9 Grounded Parents React to Hillary Clinton’s Acceptance Speech
While Grounded Parents does not endorse a specific political candidate or party, some of us had reactions to the speech Hillary Clinton gave at the Democratic National Committee that we wanted to share. The views expressed are those of the individual bloggers and not necessarily the blog as a whole.
My first real memory of presidential politics is being in first grade and there not being enough ballots for the Scholastic News polling to go around. I am made to “share” a ballot with another kid, who happens to be named Jimmy, and therefore, he is voting for Jimmy Carter and it doesn’t matter what I want. In retrospect, I should have been all in on that decision, but I have a vague sense, which may or may not be accurate, that my mom actually supports John Anderson, an Independent from our state, and that’s who I want to vote for (I’m 6, give me a break).
From then on, I have pretty vivid memories of presidential elections. Geraldine Ferraro was my hero. I wanted to be her when I grew up. I remember going into the red and white striped voting booth with my mother on multiple occasions. And I remember voting for the first time in 1992, via absentee ballot in my freshman dorm room, shaking as I punched the little holes with the tiny metal pin, into my ballot and a wee piece of styrofoam, voting not just for Bill Clinton with his political lightning rod of a wife, but for Carol Mosley Braun, the first and only African American woman to serve in the Senate.
I would have thought that I would have cried more last night, when I managed to somehow catch the entirety of Hillary Clinton’s speech accepting the nomination as the Democratic candidate for President of the United States. This is not to say that I didn’t get a bit teary and emotional, but mostly I felt proud and elated and I thrilled in the shear passion and even joy that she showed as she, too, realized that this was finally happening.
My 13-minus-2-days year old didn’t quite get why this was so important to me. He understood that it was a historical moment, something he might later recount in a dozen or more years if he becomes the high school history teacher he talks about being now. But he is so used to seeing women in relative positions of power. I am a lawyer who has worked for other women his entire life. His grandmother is a senior executive at a multi-national corporation. His other grandmother, who has been retired his entire life, was an educational professional.
He doesn’t have that perspective of being a 10 year old girl and thrilling at the first woman to be brought into a major party ticket, only to hear the comments about how no one could vote for Mondale now, because a woman would be a heartbeat away from the presidency and that’s a man’s job. He doesn’t have that sense of being told he can do anything…except be the most powerful person in the world. Trust me, he gets now why mom was moist eyed (I did cry a little, just not the wracking sobs that will likely come in November no matter what happens) and cranky that he kept interrupting and being snarky.
After he was asleep last night I slipped into my daughter’s room and just sat there for a minute taking in the fact that she can take for granted the idea that she can run for president. We watched Our Fight Song about 15 times last night before bed (she particularly loved Sia’s “Go Hillary” at the end) and frankly she is kind of ready for politics to take a back seat to My Little Pony again for a while. I kissed her arm, and breathed her in and thought about my grandmothers and my children’s grandmothers and all of the people who have dreamed of being something they have never been able to see for themselves.
And then I went to sleep with moist eyes and a heart full of hope for all of us.
I have been following the DNC as much as anyone can from three time zones away with twin 3-year-olds. I watch the speeches on Youtube while everyone sleeps, and my kids and I sing along to the Fight Song on endless repeat. Their version involves yelling “hey” with a fist pump at each pause (try it; it works). So, I felt lucky to be able to listen to Hillary Clinton’s speech live.
I was in the car with my mother and sons. The boys were singing when my mom asked them to be a little quieter so we could hear. “Why?” asked one son. “Because the next president is talking,” she said “This is very important.”
“What’s a president?” asked my other son.
We explained, and while doing so it hit me: by the time my children are old enough to fully understand what a president is, it will be an accepted norm that women can run for the highest office with a chance of winning.
Much has changed because of pivotal moments like last night–moments that shift the world and make it normal for things to exist that seemed impossible before. I looked at my mom and thought about how much had changed during her lifetime, and how she had supported that change in our family and our community.
