Whether or not you vote for her, American women can all breathe a sigh of relief that one of the nation’s two major political parties have selected a woman as their standard bearer and nominee for the nation’s highest political office—the Presidency of the United States. When former Secretary of State and U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton accepted the nomination of the Democratic Party last Thursday, it marked nearly a century since women were granted the right to vote to reach this historic moment. Congress passed the 19th Amendment to the Constitution on June 4, 1919 and it was ratified on August 18, 1920 after years of struggle by women suffragists.
That it took two cracks to break through the proverbial glass ceiling is a testament to the incredible will and determination of Hillary Clinton. After losing to President Barack Obama in a fiercely contested primary in 2008, one could have understood if she would have said she gave it her best shot and retired. After all she was 60 years old at the time and would have to wait eight years for another shot. Why did she come back for a second run? Her detractors would say it was pure ambition. I believe she did it because she felt she owed another effort to forerunners like Shirley Chisholm, Geraldine Ferraro and the hosts of others who fought to break ground for her. Women like Susan B. Anthony, Gloria Steinem and social workers Jane Addams, Ida B. Wells and Dr. Dorothy I. Height. I also think she genuinely believes she is best person to lead the nation during these challenging times.
After three decades on the national stage as a First Lady to President Bill Clinton, eight years as a U.S. Senator representing New York, and then four years as Secretary of State under President Barack Obama, you would have to be really young not to know the name Hillary Clinton. Over that length of time, her adversaries have leveled countless accusations and charges against her and the totality of being under consistent fire that long has left her reputation severely battered and bruised. Yet, she has never been formally charged for any of the real or imagined indiscretions. As I wrote in an earlier blog, she has made her share of mistakes over those thirty plus years, but the level of public acrimony seems disproportionate. The vitriol that was spewed over Twitter during her acceptance speech was breathtaking in its hate.
Her disapproval rating is around 55 percent according the Real Clear Politics. In a recent Gallup poll only 32 percent of respondents believed she is honest and trustworthy compared to 33 percent for Donald Trump. These are alarming numbers. And while her trustworthy numbers are an accumulation of decades of accusations and innuendos, perceptions often trump reality. However, a check by the Pulitzer Prize winning PolitiFact organization found Hillary Clinton’s truth versus falsehoods numbers to be better than every other candidate. While tied with Bernie Sanders and John Kasich with 51 percent of her statements being judged true or mostly true, she had a slightly lower percentage of false or mostly false statements. Last night was her first major step in changing her negative perceptions.
By all accounts, she scored well with her acceptance speech and the Democrats wrapped up a successful convention that clearly contrasted with the Republicans’ gathering last week in Cleveland. The diversity of the Democratic Party stood in stark comparison to the mostly white Republican Party both in terms of delegates and speakers. The caliber of speakers in Philadelphia—Michelle Obama, President Barack Obama, Joe Biden—far outshone the Republican lineup. Khizr Khan, the father of a Muslim soldier killed in Afghanistan captivated delegates and the viewing audience with his repudiation of Donald Trump who he said had never sacrificed anything or anyone. Democrats contrasted Donald Trump’s dark and gloomy picture of America which he said only he could mend with one of optimism, pride in the greatest county on the planet that—with everyone working together—could be even greater. Shades of Ronald Reagan’s morning in America.
The Republican Party appears to be marching inexorably off a cliff following its incoherent pied piper Donald Trump who says he has ideas about how to make America great again but offers no plans or policies to get the job done. His first job, however, is to get elected and he is finding out that he cannot do that with a bunch of angry white guys alone. The composition of the country is changing. A wall along the border with Mexico will not prevent that. Hillary Clinton and the rainbow Democrats got off to a great start last night for the sprint to the November elections.
Written By Charles E. Lewis Jr., Ph.D
Hillary Clinton Makes History as Democratic Nominee was originally published @ Charles Lewis – Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy and has been syndicated with permission.
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