Should a woman replace Hillary Clinton?

Karol Collymore

Currently in the United States Senate, there are 17 women. Currently in America, women make up 50.7% of the population. Living in this representative democracy, I would assume gender will come into consideration when Governor Patterson is making his decision. Caroline Kennedy aside and all other things being equal, should gender be a factor in replacing Hillary Clinton?

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    What a can of beans, Karol. The professor bug bites again!

    You are assuming a "descriptive" model of representation--that a legislature should "look like" (demographically reflect) the makeup of the population.

    And that is because why? Superior policy? Policies that more closely mirror the desires of the electorate?

    Then you write "living in this representative democracy, I would assume gender will come into consideration..."

    How does the first part fit with the second?

    One might say say "living in this representative democracy" then "I am outraged that we allow an appointment at all and that we should elect the replacement." But I'm not sure how "representative democracy" squares with "you must replace a woman with another woman."

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    I would think it'd be up to New Yorkers. There are good arguments to be made for why women in general should not be automatically dismissed from consideration. But ultimately only New Yorkers can credibly speak to what criteria should be used.

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    Professor, I love beans, in fact I had some for lunch today. I'm just asking the question. I'll let you all debate the answers. The law says governors appoint senate replacements so I'm not stirring up that point. Or, maybe I am? But I am interested in hearing what people think "representation" means.

  • Sam D. (unverified)
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    I didn't think you could hire / not hire someone based on the race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation?

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    paul g wrote: "I'm not sure how 'representative democracy' squares with 'you must replace a woman with another woman.'"

    The deeper question is: who do our representatives represent, when elected? If it's only the geographic district which elected them, minorities dispersed relatively equally throughout the population (such as the GLBT population) will rarely, if ever, be represented by people who personally share their perspective.

    On the other hand, if we accept that our elected officials represent more than mere geography, then aren't other representational factors, such as gender, relevant?

  • mp97303 (unverified)
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    Should a woman replace Hillary Clinton? Only if they are the most qualified candidate.

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    Just one more point: I would appreicate that on this point we don't assume that a woman may not be as qualified. I'd like to lead the charge in 2009 where we stop acting as if this is the case when it relates to women, people of color or gays.

    Let's go on a limb and assume we are all equally qualified on paper and the only thing to debate is gender.

  • YoungOregonMoonBat (unverified)
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    The first factor that Governor Patterson should consider is what potential candidate in New York will run against him when he is up for re-election.

    As Machiavellian as this thinking is, the first duty of Governor Patterson is securing his position so that he can continue to serve the people of New York as their Governor.

    If this potential rival "happens to be" an equally qualified woman, then that is the best choice.

    That being said, I believe that the appointment of Caroline Kennedy sends the worst message. That message being, you can be given a US Senate seat because you were lucky enough to be born into American aristocracy.

    Yes, the Kennedy's like the Bush's and every single presidential family are the upper echelons of political aristocracy. We have political aristocracy at all levels of government including here in Portland, OR.

    Anyone but Caroline at this point in my opinion.

  • Tom Vail (unverified)
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    "... should gender be a factor in replacing Hillary Clinton?"

    It "IS" a factor, just like education, legislative experience, communication skill, etc.

    Did you mean to ask, "Should gender be one of the most significant factors in replacing Hillary Clinton?"

    In my opinion, the answer to that question in accordance with equal rights legislation, is and emphatic "NO."

    The choice should be made by properly defining the position and then determining what indicators will help choose the person who will best perform the tasks required (regardless of race, creed, gender, etc.). I have a hard time understanding how gender would find its way into the top 20 criteria to choose a Senator.

  • mp97303 (unverified)
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    If Joe has 20 years of state leg experience and Jane has no comparable track record, then Joe, IMO, would be the most qualified to fill the position. If Jane got the job on the basis of gender replacement alone, the people of NY would be getting short changed.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    the most qualified candidate regardless of gender, national origin, sexual orientation, color, religious affiliation or party should be selected.

    Oh, and that would leave Caroline Kennedy (who I assume is a very wonderful person but totally unqualified) off the list.

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    Let's go on a limb and assume we are all equally qualified on paper and the only thing to debate is gender.

    In that case, would you find Ann Coulter an acceptable replacement?

    I was going to bring up the issue of the transgendered. But then it occurred to me to use the example of Coulter and... well...

  • joel dan walls (unverified)
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    Definitely Ann Coulter, but only if (unlike the rumor that turned out to be false) her jaw truly is wired shut. In perpetuity.

  • joel dan walls (unverified)
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    Personally, I am gravely concerned about under-representation in the US Senate of left-handed mobility impaired Jewish African American anarcho-lesbians. If Caroline Kennedy can fill those shoes, then she should be the one.

