Home > gender issues, politics, remember > Belated Thoughts on Ferraro

Belated Thoughts on Ferraro

Tuesday, March 29, 2011, 17:09 EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

Ferraro '84 campaign buttonThe anniversary of the Reagan shooting (see previous post) isn’t the only news event I am late in blogging about. Last Saturday’s death of former U.S. Rep. Geraldine Ferraro is also noteworthy, since Ferraro was the first woman on a major party’s presidential ticket when she was chosen as Walter Mondale’s running mate in 1984.

I voted for the Democratic ticket of Mondale and Ferraro that year, the first in which I was eligible to vote in a presidential election. It wasn’t that I didn’t have serious disagreements with them on some policy issues, but I still didn’t quite trust the incumbent Ronald Reagan and was willing to put my differences with the Dems aside to cast a protest vote. Besides, I admired the way Ferraro stood up to the flack she got from many fronts, having to defend herself from criticism about the actions of her spouse in a way that no male candidate ever had to. I remember being incensed that so much of the discussion about Ferraro seemed to be about her appearance when talk of the same issues in regard to Mondale would have been seen as ridiculous. I thought back to that time in 2008, when former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s critics-in-training, having not yet manufactured the meme that Palin was stupid, decided to knock her hair style and her glasses and her wardrobe. In the 24 years since Ferraro made history, not a lot had changed.

Ferraro was pleased to see Palin get the vice-presidential nod from the Republican side three years ago, saying at the time, “It’s great to be the first, but y’know, I don’t want to be the only.” I’m quite sure that the liberal Democrat didn’t vote for McCain and Palin, but she understood the essential unfairness with which ambitious female politicians are still treated because she walked that road. It’s too bad she didn’t live to see the final barrier overcome.

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