Published July 1968 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
From the Office of United States Senator Robert C. Byrd 105 Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510 Volume VII - Number 29 July 19, 1968 Byrd's Eye View A Public Service Column By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd HATS IN THE RING! The remark, "Toss Your Hat In The Ring, “denoting public assertion by an eligible American citizen of an intent to seek political office, is increasing1y conjuring up a vision of beribboned, feathered, and flower-bedecked hats being cast into the political arena by feminine office-seekers. Beginning in 1916, with the election of Mrs. Jeanette Rankin of Montana on the Republican ticket to serve in the 75th Congress, through. the present 90th Congress, there have been 74 women to serve in the U.S. Congress Of these 74 lady law-makers, only 10 have served in the Senate, and only one, the Honorable Margaret Chase Smith of Maine, has served in both House and Senate. It is further notable that this highly respected New England Senator is also the only woman to be an openly avowed and recognized candidate for the Presidency of the U.S. However, it is quite probable that the U.S. voting public will see more female candidates campaigning in their own behalf in the future. Thus, female citizens who have some thought of seeking public office may wish to reflect on the past experiences of successful women office-seekers and to review some of the assessments of knowledgeable observers of the U.S. political scene who have watched female candidates win and lose political contests. As one suggestion, it has been said that more females might benefit by exploiting a strong feminine proclivity for communicating by telephone, thus copying the example of the 2nd woman to be elected to Congress, Mrs. Alice Robertson of Oklahoma, who in 1922 campaigned by telephone. As another avenue of public office, the ladies have been advised to choose a husband with strong political interests, as more than one-third of the women members of Congress have been appointed or subsequently elected to seats formerly held by their husbands. As another recommendation, the lady candidate is encouraged to be a persuasive orator while seeking election, but thereafter, in winning favor with, and supporting votes from, male Congressional colleagues, to develop a reputation for few and short speeches. One astute former Congresswoman once stated certain admonitions for ambitious female office seekers: be feminine, but not too feminine; be friendly--within reason; listen more than you talk; take care of the home folks; and work, work, work Yet another successful female politician pointed out that a woman seeking a Congressional career would be more successful if she were a "loner", with no family demands to divert her thoughts and energies from service to her constituents back home. However, another long-time Congressional office holder retorted by pointing out that this would almost automatically eliminate the woman office-seeker from aspiring to the Presidency, the ultimate political office, because American voters are totally wedded to the tradition of a President who is a fine husband and devoted father, with a charming, loyal wife, and healthy, attractive children. As still more advice to the female office-seeker, it has been suggested that she not be merely heavily endowed wi.th feminine instincts for guidance, but that she also have a deep political instinct in order to survive in the rough-and-tumble of political life; that she develop early a hard core of loyal followers as an established political base; and it would help if she were a recognized public figure identified with some popular cause. As one point in common agreement by all, a lot of hard work is necessary in achieving any successful political career for either female or male.