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    A couple of weeks ago Cyreena wrote here about Emerge Oregon, part of a national effort to train Democratic women to run for office. Since the under-representation of women is an endemic, national issue, we won't ultimately see a Congress that "looks more like America" unless it's addressed on a broader scale.

    That being said, to respond to Karol's "all other things being equal" qualification (and without trying to parse that), I say hell yeah I'd make gender a "plus factor" in the appointment - and least in theory. (Note: the use of race as a "plus factor" in University admissions was upheld in the Supreme Court's 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger.)

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    P.S. - That's a really obnoxious response, Joel.

  • joel dan walls (unverified)
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    The under-representation of the obnoxious is also a matter of grave concern.

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    In that case, would you find Ann Coulter an acceptable replacement?

    I was going to bring up the issue of the transgendered. But then it occurred to me to use the example of Coulter and... well...

    Other than the completely insulting and obnoxious use of transgender as a constant "insult" against Coulter, what does one have to do with the other?

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    hmmm... just to be argumentative again, I am not sure why people feel Caroline Kennedy is lacking qualifications.

    If New York wants a celebrity who will immediately attract lots of attention to their state, then why not? Any indication that she is not smart, cannot manage a staff, will not make good decisions?

    What is a Senator anyway, other than a celebrity? The era of deliberation and policy engagement is long past for many in the Senate. There are 'workhorses' and 'show horses.'

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    Karol, Until we fill that pike of women leaders that is currently lacking, any discussion of whether gender should be a consideration will always be seen as an "extra" qualification, or the assumption made that gender is what qualifies a woman for office, because the assumption, conscious and subconscious, is that women are not qualified. Until the pike is filled, and women are as commonly seen at all levels of leadership, it will occur to a great many people that a woman is being given some sort of "hand up" because it is so far outside the norm to consider women equally qualified for leadership. Doesn't make it true, it simply is.

  • Chuck Butcher (unverified)
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    Does somebody here really think there is a shortage of qualified people? Men or women or varied others? Judas priest, carpenters are under-represented.

    The thing that is going to really drive this is whether the appointee can get elected in 2010. I like Jeff Merkley quite a bit, but was he the very best Democrat in Oregon? He wanted the job enough to run for it and had a good shot at it, he wasn't measured against the entire population, he was measured against Gordo.

    You know, there's a qualification that seems to be ignored in this issue, you've got to want it enough to stand the gaff. You've got to have sufficient ego to believe that you're well qualified to represent a bunch of people and likable enough to get elected to do it. I don't know that it has spit to do with gender, race, or whatever; but I'm damned sure it narrows the field a lot.

    I don't know if it is unfortunate that our government doesn't look like America, I'd sure be pretty happy if America got represented...for a change.

  • LT (unverified)
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    There are many factors to balance in this equation.

    Should the new Senator be from NYC or upstate NY? Should it be a native of New York State? Should Hillary be replaced by a female? Should Gov. Patterson pick the person he feels most qualified? Should some political professionals decide who "can win" in 2 years given the few people who gave odds 2 years ago that Obama would become the 44th President?

    Do I think replacing a female senator with a female senator is the top priority on that list? No--I've seen too many "vote for her because she is a woman" campaigns over the decades, often when there was a better qualified male candidate.

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    joel dan walls wrote: 'Personally, I am gravely concerned about under-representation in the US Senate of left-handed mobility impaired Jewish African American anarcho-lesbians'

    I'm more concerned about the over-representation of straight white men in the US Senate, even if "some of their best friends" are left-handed mobility impaired Jewish African American anarcho-lesbians.

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    I have no factual basis for this opinion, but I think we'd have a better country if women occupied at least half of the seats in the Senate and the House. I freely admit my bias: when deciding among two equally qualified people of opposite gender with similar positions, I'll go for the woman most of the time.

    We're at 16% female representation in Congress--we rank at #69 in the world for female representation. Western democracies that I admire (Sweden, The Netherlands, Spain, Norway) all have much higher representations of women in power. Heck, Rawanda has a majority of women in its Parliament. And Australia, not necessarily known for enlightened attitudes toward women, clocks in at 27%, according to this. Afghanistan's constitution guarantees women 25% of the seats in the Jirga.

    So, yeah, I'd like to see another woman get that seat. Provided she's qualified. And I've met enough politicians to understand that "qualified" is a pretty elastic term. I don't like seeing my country rank at the bottom.

    I wasn't all that happy that while we elevated several women to the Oregon Senate this year, we didn't keep up the ratio in the House. All the (Dem) guys we elected are great guys, I just wish we would have elected more women.

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    Jenny:

    Well, at least we got to have the first Democratic female speaker of the house since Vera Katz... at least for a few days ;) (Diane Rosenbaum became the speaker when Merkley had to officially give up his seat a few days ago).

