The vulgarities are heaped on top of the hard headed belief of many men and women that a woman just doesn’t have the right stuff to be the nation’s commander in chief. Chelsea would have gotten a healthy lesson in Sexism 101 if she had glanced at polls, and that includes a CBS News poll taken just a week before her talk, that have consistently shown that far more Americans have a bigger problem voting for a woman for president than an African-American. The worst part of this is that if any one dared make a racial crack about Barack Obama they’d be pounded into the sand.
That year Reagan got more than a 20 percent bulge in the margin of male votes over Carter. Women voters by contrast split almost evenly down the middle in backing both Reagan and Carter. Men didn’t waver from their support of Reagan during his years in office. Many of the men that backed Reagan made no secret about why they liked him. His reputed toughness, firmness and refusal to compromise on issues of war and peace fit neatly into the often time stereotypical male qualities of professed courage, determination and toughness. The gender split is always apparent when there’s a crisis such as a brush fire war, a physical conflict, or the threat of a terrorist attack. Even before he took office, pollsters noted that far more women than men openly worried that Reagan would get us into a war.
This was not a major concern for men.
The divergence between men and women on the issue of war and peace showed up again in even more stark contrast two decades later on the Iraq war. Polls showed gaps of nearly twenty percent between men and women when asked how long they thought American troops should stay in Iraq. Far more women than men said that the troops should be withdrawn as quickly as possible. The huge spread in male and female views on public policy issues was just as pronounced in the terrorism war. More men than women by nearly 20 percent took a harder stance against nations that they perceive back terrorist groups.In countless surveys, polls, and anecdotal conversations, women say they are less likely to stay up on political issues than men, and are more likely to vote for a candidate based on personal likes or dislikes than men.
Since then other Republicans at times artfully stoked male rage with racially charged slogans like "law and order," "crime in the streets," "welfare cheats," and "absentee fathers." Bush's John Wayne frontier brashness, and get tough, bring em' on rhetoric in talking about the Iraq and the war against terrorism was calculatingly geared to appeal to supposed male toughness.The endemic sexism buried deep in the skulls of many American voters alone won’t sink Clinton.
It’s just simply another X factor for Clinton that Obama and McCain don’t have to worry about.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His new book is The Ethnic Presidency: How Race Decides the Race to the White House (Middle Passage Press, February 2008).