I grew up in England during Margaret Thatcher’s era as Prime Minister. When I moved to America (I was 12, and entered 8th grade), the idea of a woman as President was something my classmates talked about sometimes. It was usually something a boy would say to a girl, as a taunt: You could never be President, because you’re a girl. I was a bit mystified by that, having seen Ms. Thatcher’s domination of British politics, but the taunt seemed true in 1979 in America. No woman seemed likely to even run for the office, let alone win.
In high school and college (most especially in 1984 when Geraldine Ferraro was the Dem’s VP nomination), during political discussions we sometimes wondered at what year would America progress to the point where a woman candiate or an African-American candidate would realistically stand a chance of winning. The answer, usually, was it would take a couple more generations for that to be realistic. 2020 or so at the earliest.
Now that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have both declared their intentions to run next year, it seems to me that no other Democratic nomination will have either the name recognition or momentum that they bring to the race. And given the Republican performance in 2006′s House and Senate elections, it doesn’t seem too far a stretch for me to predict that America’s next President will either be a woman or a member of a minority. So, the answer to the high school and college speculation should have been 2008.