PHILADELPHIA — It is such a big deal to have a real shot of electing a woman as president of the United States.
The video that played near the end of the Democratic convention session on Tuesday showed the faces of the 44 presidents of the United States flying by. The pictures were of 44 men — all white, except for Barack Obama.
Then, to the sound of breaking glass, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton burst on the screen.
When Clinton formally ended her Democratic primary bid on June 8, 2008, after Obama beat her, she said, “although we weren’t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it’s got about 18 million cracks in it, and the light is shining through like never before, filling us all with the hope and the sure knowledge that the path will be a little easier next time.”
Next time is now.
In my lifetime, there have been a smattering of female firsts, with fewer seconds. Progress is slow. In all the years I’ve worked at the Chicago Sun-Times there have been only three female editors in the very top ranks.
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In 1992, the so-called “year of the woman” congressional election, there were two female senators and 33 women in the House. In 2016, there are 20 female senators and 104 women in the House.
One female Chicago mayor. One female Illinois senator. One elected female Cook
County Board president.
Better, but still short. It’s just taking such a long time.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan became the first woman in the job, after 40 men, when she was elected in 2003.
“When they went through the roll call of the states, it brought tears to my eyes,” Madigan said. She decided she wanted her daughter Rebecca, 11, to be in the audience when Clinton delivered her acceptance speech.
Madigan’s mom, Shirley, married to Illinois House Speaker and Democratic Party of Illinois Chair Michael Madigan, gave up her credential for her granddaughter, “so she could witness this historic night,” Madigan said.
Rebecca said a female nominee “is amazing and something most people thought could never happen.”
“So in its own right,” the sixth-grader said, “it’s a miracle.”
Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., said, “I have a 4-year old grand daughter, and that’s what I think of when I think of what’s happening tonight.”
City Hall’s top lobbyist, Anna Valencia, was carrying a “We’re With Her” sign when we talked. Said Valencia, “This is a huge moment.”