She came on stage wearing a long, white organza jacket over black pants and a smile that could not be contained. She was beaming, savoring the historical moment, proud even. And why shouldn’t she? Hillary Rodham Clinton will be the very first female nominee of a major political party to the Presidency of the United States. It has taken long enough.
I was trying to explain it to a man who doesn’t seem to get what the fuss is all about, who insists that gender, race or faith should not play a role in how we pick a President. All true but what the law legislates, real life doesn’t always allow. Imagine if, from the day you had memory, you had never seen a man ascend to the Presidency, I asked him. How would you feel if it finally happened?
I wouldn’t vote for a woman for the sole fact she possesses a vagina (hello, Sarah Palin) but all things being equal, between two candidates I respect and am comfortable with, I am going with the girl. Because it is time. So, yes, I suppose there is a woman card at play here but I see no shame in playing it.
It feels like an achievement. I realize it’s generational, that it carries more weight for me than, say, for my step-daughter, because I came of age when equality was a still a bit of a chimera on many levels, especially where I grew up, in Italy. Not all of us fought grand battles but all of us fought quotidian ones, and, by doing so, we slowly changed our lives and the lives of other women. Let’s pat ourselves on the back, shall we? If Mrs. Clinton becomes President it will be because she has worked towards this for many years, with diligence and doggedness, but also because of all of us who stood up for ourselves, who stood up for those who couldn’t, and wouldn’t let go.
They say that when you meet her, Mrs. Clinton is personable, engaging and a phenomenal listener with a dry sense of humor. She is also intensely private and, lacking the communication gifts of her husband, less likable through a tv screen. But do we judge her more harshly and with different standard we would a male candidate?
I have issues with some of Mrs. Clinton’s opacity and her default mode of covering things up when caught with her hand in the cookie jar. None of her “scandals” have been that scandalous but her efforts to cover them up render them more vulnerable to prolonged scrutiny. But I also believe there is nobody who is smarter, more committed or better prepared to take the reins of this country than she is.
I look at Mrs. Clinton, at 68, ready to make a difference, to serve, to follow her ambition and there is a lesson there for all of us. What can we still accomplish? And who is there to stop us?