Political pundits opine that now that we have our first black president, the next occupant of the White House should be a woman. The passing of Margaret Thatcher is a timely reminder that this is not the way the world works.
The grocer’s daughter who became a baroness was the first female prime minister of the United Kingdom, not because of, but despite the fact that she was a woman.
In the first half of the 17th century a civil war in Britain was fought to determine whether the country should be ruled by king or parliament.
In the second half of the 20th century, the question was whether the country would be run by parliament or the trade unions.
Labor prime ministers were beholden to the union leaders, their paymasters. Conservative prime ministers were afraid of them.
Edward Heath, the conservative prime minister who preceded Thatcher, took them on and failed.
He lost the next election, but it appeared he would remain leader of his party because no male member had the courage to challenge his authority.
Thatcher exhibited the courage that would later lead to the downfall and replacement of an Argentine dictator. In 1979 she won a general election and became prime minister.
President Reagan, to whom she is often compared, reshaped his party but had no influence on the Democrats.
Thatcher’s success inspired Tony Blair to change the Labor Party from a belief that government should run the economy to one that espoused free-market capitalism.
Does the United States have its Margaret Thatcher waiting in the wings?
The answer is no. Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann were lightweights. Hilary Clinton, who could have polished her credentials by being a successful secretary of State, chose the role of world traveler instead.