No matter your political leanings, I hope everyone really soaks in what is about to happen tonight. We often overuse the word “historic” or “historical” when discussing current events, but if you can’t objectively appreciate what is about to happen tonight, I have to question your love of history and our nation’s struggle for greater equality. I get chills when I think about all the women in our past that fought so hard for the moment we are about to witness. For instance, I’ll be honest, I tear up when I think about Alice Paul strapped down in a prison cell getting tubes forced down her nose, fighting simply for the right to vote, but now looking down tonight from above with amazement. I know many people out there wish it had been a woman other than Hillary, but I think it is actually another sign of progress that most people voting against her are doing so because they disagree with her politically, not simply because she is a woman. Further, most people voting for her are not doing it simply because she is a woman. So let’s put politics aside and celebrate the fact that even the divisive opinions of Hillary are a sign or progress and of an historic moment.
But what got us to this moment? The Guardian has a nice piece that places tonight into some historical context, reminding us that the women’s rights movement “is not ancient history,” its more modern and has played out over our lifetimes, our mother’s lifetimes, and our grandmother’s lifetimes. Best feature of this story: the short video they recently created of female visitors (including young girls) at the Women’s Rights National Historic Park in Seneca Falls, NY (birthplace of the women’s rights movement in America in 1848) reading from the Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments (essentially THE founding document of the movement that has led us to tonight). Be sure to watch it.
Obama’s speech last night was a powerhouse, and I hope you noticed how he again used his arc-of-history-bends-toward justice interpretation of history to give emotional impact to his presentation. The speech was historical in another way though, in that it was a sitting president giving an exceedingly strong endorsement to his party’s nominee. Because of typically low approval ratings at the end of two term presidencies, our recent past has seen candidates try to avoid strong connections with them. Obviously, that was not the case last night.
But getting back to women and the presidency, did you know that comedian Gracie Allen ran for president in 1940 as a publicity stunt/gag routine? Its true. “I’ll make a prediction with my eyes open,” she said, “a woman can and will be elected if she is qualified and gets enough votes.” (Perfect example of her style of comedy). Her best advice for running for president? “Just do to others as you would hate to have them do to you, and it’s in the bag.”