Hillary, Huck, and Howley

So far, 2008 is the year of Kerry Howley. The New York Times arrived on our stoop this morning containing some op-ed page Howley goodness on why, whatever else you might think about Hillary, being the wife of an ex-President isn’t such a bad thing:

Like it or not, the road to female advancement often begins at the altar. History books are thick with examples of women who broke political barriers because their family connections afforded them the opportunity.

If you’ve ever wondered why India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan and the Philippines seem readier to elect women than does the United States, here’s your answer: Societies that value a candidate’s family affiliation, and therefore have a history of nepotistic succession, are often open to female leadership so long as it bears the right brand. Benazir Bhutto, Indira Gandhi and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, among many others, slashed through gender barriers on the strength of their family names.

In the United States, where a poll last year found that 14 percent of people still admit they would not vote for a woman, nepotistic advancement for women in politics was most common early in the 20th century. As Jo Freeman, the feminist political scientist, has pointed out, six of the first 14 women elected to Congress were widows of incumbents. Three more were the daughters of politicians.

Oh, and what Republican won Iowa? Mike Huckabee did. You say you’d like to know more about this interesting character? Well, Kerry grants your wish in the cover article of this month’s Campaigns and Elections, now called Politics.

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center