On Tuesday night, history was made. Whether you like Hillary Clinton, don’t like her, or can’t seem to muster any enthusiasm for her the fact is that based on her dominance in the primary on Tuesday night and the primary in general she is the first woman to be the nominee for a major political party in America.
I was pretty much glued to the television on Tuesday night, I even stayed up to watch Bernie Sanders speak even after he was way behind schedule, probably hoping that the California returns, which were at 60+% for Hillary Clinton when the first wave of vote by mail ballots came through, was going to tighten up so he’d have more good news than simply winning the North Dakota caucus and Montana.
But what got me tearing up last night was the video that played at Hillary Clinton’s rally right before she spoke. I’m not that sentimental of a person, although I’ve gotten a lot more weepy as I age, but this really moved me. Perhaps because I’m right about that age where my youthful idealism and belief that competence would be rewarded regardless of race and gender has pretty much been worn away from year after year of subtle and not-so-subtle misogyny and prejudice. But the enormity of what has happened just eight years after another historic moment in America smacked me really hard in the face on Tuesday night.
There was this great article in the New Republic about how every single male candidate’s supporters have been profiled, but nothing about the Hillary Clinton supporter. Perhaps because folks like me, even though I’m pretty unshy about stating my political feelings, I never felt that comfortable about a full throated pronouncement that I was with her. Not because I wasn’t excited about Hillary Clinton as a candidate, mostly because I didn’t want to deal with the inevitable onslaught of Bernie Sanders memes. Here’s the relevant line:
It’s certainly curious to presume, as many do, that Clinton’s supporters are somehow less enthusiastic than Sanders’s are. How is enthusiasm measured, if not by actual vote count? And they are doing so despite the media narrative surrounding their candidate, despite hearing very little about themselves in the media, despite her “damn” emails, despite Benghazi, despite her low Gallup favorables, and despite how everyone else is “Feeling the Bern.” If anything, Clinton might need to thank the press for consistently underestimating her. Perhaps this is why her supporters are coming out for her in such strength: to assert their existence in the face of a narrative that both overlooks them and disparages their candidate.
It’s funny that someone from Alameda posted on twitter before the California results rolled in that they expected, based on signs and shirt wearing, that Alameda’s Bernie to Hillary margin would be an easy 99% – 1% But according to Alameda’s Registrar of Voters the final Alameda County wide split was 53% – 46%. There’s not a by city breakdown yet, unless Mike McMahon has uncovered it.
In the end, Hillary Clinton’s nomination makes me hopeful that perhaps, eventually, competence will get accurately rewarded regardless of one’s gender or race. I don’t expect everything to change overnight, progress is incremental, but this is one barrier that has been broken. I comfort myself with the hope that if Hillary Clinton is elected president of the United States then my children and their peers will have grown up in an America where the leader of the country looks vastly different than the ones that have preceded them and that they have not grown up with the belief that only white men are eligible to reach the highest ranks of leadership in our country.