Whether you like Hillary Clinton or not, June 7, 2016 was a significant day in North American history when she became the presumptive U.S. Presidential nominee for the Democratic Party and will become the first woman in the 240-year history of the U.S. to lead the presidential ticket of a major political party. Bernie Sanders’s supporters seem to think that her victory was a vast conspiracy perpetrated by the establishment and Wall Street, but ever since Hillary won the Californian primary, both Sanders and his followers have been very quiet. In fact, nobody talked about her win or his loss in California – I literally had to google it to find out what the final score was.
Even Hillary’s former critics, such as Senator Elisabeth Warren, finally came out and endorsed her. Obama also officially announced his own endorsement for his former Secretary of State and embarked on his national tour to campaign for her. Most white American men continue to intensely dislike Hillary. Many young men and women, particularly the millennials, support Sanders and see Hillary as “Killary,” “Shillary,” or “the witch.”
As Elisabeth Renzetti of The Globe and Mail said, female politicians must walk a narrow path between forcefulness and likeability. Hillary is distinctly qualified, decisive, smart, strong and tough. But these attributes do not make her likeable. In her endorsement of Hillary, Elisabeth Warren said that “for 25 years, Hillary’s been taking the incomings. The right wing has thrown everything they possibly can at her. Other people would have given up, but Hillary gets back up and she gets back in the fight.” Above all, she cares. And for many of us boomer women, her win represents all our hard work to get equal rights, equal pay and to express a strong opinion at the same table as powerful men in the board room.
I was bitterly disappointed eight years ago when Hillary had to cede the race to Barack Obama. In her concession speech, she lamented about her failure to crack “the highest, hardest glass ceiling.” But she got up, came back and keeps fighting. That’s what women should always do in a men’s world. Hillary is always among the smartest in any room, back in those Arkansas days when she became the first woman director on the board of Walmart – a position she held for six years. She is by no means perfect, but she has always inspired other women by the years of service she has devoted to her fellow Americans and her tenacity in spite of the many criticisms that came her way over the years.
I was relieved and gratified to see Hillary clinch the Democratic nomination. While watching her joyous victory speech on TV that historic night on June 7, I marveled at the numerous text messages I’ve received from other fellow boomer women, sharing their pride and excitement. But I’m waiting for the glorious moment on November 9 when we can truly celebrate this feminist icon’s victory as the first female President in the most powerful nation of the world. Only then can we tell our daughters and granddaughters that nothing is out of reach for women.
This has been, indeed, a good month for female politicians. In Europe, Rome has elected its first female mayor – 37-year-old lawyer Virginia Raggi of the 5-Star Movement – who won 67 percent of the vote in the second round. Her rival, Democrat Roberto Giachetti, who was backed by Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, conceded defeat less than an hour after polls closed. Another 5-Star candidate, Chiara Appendino, also won the mayoral race in Turin with 55 percent of the vote. In a male-dominated, chauvinistic political environment in Italy, these two female leaders are trailblazers facing daunting tasks of trying to solve corruption, traffic and mafia problems.
The road ahead will be undeniably rocky for all these women politicians. The battle between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the general elections will be bloody, brutal and ugly. In Rome, cynics are already snubbing the newly elected Raggi, predicting her not-too-distant failure. But having worked my way up to become the first double-minority (female and visible minority) partner of Canada’s largest communications firm, I believe this is just the beginning of a new chapter for all women and am confident that the future can only be bright for us all.