I was a good student in fifth grade. I sat in my East Millcreek classroom, paying attention to the teacher.
One day she told us any boy in our class could become president of the United States. She meant to impress us, to leave us awestruck at the possibility of America, the amazing power of democracy. Instead, I remember thinking how sad it was that girls couldn’t be president and how lucky boys were.
It wasn’t my first encounter with the lie but it was a memorable one. I would hear it a lot as I grew up. The lie: Girls can’t; women can’t.
That classroom was 100 percent white and 95 percent Latter-day Saints. All the boys in our razor-thin demographic were eligible for the presidency in my teacher's eyes.
Two ironies emerge: 1. Today, both Democrats aimed at the White House would have fallen outside my teacher’s presidential vision. 2. Mitt Romney, a perfect match to my boy classmates' race, sex and religion was deemed unelectable by a considerable portion of U.S. voters, according to polls.
After leaving elementary school, I heard the lie in reference to Title IX which gave girls access to school sports, and again during the local bloodbath surrounding the Equal Rights Amendment. It’s more subtle now, but the lie reverberates still.
I read it in the papers sometimes, hear it uttered in unguarded moments. Some churches still cling to it. From first grade through feminist awakening, I heard the lie from teachers and authority figures.
I’ve spent some time trying to expose the lie, kill the lie. I’m a natural to vote for Hillary Clinton. A woman president. The opportunity to show everyone that women can. A last ceiling to be broken. Her vast experience, indisputable credentials, a sense that it’s her turn; they’re all very compelling. But Hillary has chipped away at her credibility with me. The first sin: As her husband approached the White House, Hillary Rodham became Hillary Rodham Clinton and eventually Hillary Clinton. Earlier, after seven years of marriage and well into her law career, when her husband ran for governor, she morphed into Mrs. Bill Clinton, solely to pander to folks in Arkansas who cared about that kind of thing.
It’s totally fine with me if a woman takes her husband’s name, but all the changing Hillary did seems dishonest, opportunistic and, I'm afraid, a reflection of how she handles more important challenges.
Hillary sucks up to people who disagree with her instead of just impressing those who would be thrilled with her real self. Her grandstand vote against flag burning and much more important, in support of the war in Iraq, infuriated me.
She says if she knew then what she knows now she would have voted against the war. But before the war began, I knew it was a bad idea, that Iraqi weapons of mass destruction were either nonexistent or not important enough to start a war over, and that Sept. 11 had zilch to do with Iraq.
I’m no genius, but I knew. Hillary, with all her smarts and the tools at her disposal as a U.S. senator, ostensibly didn't know.
Barack Obama on the other hand, knew. He voted against the war. He’s genuine, courageous, bright and positive. He exudes realness. Maybe it’s just that he hasn’t disappointed me yet, but I've watched him closely, I've read a lot of things about him, and I’ve read both of his books.
I was proud to vote for him on Super Tuesday. I care just as much about the arrival of the first African American in the White House as I do the first woman, and I think he'll be a better president than Hillary. I hope I get to vote for him again in November.
* BARB GUY is a regular contributor to these pages.