So last night Barack Obama won another couple of primaries in his bid for the Democratic Presidential nomination. So far he’s won all ten contests since the Super Tuesday votes, and seems to have a lot of what everyone’s calling momentum, moving further and further into Hillary Clinton’s core constituents – lower income families, union members, female voters. Momentum indeed.
During Clinton’s speech on TV last night (which actually CNN cut away from in order to cover Obama’s speech, which they showed without ad breaks – sweet deal for him) she mentioned that if she becomes president it would break the hardest glass ceiling of them all. When they cut back to the analyst room one commentator, who happened to be an African American woman, seemed very upset and said that while Clinton is indeed a woman and there is a glass ceiling there, she went into this as the millionaire wife of a well-loved former president and really representing the party’s establishment. Obama, who while being a lawyer and therefore not being exactly poor, didn’t have the same advantages, and by the way is being African American not also a glass ceiling challenge?
Now as you (probably) know I am neither a woman nor African American, but every company I’ve worked for in America has had one or both in very senior leadership positions, and I have had several female bosses in the past. My last company had an African American man and a woman as the 2nd equal most senior company officers. So I have been in organizations where there was admirably very little in the way of glass ceilings. Growing up in Britain there was a woman Prime Minister – she was a strong, self-made woman. But I can’t say that I know first hand what the challenges must be of being in either of those groups in everyday life or in politics, and how people would likely pre-judge your abilities based on race or gender. I do admit that one of the reasons I like the idea of Obama being president is what a message it would sent to the country and the world for America to have a black president, but at the same time I wouldn’t be supportive if I didn’t think that he is highly capable entirely on his own merits and separate from his racial background.
I would also suggest that the biggest glass ceiling is not around race or gender. I have seen many surveys where Americans have said that all thing being equal they would vote for a woman president, an African- or Asian-American president, a Mormon president, Catholic or even Muslim president. Even a homosexual president. The lowest of the low out of all the choices in the surveys, the personality trait which would be the biggest impediment to being elected president? If a candidate was atheist.