Tonight, we will hear Hillary Rodham Clinton accept the Democratic Presidential nomination. This is the long awaited result of about 180 years of grueling work on the part of brave American suffragettes such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone, Sojourner Truth, Alice Paul, Carrie Chapman Catt, Jeannette Pickering Rankin, and so many others whose names history has lost.
Women such as Hattie Caraway, Betty Friedan, Coretta Scott King, Bella Abzug, Gloria Steinem, bell hooks, Shirley Chisolm, Madeleine Albright, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and so many we are forever indebted to all share a bit of credit and a lot of joy in Hillary’s victory.
Hillary has always placed care for women and children at the center of her life. From her early work at the Children’s Defense Fund to her advocacy for health care and family leave to helping to create the Office on Violence Against Women at the DOJ to her innovative, groundbreaking feminist foreign policy initiatives at the State Department to her advocacy for LGBT to her ongoing support of Planned Parenthood to…really, the list is nearly infinite. Her career has been a paragon of feminism.
On a personal level, I find Hillary an inspiration to young and old alike. I look at her and know that no matter how much she suffered, no matter what horrific, cruel things people say about her, no matter the betrayals or failures she’s endured, she’s never given up on her dream of improving people’s lives through public service. Hillary is a miracle of strength, compassion, and courage.
And I see how she’s transformed my daughter’s vision of the world. My daughter can see with her own eyes that absolutely anything is possible.
When people say they wish it had been a different woman, I see that as an absence of gratitude. Because no other woman did the emotionally gut-wrenching, intellectually challenging, nearly back-breaking hard work to win this nomination. Jill Stein has not done a tenth as much to be in this race. Elizabeth Warren simply did not want to run. In the 240 year history of our country, very few women have dared to mount a Presidential campaign. None have done so as successfully as Hillary Rodham Clinton.
And Hillary isn’t just competing to win in any election. She’s dealing with the most narcissistic, misogynistic, out of control, verbally violent man America has ever seen in a Presidential campaign. And that’s after already dealing with over a quarter of a century of misogyny and vitriol, in the public eye.
So, what people are saying when they wish a political Virgin Mary had run instead, is that a battered and bruised woman isn’t good enough. I do not think any woman could get through this process unscathed. But thanks to Hillary, now they have a better chance.
Hillary’s presidency will likely usher in a fourth wave of feminism…and there may be a fifth and sixth and so on. Until we get it right.
Tonight is another start. The applause we hear so loudly will be emanating from Philadelphia, around the country, all over the world and…heaven, too.
Over 130 years ago, poet Emma Lazarus wrote a poem that still stands immutable today:
The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Emma Lazarus, 1883
For over a century, these thrilling words of kindness have been emblazoned on Lady Liberty, expressing America’s fondest wish and most heartfelt goals. Tonight, the Statue of Liberty comes alive in Hillary Rodham Clinton.