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The 2008 US presidential election is one of the most memorable historical moments. This event enters in the book of history for various reasons. First, it is the first election in the history of the United States, where a black American president was elected (Burden, 35). Secondly, it is the only election in the history of the United States that saw a woman appear in the presidential ballot paper after Sarah Palin was nominated for the vice-president position. Finally, Hillary Clinton garnered more votes than any other candidate in the history of primary nominations (Dunne, 355). However, there is more to this presidential election than just the history it made. Nevertheless, this discussion focuses on the main factors behind the defeat of Hillary Clinton and John McCain.
According to Finlay, the main factors behind the defeat of these presidential candidates are sexism and misogyny. These vices were portrayed by the media and politicians during the election season (Finlay, 42). Sexism and misogyny have played a greater role in shaping the destiny of the American woman. This explains why Hillary Clinton, a presidential candidate who has been named the most admired woman in the US for sixteen consecutive years, could not win the elections (Burden, 50). However, sexism and misogyny operated in a hidden manner that has been difficult to unearth.
The USA media has displayed gender bias in addressing political issues (Dunne, 360). Worse still, the coverage of election issues during campaigns is selectively done (Birnbaum, 345). It is observed that the ratio of media coverage in matters of politics, foreign policy, and the economy is 4:1 for men and women respectively (Finlay, 55). This is displayed both in print and on the airwaves, a clear indication that the male gender is given wide coverage by the media.
Further studies show that in the political action committees (super PACs), which are the main engines that run elections in the US, women’s contribution accounts for only 20% of the total contribution (Finlay, 49). These committees are established to generate funds for candidates, as well as plan on how the funds will be utilized to conduct the campaigns (Birnbaum, 351). Since super PACs have a greater influence on the officials to be elected, women are left without much influence on the choice of the leader to be elected (90).
A further study shows that female candidates in any elective post obtain 75% coverage on their physical appearance, with only 25% coverage on their ideologies and main campaign issues (112). On the other hand, the same study indicates that male candidates get 68% more coverage on their policies and platform ideologies than their female counterparts. The situation is worsened by the direct verbal attack on women by politicians, advertisers, and comedians (67).
This is a clear indication that the US media has a gender bias, an aspect that played a greater role in making Hillary Clinton and John McCain defeated in media coverage. This gave President Obama an upper hand, allowing him to win the 2008 presidential elections (Burden, 46).
Nevertheless, the 2012 presidential elections are likely to be different. This is because; women have become enlightened over the last four years. Therefore, they are now bold enough to fight for equality in media coverage, through exposing such vices (110). Thus, in the 2012 elections, women will elect leaders based on their ability to deliver, and not based on the candidate’s picture that will be painted by the media (130).
Birnbaum, Norman. “The Presidential Election of 2008.” The Political Quarterly 79.3 (2008): 344-353. Print.
Burden, Barry. The Nominations: In the elections of 2008. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2010. 34-55. Print.
Dunne, Michael. “Black and White Unite? The Clinton-Obama Campaigns in Historical Perspective.”The Political Quarterly 60.2 (2008): 354-365. Print.
Finlay, Anita. Dirty Words on Clean Skin: Sexism and Sabotage: a Hillary Supporter’s Rude Awakening. United States: Golden Middleway Books, 2012. 41-131. Print.