Quantcast
Connect with us

Why Hillary Clinton’s promise of a gender-equal cabinet is so shrewd

Published

on

- Commentary

At a recent “Town Hall” debate Hillary Clinton announced that she would appoint a cabinet that is half female if she is elected president. When questioned by MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, Clinton pledged: “Well, I am going to have a cabinet that looks like America, and 50% of America is women, right?”

Given that Clinton is the Democrats’ almost-certain nominee and is given a healthy chance against any likely Republican contender – Trump in particular – 2017 could be the year that America inaugurates its first female president, and has its first gender-parity cabinet.

ADVERTISEMENT

This would be a first for America. In total, of the 558 Americans who have served in the US cabinet since 1776, only 29 have been women. Just four of the 15 current cabinet secretaries are female.

Internationally, pre-election pledges for gender equality in the most powerful offices of state have become increasingly common. In 2004, Spanish prime ministerial hopeful Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero made this pledge before his election and went on to appoint Spain’s first gender-parity cabinet. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau famously pledged in 2015 that half of his cabinet would be female. He made good on that pledge, and when asked why, simply replied: “Because it’s 2015.”

Yet deploying cabinet appointments as electoral strategy is not just the province of the left. David Cameron also pledged in 2008 that one third of his cabinet ministers would be female by the end of his first term in office – and once he had control of all cabinet appointments in 2015, that standard was met.

But why has Clinton felt the need to join the fray? Clearly she feels the pressure to demonstrate her commitment to gender equality, so the particular politics of the 2016 race are at work here.

ADVERTISEMENT

Clinton has struggled to win over young female progressive voters from self-proclaimed “democratic socialist” Bernie Sanders, and now his chances of winning are fading away, the pledge will fit well into her push to win them over for the general election.

However, Clinton has also felt this pressure simply because she’s a female candidate. Whereas she declined to allude explicitly to her gender for most of the 2008 campaign, Clinton has been clear about her perception of feminism, and has sought to use her female identity in her electoral strategy. Donald Trump and other Republicans have derided her use of the “woman card”, but she’s managed to turn it into a compliment.

There is also an important political contrast to be drawn here. It’s highly unlikely that we’ll see such a commitment from Trump or his principal Republican rival, Ted Cruz. Clinton, by contrast, isn’t just positioning herself as the “woman candidate”, she’s trying to set herself apart from the hard-line conservatism of her opponents.

ADVERTISEMENT

Under pressure

Women’s representation in government has become an important measure of a leader’s attitudes to equality and diversity in representation more generally, and executive appointments all over the world are increasingly scrutinised for their gender balance. If enacted, Clinton’s pledge will also bring the US up to par with the aspirations of other countries’ party leaders, especially on the progressive side.

More than ever, party leaders, national media, and electorates expect that the cabinet will represent the gender balance of the nation, and whether the women appointed actually hold power equivalent to their male colleagues. (Just ask British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.)

So what are the numbers Clinton is looking at? A US president’s cabinet comprises the heads of 15 executive departments, the vice-president, and seven additional cabinet-rank positions. There has been speculation that Clinton will choose a female running mate, which would leave seven cabinet secretary positions to be allocated to women.

ADVERTISEMENT

Clinton, herself only the third female secretary of state, will be conscious of the fact that the senate, whatever its makeup in January 2017, will have to approve all of her cabinet nominees. But there’s no shortage of competent female candidates for these roles, and with the increasing probability that the Democrats will take control of the senate once again, this should not be such a hurdle.

The real test isn’t just whether Clinton can keep her promise, but whether candidates in future elections find themselves under pressure to follow her lead. And now she’s gone on the record with her commitment, Clinton will certainly be held to account for it if she’s elected.

The Conversation

ADVERTISEMENT

Dee Goddard, PhD Candidate, University of Kent

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and legal efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. And unlike other news outlets, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from billionaires and corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click to donate by check.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



Report typos and corrections to: [email protected]. Send news tips to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Conservative columnist blasts GOP as ‘partisan hacks for whom hypocrisy is second-nature’

Published

on

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump once again ripped into The Squad, this time to undercut an emotional press conference in which Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MN) described the conditions her Palestinian relatives live under.

“Sorry, I don’t buy Rep. Tlaib’s tears. I have watched her violence, craziness and, most importantly, WORDS, for far too long,” the president tweeted. “Now tears? She hates Israel and all Jewish people. She is an anti-Semite. She and her 3 friends are the new face of the Democrat Party. Live with it!”

Sorry, I don’t buy Rep. Tlaib’s tears. I have watched her violence, craziness and, most importantly, WORDS, for far too long. Now tears? She hates Israel and all Jewish people. She is an anti-Semite. She and her 3 friends are the new face of the Democrat Party. Live with it!

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump’s Labor Department wants to ‘weaponize’ right-wing discrimination and bigotry

Published

on

Just in case you wanted to believe that the Trump administration isn’t on a campaign to trample rights for Americans, here comes the Labor Department to shove a grapefruit in your face.

Labor officials have made public a new rule—no Congress, needed, thank you—to allow companies contracting with the federal government who are “religion-exercising organizations” to ignore federal laws protecting the rights of gays, transsexuals, and who knows who else in hiring or workplace practices. Religious employers and companies with “closely held” religious ties now will be shielded from claims of bias in court or other law enforcement actions, says the rule.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Has Trump really built a ‘movement’? Be afraid — it will outlast his presidency

Published

on

Last Thursday, Donald Trump took his political rodeo to New Hampshire. As usual, he told lies about the Democratic Party being dominated by "socialists" and "hating" America, bragged about the size of the crowd, and threatened that if he is not re-elected in 2020 the United States will face economic ruin. The Trumpian faithful were greatly entertained.

The "highlight" of the event was when Trump taunted a "protester":

But while the Democrats rage and rages — that guy has got a serious weight problem. Go home, start exercising. Get him out of here, please. Got a bigger problem than I do. Got a bigger problem than all of us. Now he goes home and his mom says, what the hell have you just done?

Continue Reading
 
 

Thank you for whitelisting Raw Story!

As a special thank you, from now until August 31st, we're offering you a discounted rate of $5.99/month to subscribe and get ad-free access. We're honored to have you as a reader. Thank you. :) —Elias, Membership Coordinator
LEARN MORE
close-link
close-image