Monday, October 14, 2013
Geraldine Ferraro; First Female VP Candidate
Garaldine Ferraro was the first woman to be nominated as a vice presidential candidate. She ran with Walter F. Mondale in 1984 against Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr.
The article I’m posting about her is a New York Times Obituary written by Douglas Martin in 2011, the year that she died.
Before being nominated she was first a public school teacher in Queens, enrolled in the night program at Fordham Law School where she was one of two women in the class. For thirteen years she practiced law in Queens doing some work for her husband's business and for the Family Court. She was elected president of the Queens County Women's Bar Association. Three years she later was elected Queens district attorney. She then got a job as an assistant district attorney and led a special victims unit specializing in rape, crimes against the elderly, and domestic abuse. She was elected to congress in 1978 and moved up from there to become secretary of the Democratic caucus, and finally chairwoman of the 1984 Democratic Platform Committee.
As the article points out, it was sixty-four years after women gained suffrage. It wasn’t until another twenty-four years later that the next woman, Sarah Palin, would be nominated for vice president. I think of the impact Sarah Palin had on not only young girls but also society as a whole (albeit mostly negative in my opinion) when she was nominated today and wonder if I had been alive at the time, would the effect have been the same, possibly even greater? How is it that I had never read about Geraldine Ferraro in school? Will we still talk about Sarah Palin twenty years from now or will she be largely forgotten like Ms. Ferraro?
Another interesting detail that this article only touches on is the influence that the National Organization for Women had on her nomination. Martin writes that NOW “threatened a convention floor fight” if the Democratic Party did not nominate a woman. This, to me, echoes the importance of channels outside of the political sphere that women have always used and relied on to gain political leverage. It’s fascinating to me that even in 1984, almost 65 years after the ERA was first proposed and when women were struggling with the decision to enter the political sphere or continue to work outside of it, we were still having to pressure political parties from the outside to even allow us into the political sphere.
Ms. Ferraro also wrote a book called “Framing a Life: A Family Memoir” if anyone is interested in reading more about her.
The article can be found here: