Gender has played a rather significant role in the politics of the United States, specifically in the general presidential campaigns and elections. This may be opinion differences between various people regarding general issues and electoral candidates.
Before the year 1920, all women did not have the right to vote. Constitutionally, only white males of certain religions, who paid their poll taxes or owned some property, were awarded this right. For years, generations had struggled countless times and with humiliations to advocate for women being regarded the same as men. Women suffragists like Elizabeth Stanton and Lucretia Mott demanded the right to vote among other rights, which shocked a lot of people. Some even had to endure starvation, assaults and even going to jail but eventually, all their efforts bore fruit; in August 1920, the (Women Suffrage) 19th amendment was implemented thus sexism was not a barrier to vote anymore in all the states. As a result, females found new grounds in different national political parties, government agencies, campaigns and even ran for office.
As an issue, gender became a noticeable feature in political campaigns, specifically the gender gap. In 1980, the 8 percent gap was noted as significantly larger than any other previous ones. Ronald Reagan won the elections with women making up 46 percent of the voters despite the previously noted votes during the campaigns. It was said that this gap was affiliated with the general economic status of all women. He was criticized and the particular elections opposed but he responded by promising that he would appoint a woman to the Supreme Court, which he kept later on (Bennetts 1980). The gap made the initial years of his administration difficult and kept lots of women in fear; that he might lead the state into war.
Although the 19th amendment did not pick up immediately, it did overtime and another way it affected presidential elections was by increasing female voter turnout. In most states, the women who took part in voting were a lot more than men. If at all they had opinions or perspectives on certain candidates or issues, they would vote and they made a relevant impact on electoral outcomes; they were less predictable than before. For instance, in 2000, when George Bush won against Al Gore, approximately 8 million more women voted; their votes being greatly related to their health, well being as well as their economic status (Page 2000). Moreover, in the 2012, over sixty million voted in favor of Barack Obama, who eventually won the elections. The women’s votes were also very crucial in deciding those who would work in congress with the president; where Republicans were the majority.
Women suffrage was a lot more than just giving every woman the right to vote; a lot of women’s plights and issues were also brought to light and attempts made to address them accordingly. In the 2004 general elections, both parties involved organized and set up particular committees to mobilize all the women and also influence their votes. On one hand, George Bush, who was looking to be re-elected, included his wife in his campaigns. The First Lady strategically made Bush’s feminist campaign advertisements on various women centered websites which appealed to most of them greatly. John Kerry, on the other hand, also had a similar campaign that targeted all women voters. His initiatives mainly aimed at supporting women and they included: closing the pay gap, fighting gender based violence and increased health funds for women. However, a lot of women questioned why these initiatives came a lot later in his campaign and therefore most of them ended up voting for George Bush who thereafter generally won the elections.
Additionally, the amendment also extended opportunities to women to take part in governance. They were elected mayors or in the senate. One party even nominated Hillary Clinton to run for presidency in 2016, contesting against Donald Trump. She managed to go past the primaries, which is usually considered the hardest part. However, gender disparity was clearly visible in the entire process. Trump particularly, engaged in endless feuds with female journalists and mocked his only female primary opponent’s looks. He also questioned whether Hillary was strong enough to run the entire country and during one debate, referred to her as being nasty. Hillary’s intentions were also questioned based on her previous comments about women. Overall, this particular year produced the largest gap ever among voters in the United States (Hughes et al., 2017). Despite the outcome of the elections, Hillary still gained more popularity and became highly acknowledged and appreciated.
All in all, this amendment which was finally implemented after a long struggle played an important role in advancing of democracy. Initial barriers to voting were eliminated, equality was enhanced and later affirmed in other amendments in the constitution leading to more growth.