UN General Assembly in September 2015 “If you stand for equality, you are a feminist.” Today we also want men to be part of the movement. As Emma also said that day as she launched the HeForShe campaign "How can we effect change in the world when only half of it is invited or feel welcome to participate in the conversation?"

“You must be so happy” is what a relative said to me that summer day in 2008 when John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate. She assumed I would want to vote for that ticket because a woman was on it. I didn’t feel bullied by the comment. I simply wasn’t impressed.

What I am impressed by is Hillary’s long resume. I am energized to be able to vote for the most highly qualified candidate I’ve seen in decades who just happens to be a woman. Being a woman makes her, in my mind, more qualified.

Following the campaign closely, it seems clear that Hillary Clinton is being scrutinized and held to a higher standard because she is a woman. Because she is a woman, her qualifications somehow must be stronger, bigger, better, bolder than her male competitors. Has anyone dismissed a previous candidate with such ease that was both a Senator and Secretary of State? I see chatter that it might be better if she were more, more than this.

The fact that it has been 227 years since our first Presidential election and we have yet to elect a woman is not a fact our country should embrace with pride. In 1995, I remember attending a conference where Mary Robinson, President of Ireland was our speaker. I had chills as we stood and she walked into the room. That was 21 years ago. Today there are 24 female Heads of State around the world including Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. Brazil, Croatia, South Korea, Norway, Poland, Malta, Nepal, Chile are only a few nations who today have women leaders. We can’t forget India’s Indira Gandhi leading her nation in the 1960’s, Golda Meir leading Israel in the 70’s and Margaret Thatcher leading Great Britain in the 80’s.

Let’s leave our puritan roots behind, make history and elect Hillary Clinton President because she is best equipped to lead our nation.

-- Ellie Badanes is 59, a business owner, and lives in Connecticut.

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