The Next Forty Presidents
33 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2017 Last revised: 7 Aug 2018
Date Written: September 11, 2017
A thought experiment in feminist constitutionalism, this Essay explores a radical argument: allow only women to be elected as the next forty U.S. presidents. While on its face blatantly discriminatory, the 40 female presidents rule turns out to be a robustly justifiable idea, along multiple axes of political fairness, and not to women alone — rather to the electorate as a whole. Due to several of its unique characteristics, the presidency turns out to be particularly fitting to innovation that would correct past injustices of political exclusion. Corrective justice, affirmative action, feminist critique, voter autonomy, and the democratic costs of identity politics all provide support to the strategy suggested in the Essay, arguably outweighing rejoinders and critiques, both fairness-based and consequentialist.
While adoption of the 40 female presidents rule is not expected to happen in the foreseeable future, its serious consideration reveals a set of novel arguments in the fields of political fairness, gender equality, and democratic representation; and hints at the institutional contours of a temporal theory of corrective justice. Through the exploration of the suggested corrective strategy, our moral and institutional imaginations are, hopefully, broadened.
Keywords: president, elections, feminism, affirmative action
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