Last night Hillary Clinton broke through a glass ceiling when she was nominated the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate–the first woman named by a major political party for a presidential candidate. The first crack in that ceiling, however, came 136 years ago when Victoria Woodhull ran for the presidency in 1872, almost 50 years before women could legally vote for the president. That didn’t happen until 1920 after the 19th Amendment was ratified. With a platform of women’s suffrage and equal rights for women, Woodhull ran for the Equal Rights Party. She was paired with Frederick Douglass, former escaped slave and abolitionist author and speaker, against GOP Ulysses S. Grant and Democrat Horace Greeley. Obviously she lost, and her party picked Belva Ann Lockwood for its candidate 12 years later. No woman appeared on the presidential ticket until Geraldine Ferro was the vice-presidential candidate in 1984 and Sarah Palin in 2008.
Since Woodhull, other women have tried for the presidency. The first one on the ballot was Sen. Margaret Chase Smith (R-ME) who got 22 delegate votes from four states in 1964. Rep. Shirley Chisholm (D-NY), the first black person to run for the Democratic nomination, got 151.95 delegate votes from 26 states in 1972. The only other woman to receive delegate votes in a Democratic campaign, Ellen McCormack, got 27 delegate votes from five states in 1976. Women who did not run in the primaries for President have also got delegate votes at the Democratic Conventions: Barbara Jordan, 1 (1976); Koryne Horbal, 5 (1980); Martha Kirkland, 1 (1984); and Patricia Schroeder, 8 (1992).
The first women who appeared on the presidential ticket for a major political party were vice-presidential candidates—Geraldine Ferro in 1984 and Sarah Palin in 2008. Yesterday, however, Hillary Clinton garnered 2,842 delegate votes—2,205 of them pledged—compared to the 1,846 pledged delegates and 48 super delegates for Bernie Sanders. Fifty-five votes were abstentions. Clinton also Clinton won 16.8 million votes to 13.2 million for Sanders, about 55 percent of the vote to his 43 percent for a 12 percentage point gap.
Much was said from the Sanders’ side about the “rigged” election, but Sanders gained many of his delegate votes from caucuses, which do not represent the vote of these states. In fact, the two states that had both primaries and caucuses, Nebraska and Washington, showed that the majority of people voting in primaries supported Clinton although the Sanders picked up more votes from the caucuses in those states.
Those who think that the mainstream media has lost its sexism, however, should look at the photos on the front pages of major newspapers from the Wall Street Journal in New York to San Diego—moving through Washington, Detroit, Wisconsin, Chicago, Houston, and San Francisco—on up to Alaska. These newspapers put photos of Bill Clinton instead of the new Democratic presidential nominee, evidently believing that a male visual is more important than one of a female. The Oregonian, the largest newspaper in my state, went safe with a photograph of a man taking a back flip off a tree trunk into the water.
Trump photos make the front pages of newspapers when he’s done nothing; Hillary Clinton is overlooked despite her phenomenal background of public service. This reporting is sexism at its greatest. The Wall Street Journal did finally figure out its mistake and changed later editions. The Dallas Morning News was one of the few newspapers that understood the significance of yesterday’s Democratic nomination for the presidential candidate.
An interesting Wal-Mart story: In 1995, one of its Miramar (FL) stores pulled a popular T-shirt proclaiming “Someday a woman will be president” off its shelves. The store had sold about two-thirds of its 204 shirts before they were pulled , and a Wal-Mart spokeswoman explained that a customer had complained. Jane Bockholt said:
“It was determined the T-shirt was offensive to some people and so the decision was made to pull it from the sales floor.”
Ann Moliver Ruben, a 70-year-old psychologist when she created the shirt, designed the shirt with the child character Margaret from the cartoon strip Dennis the Menace. The figure making the proclamation had a big smile and her arms spread wide. Ruben had purchased the rights to use the drawing of Margaret and sold the shirts to women’s groups for between $10 and $15 before approaching Wal-Mart.
Protests forced the shirt back on the shelves, but Wal-Mart didn’t carry it long, saying that it didn’t sell. Recently, Ruben wrote a letter to the editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette describing the similarities between Dennis the Menace to Donald Trump. Today, the day after Hillary Clinton has become the Democratic presidential candidate, her shirt and her letter are even more appropriate. Right now there are none of these shirts for sale, but they may reappear soon!
Here’s part of that letter with the accompanying visual.
“Take a look at Dennis. He says he doesn’t know what a crepe suzette is but he knows that 8-year-old Margaret is a creep. He tells Margaret that he was her valentine last year and “haven’t I suffered enough?” When Margaret tells him she wants to be a nurse, he tells her, “You’d have plenty of work … you make people sick.” Finally, as Margaret is shown playing the accordion, he tells his 3-year-old friend, Joey, “She is no good at makin’ cookies, either.” Can’t you hear Donald Trump telling — what’s her name — that her face would stop a clock?
“Only Donald Trump, acting like 5-year-old Dennis, would mimick a disabled journalist and propose banning Muslims from entering this country and building a wall that Mexico would pay for. Unfortunately, he is incapable of owning up to the problems his words and his behavior cause.”
Thanks, Ms. Ruben! Now make more of those shirts!