The History of Women & Men in UUA Presidential Politics goes like this: 29 years ago, for the first time (as far as I know), a woman ran against a man for UUA President.
That scenario has repeated itself every election cycle.
And in every election cycle, the man has won.
And so- a provocative question emerges–
Will 2017 finally be the year of the woman president?
Here’s the history–
1985 William Shulz wins over former UUA moderator Sandra Caron with 66% of the vote (5th UUA president)
1993 John Buehrens wins over Carolyn Owen-Towle by 99 votes (smallest margin ever)
2017? In New Orleans, the 9th UUA president will be elected.
By then, there will have been 32 years of male UUA presidents. Is it time to forcibly end that streak?
What do I mean by “forcibly?” Read on!
The UUA presidential process is very different now than in 1985. For one thing, there is the UUA presidential search committee.
For another, that UUA board committee will be nominating at least 2 nominees.
One way to ensure that the UUA delegates elected the first ever woman UUA president would be to only put forth two women as candidates.
That would be a bit of a shocker, wouldn’t it? At least to some delegates, it would.
Theoretically, they could nominate more than 2, but unless there are exceptional circumstances, I don’t see that happening. (Although a recent comment by a former UUA president has me re-thinking that position. I’ll write about that in a future post).
It’s also true that someone could self-nominate to be UUA president. They’d have to get 25 congregations to sign a petition (from at least five different districts) And, they could file their petitions as early as March 1, 2016, less than two years from now.
Organizing efforts (including “mass mailings”) for campaigns for UUA President can begin as early as November 1, 2015. And active campaigning (including solicitation of endorsements) can begin January 1, 2016.
Historically though, people endorsed by nominating committees (at the UUA national level, in my own, unscientific view) get about twice the votes of those who run by petition. There are a few notable exceptions to this rule, but it seems to be the rule.
That means it is highly likely that one of the two nominees from the Presidential Search Committee will likely be elected our next UUA president at the General Assembly in New Orleans, LA in June 2017.
Every UUA presidential election since 1985 has included delegates who have told me they voted for the female candidate because it was time for a woman president.
And yet, a man has won each time. Why is that?
I think it is because a lot of the election gets decided at General Assembly itself. And I’m not sure resumes actually count for much.
My own, unscientific view, is that whoever appears to have the most charisma in the debates at GA– going into the home stretch before the election– that person will win.
Don’t get me wrong. Everyone who has ever run for UUA president has had plenty of charisma.
But for some reason, the men have won. Do they have more charisma than the women? I don’t think so. Are we inextricably bound by patriarchy, and don’t fully acknowledge it? I don’t know.
I do know the pressure will be on the UUAPSC to select two women and no men for precisely this reason: it will make history, and break a glass ceiling that’s long been in place.
Who do you suppose the women nominated might be?