Great news politico moms and dads. We’re getting our first female moderator for the 2012 presidential debates in two decades. Although women have moderated vice presidential debates in the past, CNN chief political correspondent and anchor Candy Crowley is our first woman moderator for the general debates in 20 years. On October 16th, she’ll be chatting up all kinds of policy decisions with President Obama and Mitt Romney in the only town hall-style debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. And while we should probably cheers the Commission on Presidential Debates for their decision, I’m definitely going to raise my celebratory glass to three teenage girls from New Jersey who petitioned for such change in the first place.
Prior to the efforts of Elena Tsemberis, Sammi Siegel, and Emma Axelrod, our lack of female representation during the general debates hadn’t captured many recent major headlines. The three teens famously wrote in their Charge.org petition that after a learning 20 years had passed since a lady was policing the presidential podiums, they felt compelled “to take action.” Over 100,000 signatures later, we have Crowley to look forward to come October. And while the Commission may have very well picked Crowley, or some other reputable woman anyway, it was the efforts of these young girls that got the very issue thrust into the press — a usually difficult endeavor for underage girls if they aren’t making sex tapes or posting scandalous photos of themselves. Call me cynical, but I supremely doubt that The New York Times, one of the biggest boys clubs today, was just hankering to run an article about the gender disparity in presidential moderators.
These young ladies not only perhaps incentivized this pick, but at the very least, successfully brought the issue to our attention. And a time when many other less consequential stories — like Jennifer Aniston‘s engagement – are competing for those same eyeballs. So while many will tune in on October 16th thinking of Crowley, I know that as I’ll open my laptop and log on, I’ll be thinking of those young ladies.