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    No senate seat must be for anyone other than a person meeting the qualifications. To think in the terms you speak of means that New Yorkers must be limited to always choosing a woman for this seat. That kind of thinking trashes the idea of individuality and reveals "group" rights nonsense. Can't you even attempt to get beyond this kind of thinking?

    Bob Tiernan

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    Judas priest, carpenters are under-represented.

    Carpenters? What about plumbers named Joe?

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    You are assuming a "descriptive" model of representation--that a legislature should "look like" (demographically reflect) the makeup of the population.

    What do you expect with an electorate that has no fact base in their heads and only know, "duh, that looks like someone I can identify with".

    Posted by: darrelplant | Jan 10, 2009 2:18:28 PM

    Judas priest, carpenters are under-represented.
    

    Carpenters? What about plumbers named Joe?

    Actually, carpet haulers would be more to the point! You know everytime she opens her mouth, I just think "Manhattan".

    "You can't blame 'em. Runnin' Arkansas is like runnin' a 7-11!" - H. Ross Parrotbrain

    No, there's not much spin here. 28 posts honestly discussing how to replace a carpet bagger with someone that resembles her? By definition, isn't that the one thing a carpet bagger isn't?!? She doesn't seem to care a great deal about the criterion... Until now. Or is that something else the Dems get a bye on because only Reps do it?

  • RD (unverified)
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    I'm more concerned with being represented by the person who is most able to contribute to the rebuilding of our damaged country than I am with which bathroom they use.

    If that person is a woman, great. A man? That's fine. Transgendered? Fantastic, who cares? All that I care about is finding the best person for the job.

    Also, part of the reason we have a bicameral legislature with the lower house divided into geographic districts is because the House of Representatives is intended to represent the people literally, and the Senate is intended to represent "the people" in a more general or figurative sense. Or so say some historians...I'm not one.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    RD:

    and the Senate is intended to represent "the people" in a more general or figurative sense. Or so say some historians...I'm not one.

    Bob T:

    With direct election by the voters state-wide, sure. Some think each senator was supposed to represent a state's population as a whole but with a flawed selection process based on not trusting the people. That's inaccurate.

    Contrary to popular opinion the Senate was not intended to represent all of a state's people, but each state as a political entity and thus to be part of a counter-balance to centralized power, giving (as intended) the states their own representation in the national legislature.

    The state government is therefore the logical body for electing them because the legislatures and governors would naturally have that countering factor in mind whereas what Isabel Paterson called the "disconnected masses" did not and do not. It was never a "flaw" that we did not have direct elections of senators anymore than we have a flaw in how we get out Secretaries of State. The people had their say (including rejecting what the Senate would want) in the House of Representatives.

    When you think about it, even the Federal Court system was seriously changed by this in that the Senators who approve judges no longer have that built-in concern over state vs. national power. Decisions like Kelo were more inevitable because in too many things the people don't care until it's too late. The states were not meant to be mere administrative districts of the national government.

    Bob Tiernan

    Direct elections

  • Jim Ritter (unverified)
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    Contrary to popular opinion the Senate was not intended to represent all of a state's people, but each state as a political entity

    Which entity ceases to exist in matters of interstate commerce, public lands, the practice of medicine and death with dignity. You can't have it both ways. Either bring back real states, or scrap the Senate.

    BTW, name the last woman in the Senate that you thought was a good senator. U gotta hand it to Barry. He's kept the name Carol Mosely Braun off the radar screen for two years. Hell, woman? Name the last Democratic machine party politician from Illinois that wasn't as crooked as a dog's hind leg. Anyone with a lick of sense stopped passing through that bastion of fascism when the Illinois Supreme Court pioneered massive interstate dragnets to pick up a few statutory offenders. Keep quoting the civics books, though; it distracts from what the Democratic Party is accomplishing! If you believed all that stuff, you would boycott this blog. Read again: most fascist state in America = in the Democratic Party pocket for a century.

    What a party. Daly can beat you crapless in the streets and it's about Daly or the war. It's about Illinois Democrats, stupid.

    Representative Democracy means that corporations select legislators that represent their targeted mark. Women are a big mark. A woman will replace her. You can't lose demographics to the competition.

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    Name the last Democratic machine party politician from Illinois that wasn't as crooked as a dog's hind leg.

    Name the last Republican politician who didn't dump his first wife for a fling with a younger woman, have sex in a diaper with prostitutes, solicit sex in an airport bathroom or by instant message with underaged boys, authorize torture, skip active military duty during wartime, or rip off the state by claiming he was investing money in coins.

    I mean really.

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    Bob Tiernan wrote: "No senate seat must be for anyone other than a person meeting the qualifications."

