When I was in elementary school, I distinctly remember being told that, one day, one of us may be the first female president of the United States. While I appreciate the “be all you can be” message shared with grade schoolers, there is something funny about that phrase.

After all, you have to be 35 years old to run for president. And at 35, a candidate would be a young and relatively inexperienced presidential candidate, since you have to be 30 years old to run for Senate. So, with that fancy subtraction stuff I learned around the same time that I learned I could be the first female president, the results show that my teachers (as indebted to them as I am) were inherently saying that the first female president would be elected, at the earliest, in 2024.

I don’t know what the world will be like in 2024. I can envision a Jetson-like future with iPod features that will blow your mind or a future that is exactly like it is now, only with a different climate. It’s hard to tell what the future will hold.

However, I do have a general idea of what the world is like now. I know that women typically win congressional races at the same rate men do. I know (personally) several fine women and men who are going to make equally phenomenal and successful doctors, lawyers and business professionals. I also know that despite all the progress made in terms of gender and racial equality, several large barriers remain in place.

A question I know but have no answer to is, why is it easier for so many people to see the first female president in the unknown future of 2024 as opposed to the familiar present of 2008?

This is not a piece saying that any particular candidate is better than others in this particular presidential election. This is a piece questioning why we are letting the media boil it down to a contest between gender and race. I also personally believe that voting for someone just because of his or her gender or race is the same as not voting for someone because of it. Both of these paths are ones of discrimination.

If you feel that you would support a woman president but you do not want to support this particular woman candidate, I believe that is a totally valid point. But the people who just feel that a woman, any woman, is not qualified to be president on the basis of her gender, worry me.

It is true that, stereotypically, there are different leadership styles between men and women. Yet, different is not necessarily wrong and a change could be good.

There is also a fear factor – people worry that having a female leader will be dangerous for the country.

Perhaps. But dangerous things have happened to this country with a male leader. And I would argue that no more dangerous things happen in countries where a female is the head of state. It seems that Great Britain, New Zealand and Germany have been doing OK.

So, while you should support whom you support, you should make that decision based on policy, issues and voting record as opposed to gender or race. We also should not let the political discourse in this country be degraded to one of “battle of the sexes,” stereotype squabble or comments about a candidate’s looks or choice of dress, because, as a nation, petty talk and insults hurt us more than they could ever hurt the candidates.

So whether it’s 2008, 2012, 2016 or a year so far away that the site of its Olympics hasn’t been claimed, I think it would be pretty awesome if one of my elementary school classmates did become a female president in 2024. It would just be way more awesome if she were not the first.

Frank is a member of the class of 2009.

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