This is not a political post. I want to get that straight right now.
This is not me supporting a political party or advocating for Hillary Clinton to be our next president. This is a father writing about what it means to be able to say to his daughters that they could be president someday and to have it actually mean something.
I have three children. Aspen is 2, and Norah is 6. My son, Tristan, is 9. And while Hillary Clinton has not been elected president, and she may never be, she has come closer to the White House than any other woman before her. Not that she hasn’t lived there before, she has. But she wasn’t the president. She was at the president’s side. She was his wife and the mother of their child. And while the position of first lady is a very important role that comes with important duties and obligations, she was still the president’s spouse — someone who doesn’t have veto power and nuclear weapon codes.
As a father, I want my daughters to realize that anything is possible, and when I say, “You could be the next president if you wanted,” I’d like to be able to show them that it has been done by a woman before. I want them to feel enabled and emboldened to progress and dream and achieve. I want them to grow up in a world where the sky is the limit and there isn’t some glass ceiling blocking women from achieving anything, even the office of president.
I want to believe that my daughters can do anything they set their mind to, but that can be difficult in a world of disproportionate pay for women and predominantly male leadership.
I want my daughters to go through life knowing that the world is an equal playing field and to feel confident that a woman can go to space, sit on the Supreme Court, or hold the highest political position in the United States of America.
And I want my son to see it, too. He’s 9, and I want him to grow up knowing that he has as much of an obligation to support his wife’s profession as she has an obligation to support his. I want him to grow up knowing that a woman can do as much as he can, and whether his future wife decides to be a stay-at-home mom or the next president, his job is to support her dreams and aspirations — because they have the same value as his. And in his future career, I want him to know that the women he works with deserve equal pay, opportunities, and respect.
Because the fact is, in 2016, we live in an egalitarian age where women are as educated and capable of leading as any man. And I’d like to have that fact be visible in our political landscape.
Basically what I’m saying is, I want to be able to look at Norah and Aspen and say, “See. She did it. So can you.” And to be honest, I’m a white male and I don’t know what it feels like to not be able to look at a line of previous presidents or governors or judges and not see a face that looks a lot like mine. I don’t know what it feels like to see something as unachievable. And until I had girls, I never really thought about it. But now, I look at things a little differently.
I look at my little girls and I see how smart and capable they are, and I know that they could accomplish anything they want to. But I don’t know how well they know that. I don’t know if they will look at the world and consciously, or unconsciously, see it as a place where, because of their gender, they can’t run for president, or even apply for their boss’s job. I don’t want that for them. I want them to feel like they have an equal ability to be in the driver’s seat, because they, in fact, do.
This is not to say that either of them have a political understanding right now. They are both young. However, regardless of how you feel about Hillary Clinton as a presidential candidate, one thing is for sure. She has accomplished something in America that no woman before her has ever accomplished, and I am honestly happy to see it. Because here are the facts: Hillary Clinton being one election away from the office of president gives me the ability to put my arm around my son and say, “Women are just as capable of leadership as you. Please respect that.” And for my daughters, it gives me the opportunity to point and say, “She did it. So can you.”