Last week the Democrats put on an amazing national nominating convention. One obvious triumph, unlike the Academy Awards or the Republican National Convention, was the force of diversity which was up front and center. When Bill Clinton was elected President in 1992 he was noted as having said that he wanted to put together a Cabinet that looked like America. Last week the Democrats put on a convention that looked like America. One other triumph of the convention was the array of speakers lined up to endorse Hillary Clinton for President. Two of these speeches captivated the delegates and America in two different ways. First, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke to the convention dismissing the Republican nominee’s claim to business supremacy. Bloomberg should know. He is many times richer and wealthier than the Republican nominee for President. Bloomberg is also a former Republican who now identifies as an Independent. The other surprise speech came from Khizr Khan, the father of Captain Humanyan Khan who was killed in Iraq. Khizr Khan electrified the crowd when he asked the Republican nominee if he had even read the Constitution. In a masterful display of oral theater, Khan pulled out a worn pocket edition of the Constitution stating that he would gladly lend the Republican nominee his copy. As far as I can tell, the only part of the Constitution that the Republican nominee knows anything about is the Second Amendment.
Beyond these two added bonus speeches, and there were many others, are the four speeches that gave the convention its signature place in American history. On the first night of the convention. First Lady Michelle Obama awed the delegates with her wonder of being the first African-American First Lady. She spoke from a mother’s perspective. Aside from the amazing line that she woke up each day watching her two daughters play on the White House lawn, she shared with America what it was like explaining to her children why some people questioned whether their father was even born in the United States. This was a wrenching moment that placed the entire “Birther” spectacle into its proper mean spirited racist and idiotic context. The whole of the following day was spent analyzing the First Lady’s address.
The second night of the convention placed former President Bill Clinton in the spotlight. When Hillary Clinton becomes the 45th President, new language will have to emerge regarding how to refer a male spouse of the first woman president. Nevertheless, Bill Clinton provided an excellent narrative of Hillary from her days as a teenage activist to her securing of the Democratic nomination for President. The take away from this narrative is that Hillary has always been on the frontlines advocating for “a more perfect union.” The former President’s speech was given from the perspective of a personal admirer who fell in love with the particular “girl.” He nor the girl would have predicted that she would become the first woman President of the United States. In my classes, I constantly tell students that their own narratives are not that dissimilar from the narratives they hear concerning famous individuals. I tell them that once they achieve fame everyone will want to know their story.
Wednesday, the penultimate night of the Democratic national convention, gave the keynote microphone to the greatest keynote speaker ever, President Barack Obama. Obama reminisced about having address this same convention in 2004. The purpose of the 2004 convention was to give John Kerry a great send off to defeat incumbent President George W. Bush. Kerry failed in his quest, but four years later Barack Obama would ascend to the presidency as the first African American to reach that plateau. Ironically, President Obama had defeated Hillary Clinton in 2008 for the Democratic nomination. This time around he was attempting to secure his legacy by securing her presidency. Given the power of his speech, I believe he will succeed. After President Obama concluded his remarks, Hillary joined him on stage for a surprise cameo appearance. As Hillary and Barack embraced and strolled across the stage, they embodied the perfect living metaphors for the Fifteenth and Nineteenth Amendments.
Hillary Clinton was front and center for the last night of the DNC. This was also the night when Khizr Khan challenged Hillary’s opponent. Former First Lady, New York Senator, and Secretary of State Clinton was introduced to the delegates by her daughter Chelsea. The introduction was extraordinary in its simplicity. How many more daughters will have the opportunity to introduce their mothers as the nominee of a major American political party for the presidency of the United States? When Hillary Clinton emerged in her white suit, she looked every bit the part of a president. Her speech was etched in humility yet bolstered by unmatched experience. There is no question that Hillary Clinton is more qualified to be President of the United States more than her Republican counterpart. The unfortunate reality is that because she is a woman, many will act as if she is inherently unqualified. Nevertheless, the future of America’s standing in the world is at stake. In order for America’s history not to be shattered, that final glass ceiling must be shattered. As Hillary stated, “When there is no ceiling, the sky is the limit.”
Anthony Neal earned his Ph.D. in political science at Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University). Dr. Neal is an associate professor at State University College, Buffalo. The author of numerous book reviews and journal articles, he has had his work published in the Western Journal of Black Studies, the Journal of Black Studies, and Black Issues in Higher Education. In 2014 Dr. Neal received the university’s Faculty Appreciation Award, was named Instructor of the Year by the university’s United Student Government, and Professor of the Year by the Student Political Society in the Department of Political Science. In 2015, he published The American Political Narrative which is a succinct yet poignant narrative about the development of the American political system and what is needed to maintain it. In 2016, he will publish a book of poetry entitled “Love Agnostic | from 9/11 to Charleston”
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