There were many impressive, moving moments at this year’s Democratic National Convention. I only remember the last few conventions but the speeches this time were better than ever. My favorite speeches of the convention were by Al Gore and Hillary Clinton. Hillary appeared stronger and more powerful then ever as she proceeded to yell into the mic throughout her speech. Her voice was even getting raspy at the end as if her small body couldn’t contain her passion. I was pleased to see that she swallowed her ego and endorsed Obama uniting the party. The next morning on my way to work, I listened to National Public Radio in the car and I was shocked to hear all the political pundits saying that Hillary didn’t go far enough to endorse Obama. I, along with the rest of the Democrats, were looking for any sense of insincerity in her support for Obama and I couldn’t find any facial expression, gesture, or word that cast a doubt. Just to make sure I hadn’t missed anything, I read over the transcript of her speech. Below are several exerts where she clearly states her support for Obama:
“I am honored to be here tonight. A proud mother. A proud Democrat. A proud American. And a proud supporter of Barack Obama.”
“Whether you voted for me, or voted for Barack, the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose. We are on the same team, and none of us can sit on the sidelines.”
“Barack Obama is my candidate. And he must be our President.”
After listing reasons why she ran for president, she says, “Those are the reasons I ran for President. Those are the reasons I support Barack Obama. And those are the reasons you should too.”
“We need to elect Barack Obama because we need a President who understands that America can’t compete in a global economy by padding the pockets of energy speculators…”
“Barack Obama began his career fighting for workers displaced by the global economy.”
“And when Barack Obama is in the White House, he’ll revitalize our economy…”
“Barack Obama will end the war in Iraq responsibly and bring our troops home – a first step to repairing our alliances around the world.”
Most importantly, there is a section of her speech where she says, “Were you in this campaign for me?” or was it for the Democratic cause.
As I remembered that she talked about Obama throughout her entire speech, the reality check set in that no matter what she says the media will always criticize her. Is it discrimination or do they just hate her? I’m not sure, but it’s amazing how far she has come with the media pointing out every possible flaw in her speeches, actions and appearance, and making up drama when there is none. Click here to see an exert from the Daily Show making fun of the pundits at the end of this clip.
Anyways, for those of us that actually listened to the speech, it was the most feminist speech I have heard on a national platform during my life time, which is why I liked the speech. I have always believed human rights is the most important issue of our time and often takes a back seat to other political issues. When Hillary was listing the reasons she ran for president she included, “To fight for an America defined by deep and meaningful equality – from civil rights to labor rights, from women’s rights to gay rights, from ending discrimination to promoting unionization to providing help for the most important job there is: caring for our families. To help every child live up to his or her God-given potential. To make America once again a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws.” I was so impressed by this statement because it takes a lot of guts to talk about the rights of gays and immigrants these days. Politicians are scared to stand up the rights of these groups because there is so much overt prejudice that no one will vote for such candidates. The center of the political spectrum has become much more conservative as Republicans push for a constitutional amendment to limit gays from marrying to prevent same sex partner to have the same legal rights as married couples when inheriting land and power of attorney issues. There has been several measures in each state across the country targeted against immigrants along with unjust racial profiling. There has also been multiple raids on factories recently where illegal immigrant workers are deported without their family being contacted and minor consequences to the business owner. The business owners should be punished more harshly than the workers!
Hillary ended her speech with this:
“I’m a United States Senator because in 1848 a group of courageous women and a few brave men gathered in Seneca Falls, New York, many traveling for days and nights, to participate in the first convention on women’s rights in our history. And so dawned a struggle for the right to vote that would last 72 years, handed down by mother to daughter to granddaughter – and a few sons and grandsons along the way. These women and men looked into their daughters’ eyes, imagined a fairer and freer world, and found the strength to fight. To rally and picket. To endure ridicule and harassment. To brave violence and jail. And after so many decades – 88 years ago on this very day – the 19th amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote would be forever enshrined in our Constitution. My mother was born before women could vote. But in this election my daughter got to vote for her mother for President. This is the story of America. Of women and men who defy the odds and never give up. How do we give this country back to them?
By following the example of a brave New Yorker , a woman who risked her life to shepherd slaves along the Underground Railroad. And on that path to freedom, Harriett Tubman had one piece of advice. If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If they’re shouting after you, keep going. Don’t ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.
Even in the darkest of moments, ordinary Americans have found the faith to keep going. I’ve seen it in you. I’ve seen it in our teachers and firefighters, nurses and police officers, small business owners and union workers, the men and women of our military – you always keep going. We are Americans. We’re not big on quitting. But remember, before we can keep going, we have to get going by electing Barack Obama president.”
It is too rare that politicians remind us of the amazing women that came before us who fought for the rights we have today. Hillary said she couldn’t break the glass ceiling, but “it’s got about 18 million cracks.” Hillary Clinton is an important historical figure that has paved the way for the rest of us. I look forward to seeing what she does next. John Stewart, Steve Colbert and other media personalities usually make fun of Hillary portraying her as a vicious bull dog that won’t give up and now I can see why – by following the example of great woman before her. Woman leaders have always had to be stronger than the average person to excel in this patriarchal society. The message about never giving up is a fundamental American value. Americans never want to be viewed as quitters and want to be seen as tough. We might be perceived as bullies by the rest of the world (rightly so), but that is better than being perceived as pussies like the French. The best Americans are the strong individuals that never give up in hard times and Hillary Clinton is a perfect example.