Thursday, November 09, 2006

Fewer tears ahead

"Madame Speaker."

Makes my eyes well up with tears just thinking about that phrase. I cried while watching Nancy Pelosi interviewed this morning, as she discussed the job ahead and her own personal feelings about the transition to a Democratic majority, and what it meant to her to be the presumptive Speaker of the House.

The first woman Speaker of the House.

As parents, many of us tell our kids, "You can be anything you want to be, if you want it badly enough and work hard." But that hasn't been true, for all our motivational speechifying. The upper echelons of politics in the U.S. have remained out of reach -- for women. Just look at the numbers, at the disparity between the percentage of women in Congress and their numbers in the overall population. There's an enormous gap, particularly in the Senate, but still a large gap in Congress overall. Let's not even talk about the White House or the Office of the Vice President; the last time a woman had a crack at either of these jobs was twenty years ago.

For the last dozen years I have assured my daughter and my son they could be whatever they chose, knowing that it was a hollow statement. For my son, certainly, the presidency and anything below it could be his if he chose politics. But for my daughter? I had to hope that the passing years would prove my words true.

As of yesterday, I am vindicated, at least when it comes to the House of Representatives.

Surely it will not take another dozen years to be vindicated about the Senate and the White House...

In the meantime, yes, my daughter, you too can become Speaker of the House if you so choose, with education, hard work, and the support of constituents.

What a relief.

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