What a moment
Eight years ago, I was privileged to be a member of the New York state delegation and to cast one of the votes that resulted in our country achieving a historic milestone: nominating the first African-American candidate for President.
And on Tuesday, I was proud to help make history again and vote to officially nominate the first female candidate for President. The day had special resonance for me because as Hillary Clinton was nominated, I kept thinking about my six grand-nieces and how the world had now changed for them. They now know that a woman could become President — something that will forever change how they see their places in their world.
What a moment.
And one long in the making.
One-hundred years ago, women did not have the right to vote, and black men, though technically constitutionally able since 1870, were still disenfranchised through most of the South. And now our first black President stands poised to pass the baton to the first female President.
What a moment.
But as joyful as this moment is, we have months to go before we declare victory, and during that time we cannot lose sight of the reasons why we must.
On Monday night, first lady Michelle Obama spoke powerfully, emotionally and eloquently about what’s at stake in this election. She talked about shaping the future for our children and the importance of not being cruel or a bully. She reminded us that Hillary Clinton, unlike her opponent, has advocated for health care, for women and girls, for the LGBTQ community. She talked about leaving something better for our children.
On Tuesday night, Mothers of the Movement — black women whose children were killed by violence — were put center stage at the Democratic National Convention and given a standing ovation. The mother of Sandra Bland, who died in a jail cell after a traffic stop, called Hillary Clinton “a leader and mother who will say our children’s names.”
The mother of Jordan Davis, shot and killed for playing music loudly, said “Hillary Clinton isn’t afraid to say that black lives matter. She isn’t afraid to sit at a table with grieving mothers and bear the full force of our anguish. Not only did she listen to our problems, she invited us to become part of the solution.”
In contrast, Donald Trump, Mike Pence and the Republican convention were dismissive of Black Lives Matter. Last year, when a black activist arrived at one of his speeches, Trump said the man “should have been roughed up.”
When former President — and soon to be first husband — Bill Clinton spoke Tuesday night, he underscored how Hillary Clinton has been a lifelong advocate for underserved communities: She unmasked an illegally segregated school in Alabama, registered Mexican-American voters in Texas, traveled to South Carolina to see why black youth were jailed with adult criminals, and helped reform the youth justice system. She fought for equal access to education for children with disabilities and implemented an innovative preschool program in Arkansas.
Again, this contrasts with the rhetoric from Trump, who wants to build a wall to keep out Mexican immigrants, has made fun of people with disabilities and has no recommendations for justice reform, early education or education at all.
The world that Trump and Pence conjured in Cleveland last week is not one that is better for our children. It is vastly, darkly worse. It is a world that discriminates, that bullies and teases and mocks. It is cruel. It does not sit with grieving mothers and say the names of their lost children.
This question of the future we want for our children, for our country, and who will be the one to provide it has been raised again and again in these first few days of the convention — because at precisely this moment in history, when one side offers hope and love and the other stands on the doorstep of hatred and violence — it is so critical. Lives are at stake.
Closing out his speech Tuesday, Bill Clinton said: “Those of us who have more yesterdays than tomorrows tend to care more about our children and grandchildren — the reason you should elect her is that in the greatest country on Earth we’ve always been about tomorrow. Your children and grandchildren will bless you forever if you do.”
What a moment, indeed.
By Christine Quinn