The Fluidity of the Politician
I live in a town where Bernie Sanders merchandise adorns front yards and backpacks, school clubs like the GTSA (Gay-Trans-Straight Alliance) and Students Against Human Trafficking have the largest followings, introducing yourself with pronouns is required, and discussions on issues like the refugee crisis and racial inequality are held in both the classroom and the cafeteria. It’s a liberal bubble in a world with increasingly pervasive conservatism, and while many members of my town are wonderfully open about acceptance of liberal issues, kids at school are ostracized for identifying as Republican. People have trouble accepting views that are not the same as theirs, no matter how conservative or liberal their personal views are. Because of this mentality, “Republican,” ever since I was little, has held a strong, negative connotation, something I have fought to reverse for much of my adolescent life. Taking my upbringing into account, it may seem strange that I have a great deal of respect for Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina. Let me explain why.
I’ll begin with the more prominent female presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, who also holds my favor. Despite the email scandal, which I’m glad is mostly out of the news, I respect Clinton for her promised agenda that is closely aligned with my own views--she supports Planned Parenthood and the right to choose. She was in favor of the SCOTUS decision to nationally legalize gay marriage. She’s also promised to fight for equal pay for women in this country.
And that’s all awesome.
Let’s switch gears to look at former Hewlett-Packard CEO, Carly Fiorina. In nearly everything except gender, Fiorina is Clinton’s polar opposite. She believes that both Roe vs. Wade and the 2015 SCOTUS decision on gay marriage should be overturned, and that gun access is a right that everyone, even those on the no-fly list, should have. I don’t agree with a word of her politics, but for a woman swimming in the dangerous waters of the male-dominated political and business world, Carly Fiorina has done amazing things. In 1999 she became the first woman to lead a Top 20 company. She went on to rank number one on Fortune Magazine’s list of the most powerful women in business, was named a TIME100 Most Influential Person in 2004, and was named the tenth most powerful woman in the world by Forbes Magazine that same year.
Fiorina appeared on my personal radar when she responded beautifully to Donald Trump’s comment about her appearance—“Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!” He later insisted this was about her persona, and not about her personal appearance. During the September 16th debate, Fiorina was asked to comment on Trump’s persona. While she could have said many, many things, she responded, “I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.” This is not passive! This is not apologetic! These are the words of a female powerhouse!
In order to achieve a truly equal political playing field, we need conservative women like Fiorina in the public eye. Female politicians are often expected to have similar opinions, especially when it comes to women’s issues. Candidates like Fiorina show that women can be on all ends of the political spectrum, and can have varying views on the issues, even on those that concern their own bodies. All women think differently and ingest different things from their backgrounds--so it isn’t plausible that all female politicians will be on the same page.
If I were old enough to vote, I probably wouldn’t vote for Carly Fiorina. But I respect her accomplishments and what she’s been able to achieve as a woman in the political realm. I hope that one day, women like Fiorina and Clinton will not be seen as females breaking ground in a man’s world, but simply as politicians. If every female politician was a liberal machine, views like pro-choice would be categorized as “the women’s view.” By deconstructing this stereotype, Fiorina helps to create a more diverse political battleground that will continue to inspire debate among all the candidates running for president this year.
This piece was written as part of JWA’s Rising Voices Fellowship.
How to cite this page
Groustra, Sarah. "The Fluidity of the Politician." 20 January 2016. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on July 7, 2020) <https://jwa.org/blog/risingvoices/fluidity-of-politician>.