Tim Kaine Is Refreshingly Ready to Serve Under a Woman

While Hillary Clintonís candidacy has prompted the media to spend a lot of time discussing the possibility of the United States electing its first woman president, most Americans probably arenít going to know how it feels to have a woman president until it becomes a reality.

For some, that feeling will be one of triumph after finally seeing a woman reach the nationís highest office. For others, that feeling will be one of contempt as sexist assumptions Ė unconscious or deliberate Ė make it difficult to respect a woman as commander in chief.

Itís not just the voters who†will have to grapple with these feelings. A lot of the people serving underneath Clinton in her hypothetical (yet probable) administration may not be used to taking orders from or deferring opinions to a woman.

Entering this new territory makes a recent CNN interview with Tim Kaine all the more significant. Vox highlighted a portion of the exchange, and itís worth taking in what Kaine had to say about, for the first time in his political career, being subservient to a woman.

ďWhen Hillary asked me to be her running mate, what flashed through my mind was Iíve been in politics for 22 years. This is my ninth race. In all the previous eight races, Iíve been the guy with my name on the ballot, my name on the bumper sticker and the yard sign. And Iíve had all these strong women supporting me: campaign managers, Cabinet secretaries, agency heads. The voters that we get are more women than men.

ďI remember thinking, wow, Iím going to have the chance now to not be the top of the ticket. Iím going to be a strong man supporting the first strong woman to be president of the United States. And as important as it is to normalize that a woman can be president, itís also important to normalize that strong men can support a woman as president.Ē

That last sentence is especially impactful. Having a woman as president is an important step, but it wonít wind up meaning nearly as much if the men in power donít accept it as a reasonable choice.

At this point, itís probably inevitable that Clinton will be disrespected by certain foreign dignitaries because of her gender and called a ďbitchĒ by pundits for actions that they wouldnít think twice about coming from a male president. Still, Clinton can probably overcome some of this discrimination by surrounding herself with the correct, forward-thinking people.

Itís extremely encouraging to see that Kaine is already thinking about what it means to be the right-hand man to a woman president. Heís conscious of the message he will be sending to the nation and hopes to model appropriate behavior to other men who are unaccustomed to this power dynamic.

Politicians can often have trouble dealing with their own egos (see: the Republican presidential nominee,) so the fact that Kaine says he is prepared to take a prominent secondary role Ė let alone to a woman – after a lifetime of receiving the top billing is crucial. (Canít you already envision the rightwing cartoons labeling Kaine as ďpussy-whipped?Ē) Being a dutiful extension of Clinton is going to take thick skin and resolve.

When Kaine was initially selected as vice president, a lot of people wanted to see a more progressive choice than a fairly moderate southern white man, like another woman (Elizabeth Warren) or a Latino (Julian Castro or Tom Perez.)

However, when you consider the points Kaine raised in the CNN interview, maybe Kaine is a pretty progressive choice after all. Assigning the role of second fiddle to a white man is the kind of thing thatís going to make America a little uncomfortable and Ė hopefully Ė change the way we think about gender and hierarchy.

So far, Kaine has played the right-hand man role well. His role in the campaign has been fairly minimal, perhaps by design. Heís neither grandstanding in a way that steals Clintonís spotlight nor making a series of gaffs that would distract from her platform. At the VP debate, Kaine framed most of his answers by explaining Clintonís positions rather than offering his personal opinions.

Obviously, itís easier for a man to say he can work well under a woman than to actually do it. Itíll be up to Kaine to live up to this progressive perspective while serving as vice president. Still, his early awareness of this issue is promising, so hopefully he can be that shining example of a strong man unashamed to assist an even stronger woman.

Photo credit: Official Congressional photo of Kaine


Jim Ven
Jim Vabout a year ago

thanks for sharing.

Philippa P
Philippa Pabout a year ago


Hometuition P.
Hometuition Pabout a year ago

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Marie W.
Marie Wabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

Janis K.
Janis Kabout a year ago

Thanks for sharing.

jan b.
jan babout a year ago

If women in particular and this country is lucky to have the FIRST WOMAN president we will have MORE to celebrate in 2018. if there is a Madam President we will celebrate not only the march but the RIGHT FOR WOMEN TO VOTE. Women owe a great deal to these following women and to all of those in the 1900's including Hillary who supported rights for children and women.
On March 3, 1913, 5,000 suffragists from across the country gathered in Washington, DC, to demand the right to vote. The elaborate parade, which marched from the U.S. Capitol to the Treasury Building, included nurses, college students, academics, and clergywomen united in the struggle for women’s suffrage.

Throughout the three-hour parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, marchers faced strong opposition from anti-suffragists among the crowds. Insults and lit cigarette butts were hurled at them, and marchers were tripped, groped and beaten. The violence was so intense that army troops were called in to restore order, and 100 marchers were hospitalized.

Tania N.
Tania Nabout a year ago

Thanks for shaing

Brett Cloud
Brett Cloudabout a year ago


Joanne p.
Joanne pabout a year ago


Philip S.
Philip Sabout a year ago

He sure is, especially since he's had over a year to get used to the idea, since she picked him in the Summer of 2015 but led everyone to believe she hadn't selected a VP yet. More dishonesty.