Hillary Clinton has claimed victory in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, and at this point, it’s all over but the shouting. There will still be plenty of that from Bernie Sanders’ supporters, particularly around her reliance on superdelegates. But the fact remains, Clinton won about 3.5 million more votes total than Sanders. It’s been a hard slog for Clinton, harder than it should have been, but now she can turn her attention to November.
Given the choice between Clinton and a candidate whose own supporters call him racist, it’s not hard to make a call as to who will win your vote. Still, using Trump as a bar against which to measure Clinton doesn’t do her nomination justice. Trump, wholly unprepared to be the leader of the free world, himself will scare women voters–all kinds of voters, really–into her own camp. But she is a formidable candidate in her own right.
Here are four reasons why having a major party nominate a woman as president will benefit us…
1. Breaking the glass ceiling again
We need to celebrate other firsts if we are ever to accomplish our own. Want a gay or lesbian presidential nominee? We need to see other barriers fall, eliminating all non-performance related barriers to political power. While our advances have been swift, the modern LGBTQ movement is relatively young compared to the struggles for women and people of color. With Barack Obama and now Hillary Clinton, two major barriers were shattered. That clears the way for a serious LGBT candidate in the not-too-distant future. (And no, Fred Karger is never going to be the guy.)
2. Reinforcing identity politics
Maybe the day will come when gender or sexual identity doesn’t matter in American politics. But that day isn’t here yet, not by a long shot. Clinton’s nomination clearly highlights the importance of identity politics, and she understands it intimately in a way that Sanders never did. She made a point of her feminist credentials and of appealing to women. It’s when (largely Republican) candidates argue that they are blind to race, gender or orientation that you have to worry, because it’s the first step toward having your movement de-legitimized. That’s not going to happen now with a woman heading the Democratic ticket.
3. Defeating the religious right
We all know the battles that the Clintons have had with the vast right-wing conspiracy. Hillary will not underestimate them as foes, nor the dangers they present to LGBTQ equality worldwide. But putting aside the political difference, having a strong woman as the party nominee undermines many of the tropes the religious right likes to trot out about women. As much as they may applaud their right-wing female politicians, conservative Christians still believe that a woman’s greatest accomplishment is being a wife and mother. To them, being president of the United States is not a role designated for a woman. Showing that a woman can hold the most powerful position in the free world further undermines the dying world view of the religious right of rigid gender–and by extension sexual–roles.
4. Working harder, knowing more
One of the unfortunate facts of any strong successful woman’s life is that she has to work harder and know more than a male colleague. Clinton certainly fits the bill, commanding an impressive knowledge of the arcana of policy and a wealth of experience. While that’s a sad commentary on what it takes for a woman to reach the top, those kind of hard-earned smarts will only pay dividends for us and other allies.
Of course, all of these points apply to certain woman. If the nominee in question were, say Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann, we’d be having a much different conversation. Luckily, the first woman to be nominated is one who is staunchly pro-gay (if a little slow to show it at times). She was particularly passionate about advancing our cause worldwide as secretary of state, and that’s where so much work toward equality and against violence and discrimination still need to be done. The fact remains: A historical breakthrough of this kind is good for us.
In fact, it’s good for the nation, particularly when it’s contrasted with the harrowing alternative that the Republicans are floating, albeit half-heartedly.