    But what are the "qualifications", Bob? You seem to be missing the entire point here, and believe immutable factors such as gender, race, and sexual orientation are irrelevant to how a democracy should be represented.

    If power, wages, and legal rights weren't as unfairly distributed based on these factors as they are, or we had several more decades of legal and economic equalization under our collective belts than we do, maybe I could agree with you, but that's not where America's at right now.

    In a nation and economy where people might well live in three to five different States before they die, why are these arbitrary historic geographic divisions the sole basis by which our political representation is determined? It's quite screwy, if you stop and look at it: Rhode Island - with less residents than the City of Portland - has as much voting power in the United States Senate as the 34 million residents of the State of California. And why are women, blacks, latinos, asians, native americans, and GLBT people grossly under-represented in our "representative" democracy, relative to their actual populations?

  • Incontinentia Buttocks (unverified)
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    Posted by: mp97303 | Jan 9, 2009 3:48:23 PM

    Should a woman replace Hillary Clinton? Only if they are the most qualified candidate.

    We need to remember that people that didn't bother to think about that little detail celebrated, just two years ago, a woman as Speaker of the House. Since then she's been the worst in US history. Tom Delay is one tough act to follow, but Nancy has managed. She also gets high marks for cynicism. She is using straight Delay methods, after running a campaign saying she never would, but has no result to show for it. That's inviting comparison and failing simultaneously. I'll bet good money that for the next 25 years she's invited to speak at women's functions and will be lauded for her historic achievement. Bring back the 1970s when feminists were someone you wanted your little girl to immitate, not anyone without a penie that lands a perk.

  • fixit (unverified)
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  • joel dan walls (unverified)
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    Perhaps it is worth pointing out that Congressional redistricting has produced the situation of "majority minority" districts. The rationale for this seems to be that smearing minority populations over too many districts makes it very hard for minorities to win elections. Our recent presidential election ought to give pause to anyone who has ever made the argument for majority-minority districts. Admittedly these considerations do not readily transfer to the issue of male/demale disparity.

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    Our recent presidential election ought to give pause to anyone who has ever made the argument for majority-minority districts.

    To the contrary: Obama's election was more the exception that proves the rule. This has been the subject of some very good discussion and analysis recently. I'd point especially to the back and forth between Nate Silver (of FiveThirtyEight.com fame) and Ta-Nehisi Coates on why there are no black Senators (at least before the Burris fiasco).

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Bob T:

    Contrary to popular opinion the Senate was not intended to represent all of a state's people, but each state as a political entity

    Jim Ritter:

    Which entity ceases to exist in matters of interstate commerce, public lands, the practice of medicine and death with dignity. You can't have it both ways. Either bring back real states, or scrap the Senate.

    Bob T:

    That makes no sense. There were laws national in scope (rightly so) as early as 1789. States had no problem with being political entities as a counter-balance to the central government.

    Interesting that the large warfare state we've had (more or less) since 1917 was possible only after direct elections for all states became universal. You can't have it both ways, Jim.

    Bob Tiernan (of Multnomah County)

  • j_luthergoober (unverified)
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    Who knows were the manly-girl really lives??? It appears that Ann believes she is entitled to reside and vote simultaneously in any state!

    http://www.nydailynews.com/gossip/2009/01/11/2009-01-11_ann_coulter_addresses_voting_issue.html

  • Grant Schott (unverified)
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    New Yorkers should want someone who truly wants to represent them. Hillary apparently did not. Caroline Kennedy has never displayed much interest in politics until recently. I think New York Democrats can come up with a better woman, or man.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Grant Schott:

    Caroline Kennedy has never displayed much interest in politics until recently. I think New York Democrats can come up with a better woman, or man.

    Bob T:

    Hmmm, maybe she'd be okay just the same. Apparently she's enough of a realist to know that it really made no difference which major party candidate got elected each time. Also, Gen. George Marshall never voted, yet he made a fine Sec of State. What would an interest in voting have given him?

    Bob T of Mult Co.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Leo Schuman:

    But what are the "qualifications", Bob?

    Bob T:

    Being 35 years of age, and a citizen I guess. As voters we can then consider intelligence if we choose, and a few other things we usually do when comparing candidates.

    Leo Schuman:

    You seem to be missing the entire point here, and believe immutable factors such as gender, race, and sexual orientation are irrelevant to how a democracy should be represented.

    Bob T:

    And that's nonsense. People like you think that, despite own views more or less, I'm better represented by someone like Teddy Kennedy than a Thomas Sowell because Teddy's a white guy. That's a pretty ignorant way of looking at how representation should work. I look at views and policy stances, not color and gender and other group stuff you guys are still, sadly, addicted to.

    Bob Tiernan

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