How Candy Crowley Became The Moderator For The Presidential Debate, And The Three Teenage Girls That Made It Happen

I very clearly remember learning about the necessary qualifications to become President of the United States. When my third grade teacher asked us to list the eligibility requirements, I was pretty confident that I knew them. I was surprised when my teacher corrected a fellow female classmate’s answer that you had to be a man. I didn’t know that I could possibly run for office one day.

I didn’t end up harboring any dreams of being the President of the United States as a result, but I was happy to learn it was a possibility. I didn’t grow up in a household that had a limited view of a gender roles. The complete opposite, in fact. Hell, my mom read me selections from the book Don’t Bet on the Prince: Contemporary Feminist Fairy Tales as a small child. It’s not like I thought women could be nurses, secretaries and moms. But it can be hard to know what you could be if you never see any examples of options.

When I see women like Hillary Clinton or even Sarah Palin on the presidential ticket, I know that young women and girls will have more ideas of what they could be. That’s exactly the reason that three teenage girls from New Jersey launched a petition calling for a woman to moderate one of this fall’s presidential debates. Emma Axelrod, Elena Tsemberis and Sammi Siegel can’t even vote yet, but they wanted to see a woman on that political stage. Their petition states, ‘Women and men will never be truly equal in our country until they’re one and the same in positions of power and both visible in politics. There is no reason why a woman shouldn’t have a chance to show what she’s capable of by moderating debates in the upcoming election.’

The Commision on Presidential Debates apparently agrees. For the first time in 20 years, a woman, Candy Crowley, will be moderating the second of three presidential debates this fall. There’s no word on whether the petition and its 180,000 some signatures had anything to do with the decision, but the selection and support for it are awesome.

For those of you unfamiliar, Candy Crowley is CNN’s Chief Political Correspondent and an all-around badass. The woman’s got a serious resume. She’s reported eight presidential elections and every national political convention since the nomination of Jimmy Carter. In the 25 years that she’s been covering politics for CNN, she’s traveled to all 50 states and earned respect and awards for her unbiased reporting. Candy Crowley is more than qualified to press Romney and Obama on the issues that matter to the American people, both men and women.

I know that some people might not view the selection of a woman moderator as a momentous occasion. I often encounter people, male and female, who feel that the gap between the sexes has closed, that there’s little need to keep rehashing it. But it does matter. It matters that women have a place in our country’s political discourse. We need to keep pushing and promoting their right to be there. That doesn’t mean we have to blindly agree with the political agenda of every woman simply because we share double x’s. On my list of why I didn’t think Sarah Palin was qualified to lead, not one had to do with her being a woman. I just wasn’t comfortable voting for someone whose post-election plans could have realistically included a stint on Dancing with the Stars (And let me be clear that I’m not knocking DWTS. It seems like an awesome opportunity to get flat abs and a serious knee injury. I would totally compete, but my career aspirations don’t require me to discuss nuclear disarmament.).

In her job as moderator on October 16th, Candy Crowley is going to ask questions that help the American people determine who they feel is qualified to lead. She not only has a place in our country’s political discourse, she’s going to be leading it that night. In doing so, more women might be able to see themselves in that correspondent’s chair—or possibly even behind those presidential hopefuls’ podiums.

So, watch the debate. Get informed. And most importantly, if you are of age, go to the polls that first Tuesday in November. Not all of us are on national stage like Candy Crowley, but be part of the conversation. Vote.

Image via Jezebel.