History was made this week at the Democratic National Convention when Hillary Clinton became the first female to be declared a presidential nominee by a major American political party.
“We just put the biggest crack in that glass ceiling yet,” Clinton said via video Tuesday night at the end of the second day of the DNC.
Clinton’s long political resume, including secretary of state, senator and first lady, has broken barriers for women but being called a presidential nominee is her largest one yet. If elected in the Nov. 8 general election, she’ll be the first person to hear the words “Madame President.”
Local historian Rhonda Chalfant said that while some European countries have already placed women in charge, America has been “a little slow,” although she said the country has come quite far from where it stood almost 100 years ago when women gained the right to vote in 1920.
“The fact that women are finally recognized as having enough of a political voice to hold office,” she said. “It’s a very positive thing and I do hope that the election will be decided on the issues, rather than on gender and personality.”
Pettis County Public Administrator Charli Ackerman is one of only two Democrats to hold county office in Pettis County and is the only female Democrat. She said Clinton is paving the way for other females and to further equal rights for women.
“This is significant for all men and women, children,” she said. “Having a woman potentially to be in the highest office there is in the United States should help people realize we’re all equal and gender doesn’t matter and shouldn’t matter. It’s the qualifications and the education that’s important and significant.”
It’s hard to tell if Clinton’s historic nomination will have an impact on Missouri voters, as former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders won Missouri’s presidential preference primary in March. Pettis County Clerk Nick La Strada said on average, more women than men vote in Pettis County each election. La Strada, a Republican, said having Clinton as a nominee “regardless of party is a huge historic moment for our country.”
“The whole thing in perspective is an exciting thing,” he said. “People get very excited when it comes to presidential elections because it’s notoriously known as the highest office you can take in our country. With having other varieties out there that are candidates, having a woman is a huge deal. We’re making leaps and bounds in history with voting for women. There was a time when women were not allowed to vote, so it’s making history for sure. If you asked someone 100 years ago if we’d ever have a female president, the answer would’ve been no.”
Recent elections have had significant candidates, not just Clinton. In 2008, President Barack Obama was elected the first African-American president, and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has never held public office.
As both an election authority and a proud father of two young daughters, La Strada said it’s good to see that everyone has the opportunity to be treated equally, regardless of race, gender or religion.
“There’s a lot of things that will be historic, and I’m very excited to be part of it,” La Strada said. “(The clerk’s) office, this is a huge moment to be part of and we are part of the democracy process. It’s exciting. The political awareness is in the air.”
Ackerman agreed it’s exciting to be part of the 2016 election.
“I think seeing the history, being alive and being in this time and place and witnessing the history that is being made is just so exciting,” Ackerman said.
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or @NicoleRCooke.