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Category: Politics

The Clinton Nomination: Historic But Not Unprecedented

| August 20, 2008

That Hillary Clinton’s name is being placed in nomination at the 2008 Democratic National Convention next week in Denver is the subject of much controversy.  “Hillary Haters” are pointing to the ongoing Clinton drama.  “Hillary Lovers” are rejoicing that she will be recognized for her historic presidential bid.  I propose a middle ground:  While Hillary Clinton’s bid is historic in a multitude of ways—love her or hate her—there is precedence for her name to be placed in nomination before a major party.

At the Cow Palace in San Francisco on July 15, 1964, Margaret Chase Smith, the reserved Republican Maine senator who made a bid for the presidency, was greeted with cheers from a reception of supporters who declared:  “She is still in the race!”  Vermont Senator George Aiken nominated her at the convention, and one admirer noted, “Every woman, Republican and Democrat, owes a debt of gratitude to Margaret Chase Smith because she has opened the door for a woman to serve in the presidency.”  By the end of the convention, Margaret Chase Smith came in second with 27 delegates.  She offered advice to future candidates when she said, “If I were to run again, I would organize every state and go for the delegates at least two years in advance.”

Eight years later, New York Congresswoman, the “unbought and unbossed” Shirley Chisholm, received 151 of the delegates’ votes at the convention in Miami.  She wanted to effect political change with the power of her delegates.  At a speech she said:  “I’m just so thankful that in spite of the differences of opinions, the differences of ideology, and even sometimes within the women’s movement the differences of approaches, that here we are today at a glorious gathering of women in Miami.”

Fast-forward to 2008—and Hillary Clinton will have her name placed in nomination at the Democratic National Convention.  This isn’t a sign of weakness on the part of Barack Obama, as some pundits have suggested.  Instead, he is honoring her remarkable achievement, recognizing precedence for this, and paying a proper tribute. In addition, the 18 million voters who chose Clinton deserve recognition.

Hillary Clinton is making history and she is supporting the presumptive nominee, Barack Obama. Larry Scanlon, political director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said: "She sought to be the first woman nominated for president. She came up a little short, but she made it easier for the next female candidate to get the brass ring. Many in the Democratic Party would like to celebrate that. I think that they should celebrate that.”  Hillary Clinton is not stealing Barack Obama’s thunder, and she isn’t creating divisiveness within the Democratic Party.  A national party convention has come to be a celebration, and there is much to cheer about Hillary Clinton nearly shattering the glass ceiling.

Remember, she almost won. And that’s something no other woman in American political history has come close to accomplishing. After eight years in the White House as first lady and nearly eight years as senator from New York, she is one of America’s top Democrats and one of the most famous women in the world.  Whether you are a “Hillary Lover” or a “Hillary Hater,” it is undeniable that her bid for the presidency has given presidential politics a major shove forward, as has Barack Obama’s.  Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm: “You cannot be what you cannot see.”  The spectacle of Hillary Clinton’s name being placed in nomination, followed by a roll call of whatever length, will lend a final piece of substance to her presidential campaign story.

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