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Making history

You've probably noticed that I've written very little about this presidential primary season -- my last and so far only post on the subject was in November. That doesn't mean I don't have thoughts, of course. I've shared plenty on Twitter (by far my most active social media presence these days), and sometimes Tumblr posts as well, and it's all but taken over my Facebook feed (although I took a break from posting election-related content myself from about March through Clinton mathematically clinching the nomination). But my journal hasn't really seemed like the venue to share them. Until now.

Because there's no way I'm letting a milestone like this go by without marking it down for posterity. On Thursday night, July 28th, 2016, I had friends over to watch Hillary Clinton become the first woman to accept the presidential nomination of a major political party, giving her a very real shot to become the first female President of the United States of America. We cheered and we cried and we broke out a bottle of champagne. As I watched her speak, I thought about the generations of women who worked and fought and died for this moment. I watched women and men basking in the glory of a victory they may have never expected to see. I looked at the faces of girls in the audience, rapt with attention and brimming with possibility. I took it all in, and I relished it. Sure, it's not exactly a surprise -- this has been the anticipated outcome of the 2016 Democratic primary since at least 2008 -- and yet there's a part of me that couldn't believe it was happening, that still can't quite believe it's real.

I've always hoped to see a woman become president in my lifetime, but for many years I assumed that the first female president would be a Republican. My reasoning? It seemed more likely to me that a moderate Republican woman (think Elizabeth Dole, or Christine Todd Whitman) could attract support from moderate Democratic women than the other way around, and that such support would be necessary to offset the people who simply couldn't vote for any woman as president. Also, any viable female presidential candidate would need to project a tough image: in particular, be a strong supporter of the military. And until not so long ago, those were policy positions associated with the Republican Party. So I thought it made sense that a centrist Republican would be more likely to break through this particular glass ceiling.

And the truth is, I would have raised a glass to that theoretical Republican, too. Chances are I wouldn't have voted for her, but I still would've cheered her accomplishment. The fact of a woman, any woman, being poised to take the highest office in the land is a blow against sexism. A small one, to be sure, if the woman in question campaigned on a regressive platform. But a blow nonetheless. And whatever you think of Hillary Clinton, her policies, and the trajectory of her political career*, you cannot argue that she hasn't made promoting equal rights for women and girls a priority throughout her life.

This isn't the end of the battle, of course. Electing a female president wouldn't end sexism any more than Barack Obama's election ended racism. We need more women and people of color -- especially women of color -- at all levels of government, from local positions to the White House and beyond, before we can truly say that we've won anything. (I think of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her vision of an all-female Supreme Court.) But just as Obama's candidacy was an important step along that path, so is Clinton's, and I hope we can hold this progress going forward.

*Which is not something I intend to argue about here. I'm happy to have substantive debate about Clinton as a politician and a candidate on another day, but that's not the point of this post. This is a moment to celebrate, for me and millions of others, and I intend to make the most of it.

This entry is also posted at http://owlmoose.dreamwidth.org/750421.html. There are currently comment count unavailable comments on DW.

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