Philadelphia (US), July 27 (IANS) Hillary Clinton wrestled her way into history on Tuesday becoming the first woman to be nominated by a major political party for the President of the United States and was hailed by her husband, former President Bill Clinton, as “the best darn change-maker I ever met”.
Her insurgent rival in the Democratic Party, Bernie Sanders, put a dramatic end to a fractious campaign by personally having her nominated unanimously by acclamation at the party convention here.
Hillary came on a video link to thank the Democratic convention delegates and said, “I can’t believe we just put the biggest crack in the glass ceiling yet.”
If she is elected in November, she will join Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh as women leading major nations — 50 years after a woman, Indira Gandhi, became India’s Prime Minister.
Her nomination came 24 years after her husband’s and eight years after her first bid. In 2008 she was thought to have an easy road to the White House, but President Barack Obama emerged virtually out of nowhere to walk away with the nomination and eventually made history by becoming the first African-American to win the presidency.
The convention that started on Monday in disarray with the party chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz having resigned over the weekend after a leak of internal emails showed the leadership undermining Sanders, and his supporters trying to disrupt the meeting, hit a high note on Tuesday by the time Bill Clinton spoke. The boos and jeers of Sanders’ supporters faded away and the popular President was greeted with a standing ovation.
In a sentimental speech that began with being drawn by her magnetism when he first saw Hillary at Yale University in 1971, Bill Clinton traced their courtship and their life that took them once to the White House and her, afterwards, to the Senate and the State Department. “We have been through good times and bad, through joy and heartbreak,” he said.
Bill Clinton spoke of the two rejections he received when he proposed marriage to her and the third time he got lucky when she accepted him after he had bought a house she had fancied. He recounted her career as an activist for the causes of children and for civil rights and her eventual rise to Secretary of State. She is trusted and respected by world leaders, he added.
“Knowing her is one of the greatest gifts she ever gave me,” he said.
In keeping with the tradition of the nominee not coming on stage till the last day of the convention, Hillary Clinton spoke by a video link. “If there are any little girls out there who stayed up late to watch, let me just say I may become the first woman President but one of you is next,” she said.
When the voting results of all the states and territories were announced, Sanders asked to suspend the process and nominate her by acclamation without counting the delegate votes. The convention immediately approved the nomination with loud cheers.
However, some of his supporters persisted in opposing Clinton and shouted their opposition.
The formal nominating session began with Tulsi Gabbard, the first and only Hindu to be elected to Congress, invoking Mahatma Gandhi to formally nominate Sanders, the progressive with broad appeal.
Gabbard spoke of the revolutionary changes Sanders brought to the political discourse with his progressive, anti-establishment agenda, and said the movement would continue. She quoted Mahatma Gandhi, “A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.”
“We will fight for the change we need and we will never forget our leader,” she said.
Gabbard resigned as the Vice Chair of the Democratic Party in February to openly work for the election of Sanders.
In the November election, Hillary Clinton will be locked in a nasty race with Republican Party’s Donald Trump, who has been accused of being anti-woman.
He loomed as an ominous presence at the Convention as speaker after speaker hit out at his opposition to abortion rights and maternity benefits, his unabashedly sexist remarks about women, and what they asserted were his extremely negative statements about immigrants and Muslims.
Trump and the Clintons, though, were once friends as fixtures on New York’s social scene. They even attended Trump’s third wedding to Slovenian immigrant Melania. But once he began running for President, Trump has unleashed a torrent of vitriol against Clinton whom he now calls “Crooked Hillary”.
Earlier as the counting of delegate votes from states and territories was underway, a young Indian woman, Sruthi Palaniappan introduced Iowa’s vote announcement. India West newspaper reported that Palaniappan, an 18-year-old high school student, is the youngest Indian American delegate at the Convention. Her father, Palaniappan Andiappan, is a member of the Convention’s credentials committee, the newspaper said.
Sanders won the majority only in 11 states and territories although he polled 12 million votes to Clinton’s 15.8 million in the primaries and caucuses.
His state, Vermont, passed on its alphabetical turn to announce its vote and after all the states had announced theirs, its leaders took their turn and announced a majority for him. Sanders then dramatically asked to suspend the vote and nominate Clinton by acclamation.
But the party still has to get all his supporters on board as some have persisted in opposing the Clinton nomination. Despite calls for unity from Sanders, his diehard supporters held up a banner predicting a defeat for the party because it rejected Sanders.
(Arul Louis can be reached at the Democratic Party Convention in Philadelphia at email@example.com)