Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Woman In Leadership

Benazir Bhutto was killed today.

I know who she is not because of her recent return to Pakistan and her opposition to Musharraf, but because when I was in college, she became president of Pakistan. I didn't know that the president in most countries that have them don't have the same kind of power that the president of the US does, and while I was aware that she wasn't in the same league exactly as Ronald Reagan, she was the president.

Of Pakistan, a country founded for Muslims, whose religion is famous for its lack of recognition of women's rights.

It seemed to me that if a Muslim country could elect a female president, then the US should be able to as well. Yet, twenty years later there has still been no female executive of the US. It seems to me that the only woman with power in front of the scenes ever has been Condoleeza Rice. The current election, which will hopefully be over about this time next year, includes a woman and people are still asking if Americans will vote for a woman, as if that is a core part of her electability. I don't know if it is - I doubt many people would admit to phone pollsters that they wouldn't vote for a woman, just because she is a woman ("She's a Clinton" they'll say).

Bhutto really made an impression on me. If a woman could make it in Karachi, a woman could make it anywhere, I thought.

An unrelated-but-related note on Bhutto is this: We don't have a lot of difference between the major parties and there's too many similarities and too much back-and-forth between the candidates, and way too few people vote, but candidates don't get killed at political rallies and voters don't get beaten when they leave the polls. This isn't a very high bar, but I think it reflects how stable our democracy is. Imperfect though it is, too.

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