Why is it that Margaret Thatcher can be the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, but Geraldine Ferraro cannot be the Vice-President of the United States? Some say the prospect of a female President of the United States is a distinct possibility in the next decade. Others say a female presidency is a pipe dream due to the glass ceiling that exists in American politics. Like it or not, the 2008 presidential election may change everything. The next Democratic candidate for presidency of the United States might just be a woman.

When Hillary Clinton became the Junior Senator of New York in 2000, there was speculation in political circles that she would eventually run for president. Since John Kerry's loss in the past November election, Clinton has emerged as the Democratic frontrunner for 2008. Not only would her election bring much-needed political power back to the Democratic Party, it would also change American history and foreign policy forever.

Clinton began her political career as Hillary Rodham at Wellesley University where, interestingly enough, she was a member of the College Republicans. Later in her college career, she became a Democrat. At Yale University Law School, Hillary Rodham met William Jefferson Clinton. They married in 1975, three years after graduation. In 1976, Clinton joined the Rose Law firm in Little Rock, Arkansas where she went on to gain the majority of her legal experience.

Serving as First Lady of Arkansas and the United States of America allowed Clinton to gain valuable insight and experience in the political arena. While being First Lady had its advantages, Clinton became involved in two scandals that surrounded both herself and her husband. First, the Clintons were accused of fraud after investing in the Whitewater Development Corporation, a realty corporation, during Clinton's first term as president.

Later in his presidency, the Whitewater scandal resurfaced and Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr began his investigation of the Clintons' involvement. In 1998, Starr's investigation began to focus on the charges of perjury, witness tampering and obstruction of justice facing Bill Clinton in a sexual harassment case brought against him by Paula Jones. Bill Clinton denied any sexual involvement with Jones or former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Hillary Clinton sprang to her husband's defense, going as far as appearing on the "Today Show" to call Kenneth Starr's investigation part of a "vast right wing conspiracy" designed to remove her popular husband from office. When Bill Clinton admitted to lying about his role in the Monica Lewinsky affair, the result was an initial public relations disaster for the First Lady. However, standing by her husband in the face of infidelity, scandal and impeachment proved to be beneficial to Clinton's image. She was able to parlay her trustworthy, steadfast reputation with the American public into a Senate seat.

When Clinton announced her intention to run for the Junior Senator seat in the 2000 election, the road to Capitol Hill was not so well-paved. Serving as First Lady had done nothing to appease her critics. They argued that Clinton had no real political career and was using her husband's popularity to gain a Senate seat. Her detractors also branded Clinton a carpetbagger. She hails from Arkansas and had never lived in New York. Clinton went on to defeat her opponent, Republican Rick Lazio, and served alongside Senior Senator Charles Schumer.

Clinton is currently in her second term as Senator of New York. She has never formally announced her intentions to run for President in 2008. Publicly, Clinton says she is concentrating on running for re-election in 2006. However, there is a general consensus that she would be the natural candidate for the Democrats. She is charismatic and has had the benefit of being in the public eye since Bill Clinton first ran for President in 1992. Her many connections would make it easy for her to raise campaign funds.

As shown in her 2000 Senate race, Clinton's name recognition has its benefits and detriments. Her critics say that two terms as a First Lady and two terms as a Senator are hardly enough experience to run the country.

Clinton has some competition if she intends to run for President. Despite his loss, John Kerry may attempt to run again. He has not slipped out of the public eye since losing the 2004 election. Perhaps Kerry learned from his predecessor, former Democratic Presidential candidate Al Gore. Gore virtually disappeared following the widely-contested 2000 election, thus crushing any chance of running in 2004. Kerry has stayed vocal in recent months, voicing his opposition to the Bush Administration's policies, including the President's health care plan.

Other Democrats who may throw their hats into the ring are former Democratic Presidential candidate Wesley Clark, Delaware Senator Joe Biden, Virginia Governor Mark Warner, Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, and even Kerry's former running-mate, John Edwards. With the exception of Kerry and Edwards, these potential candidates lack the very strength Clinton is relying on: name recognition. For these candidates, their bid for election will begin with the challenge of introducing themselves to the American public.

There are many possible presidential candidates from the Republican Party. If she secures her party's nomination, Clinton may face Florida Governor Jeb Bush, New York Governor George Pataki, or Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. There have even been rumors that current Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice may run on the Republican ticket. However, many critics say that the possibility of two women running from both major parties is an unlikely scenario.

If Clinton is elected, she stands to make history unlike any other President. She would be the first female President of United States. She would be the first former First Lady to become President. Clinton and her husband would be the first married couple to occupy that position.

For years, there has been deliberation in this country: is the United States ready to be lead by a female President? Like it or not, Hillary Clinton may just be that woman. The campaign trail may be familiar territory for Clinton, but this time she's leading the way.

Callan Wright is a sophomore International Business major at the College of New Jersey. She plans on attending law school to pursue a career in corporate law after graduation.