I’ve been hard pressed to say anything positive about Senator Hillary Clinton’s bid for the Democratic Presidential nomination. Last Saturday, she just about redeemed herself by conceding the nomination to Barack Obama with perhaps greater eloquence than she ever used in her own defense. Gone were the complex and sometimes absurd calculations on why she was the better nominee. Gone were the poorly chosen words which made you doubt her ethical standards (“he’s not a Muslim, as far as I know”, “We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California”). This concession speech hit all the right notes while appropriately taking pride in the barriers that her campaign had busted down.
There was one passage in the speech that was particularly moving because it spoke to all the women voters who felt disenfranchised by Hillary’s defeat.
“Although we weren’t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it’s got about 18 million cracks in it. And the light is shining through like never before, filling us all with the hope and the sure knowledge that the path will be a little easier next time. That has always been the history of progress in America.”
Some may forget that Barack Obama is not the first African American to knock on the door of presidential opportunity. His predecessors include the improbable Al Sharpton, and the more probable Jesse Jackson and Carol Moseley Braun. Each of these candidates made the prospect of a black president more palpable to our country and made Obama’s candidacy that much easier to obtain. It can also be said that Braun, Shirley Chisolm, Lenora Fulani and Elizabeth Dole, each in their own way paved the road for Hillary.
The bottom line is that history is not always made in bold strokes but rather is made through slow gradations of color. Hillary Clinton has made the prospect of a female United States President that much more likely. Now the time has come for women to recognize how much closer they are to their goal, and support Barack Obama before John McCain sends the womens movement back to the dark ages.