Hillary Clinton finally has it signed and sealed. Thursday night, she accepted the Democratic nomination for president at the party’s convention in Philadelphia.
Then, she delivered, though a multiplicity of eloquent speakers did so on her behalf all week, starting with first lady Michelle Obama and winding up with the nominee’s daughter. The proceedings were upbeat, joyful even, a bracing counterpoint to the GOP’s doom-and-gloom fest.
Speakers humanized the candidate, filled in a lot of blanks, smoothed the rough edges, countered the caricature of a woman who’s not trustworthy, not a fighter, not fit for the highest office in the land.
Ms. Clinton, over the course of her professional career, has been defined, for good or for ill — mostly ill — by just about everyone else anyway. This week, some heavy-hitters took turns, including first lady Michelle Obama, Cory Booker, a somewhat subdued Elizabeth Warren, Bill Clinton, of course, and Michael Bloomberg, of all people. Then there was President Obama, sounding for all the world like Ronald Reagan peddling hope and that shining city on the hill, and his full-throated, open-hearted endorsement.
But on Thursday night, after being introduced by her daughter, Chelsea, it was the nominee’s turn to define herself: a unifier, an optimist, fearless, an agent of change: “No one gets through life alone. We have to look out for each other and lift each other up.” But, “To drive real change, you have to change hearts — and laws.”
She flaunted her very real accomplishments on behalf of disabled children, of 9/11 families.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Democratic convention without protest and controversy — though the usually lock-stepping Republicans also showed themselves to be pretty adept at both last week in Cleveland. The Wikileaks revelations that the Democratic National Committee indeed played favorites, boosting Ms. Clinton while attempting to cripple Mr. Sanders’ chance of victory.
The scandal cost Debbie Wasserman Schultz her position as DNC chair, along with her credibility; and it got her booed by never-say-die Sanders supporters who got to say, “We told you so.”
Mr. Sanders’ backers staged a walkout at the convention hall, then walked back in. And Mr. Sanders did what he had to and threw his support to the woman who bested him.
And unlike the Republican convention, convention-goers in Philadelphia composed what former New York mayor David Dinkins once called his city — a “gorgeous mosaic,” reflecting not so much the country’s diversity, but, rather its reality in 2016, which is only going to get “realer” over the coming decades.
Speakers included a physically disabled woman, a transgender woman and other often marginalized Americans.
The inclusiveness was refreshing to see. But give Donald Trump credit: He has tapped into the legitimate sense of marginalization that low-income, working-class and unemployed white Americans feel. This is a group that he owns, and one in which Ms. Clinton must make inroads — without the hateful rhetoric of us vs. them, of course. Similarly, she must reach out to the diehard Sanders supporters, disaffected Republicans and independents who are still scratching their heads over the choices. She enthusiastically invited all of them aboard her campaign Thursday night.
Ms. Clinton has fought and clawed and climbed her way to becoming the first woman ever to become the presidential nominee of a major political party in this country. Thursday, Hillary Clinton delivered. Now comes the hard part.