By Taylor Schaffer
Published: Wednesday, February 23, 2011
This summer, I read a story about a little girl turning to her daddy and saying women can’t be president. He responds, “Oh honey, of course they can.” She marches into the kitchen, grabs her placemat that features all 44 presidents and holds it up. “See,” she explains, “there isn’t one.”
Although the girl knew women had been politicians in the past, the lack of a woman on that placemat of presidents convinced her that women didn’t have the right to lead our country. That appalling notion must have lit a fire under her, because those flames are still marking her path.
I believe Meghan McCain is establishing a new precedent for youth in politics, women in politics and the power of both. When I picked up her book “Dirty Sexy Politics” last fall it was because I was interested in a young woman who was so willing to be vocal about the political process.
I don’t necessarily stand by her on all of her ideological beliefs, nor do I often support her political party. Yet as I read what she had to say, I was very aware of the common ground we have in the political system. I found her unique approach to politics compelling and accessible.
As I read the book, it was the little details that made me interested in McCain as a person. She is an outspoken propionate of social issues including gay rights, despite being a Republican. She has also weathered storms of scathing media criticism.
Everything from her weight to her legitimacy as a pundit to her “sexiness” has received as much of the spotlight as any of her opinion pieces with the Daily Beast. Google Meghan McCain and suggested search categories include: Meghan McCain fat and Meghan McCain breasts.
McCain can count me as a fan for the way she handles these criticisms and episodes of name-calling. Women, whether in politics, media or social groups, are subjected to a different level of scrutiny than men ever are. Men are not called sluts. Look up male politicians and related search categories don’t turn them into pin-ups or a Jenny Craig commercial. Through it all, McCain has maintained her presence and her voice.
As far as I’m concerned, we need more role models like Meghan McCain, not just for women but for our whole generation. She has given a voice to a youth movement within the Republican Party that so often gets stifled between hard line conservative blather. Further, she exhibits style and grace each time she makes her voice heard.
When I picked up the book last year, I was also aware that McCain would be coming to Indiana State in the spring. I believe she is by far the most relevant voice of the speakers showcased in the 2010-2011 ISU Speakers Series. This isn’t a slam on the other speakers this year. Each guest has had a valuable story to share with students that can enhance their experience at ISU.
What I see with McCain is a youth perspective on the political system. She is a peer with an insight focused on the politics for the country’s fresh batch of college students and graduates. She is relatable, real and unafraid. Indiana State is lucky to have her speak at our university and I truly hope Tilson is filled to the brim to hear what she has to say this evening.