Our family shifted away from the normal of my mother’s childhood: where being from a large poor family meant college was unthinkable, health care was rare, and food insecurity was normal. She was pivotal in shifting away from this for the next generation by attending college and supporting us while we did so, ensuring we had insurance and making sure we felt no insecurity about our living situation, food, or safety. Our family’s idea of what was normal shifted because of her generation’s work and the way the world changed around us.
We still have a long way to go, though. The fact that many Americans support a person whose policies center around isolationism, fear, and derision for people of color, immigrants, women, intellectuals, people with disabilities and the poor vividly shows that change could also come in the form of a giant step backward for families like mine. The misogyny that has surfaced this campaign is evidence of a much larger problem that I hope my children will never think is acceptable. But the shift surrounding a woman’s nomination to president leaves me hopeful, and her speech left me in tears.
The world shifted as we listened to Hillary Clinton accept the nomination. It will shift again if she wins to one in which my 3-year-olds see a woman leading the United States as no big deal. The way in which this shift immediately makes the unthinkable mundane is what makes it groundbreaking. We do not often get to be there when a single incident completely shifts what is normal. Listening to the first female presidential nominee of a major political party speak was one of those moments, and it was a treat to be able to share it with our previous generation and the next one.
I managed to sleep through it, parental reasons.
My 5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son were fast asleep by the time Hillary took the DNC stage for her acceptance speech. The next morning, as I poured glasses of milk, I asked them, “Have you ever cried because you were so happy?” Oblivious and nonchalant, my son kept eating cereal, while my daughter, eyes wide, wanted to know more. “What, mommy? How can you cry because you’re happy?”
Whether or not you’re with her, the weight of the moment was undeniable. As cheesy as it sounds, tears streamed down my cheeks as Hillary shared the journey leading to “standing here as my mother’s daughter, and my daughter’s mother, I’m so happy this day has come. Happy for grandmothers and little girls and everyone in between.” My heart swelled with pride and hope.
As the daughter of immigrants, I am thankful everyday that I was born in America. As I watched Hillary speak, I knew that many were disillusioned, especially the Bernie or Busters. But I wondered, as a woman whose existence on this soil would have never happened if the Trumps of the world had their way, as a mother of children with the brown skin that his followers hate and fear, as I listened to the love and togetherness Hillary expressed, how anyone could believe that there is no difference between Clinton and Trump?
As a mother of a girl and a boy, my heart swelled when she said she’s “happy for boys and men, too.” The next morning, as I looked at my little ones, living with privilege upon privilege they don’t understand though we always remind them how lucky they are, I was cautiously hopeful. Because rather than having to tell them, like so many parents in the generations leading to this moment, “Someday a woman or a person of color can be president,” the speech I saw the night before ushered in the possibility, the hope that the foundations of their worldviews will be shaped by their first two presidents actually being a person of color and a woman.
For me, Hillary’s historical speech was not about policy, though I’ve seen the criticisms that her address was light on issues and heavy on emotions. This was not the night for that. There is plenty of time for Hillary to make her stances clear (and though I agree with most of her policy stances, I do disagree on a few). When something this Earth-shattering happens, it’s about the power of the moment. And oh, was that moment powerful.
When Hillary gave her acceptance speech, I was over the moon, walking on air, had to pull out every long retired cliché, but my family was just sort of ‘meh?’ They are terrified at the prospect of the quasi-sentient Cheeto (although Cheetos are safer) becoming President, and they understood to an extent why I was so happy, but they just can’t empathize or get excited, and it’s left me feeling a bit lonely.
For me it’s not only that Clinton is the first woman to be a serious nominee, it’s that she is an older woman who has worked her ass off for decades against absolutely everything that women regularly face, and she has persevered. When I was on the safety patrol in elementary school, I could only be sergeant, even though I got more votes, because only boys could be captain (more trustworthy). When I was in high school, and was ‘the responsible one’ and ‘the hard-working one’ I saw the boys elected to student council (they were more fun). And when the boy next to me in English class (who wanted to copy my homework) told me that a woman would never be president because she might ‘go crazy and push the red button every month’, I argued that the US would elect a woman, just not in my lifetime.
Offspring understands the male-privilege aspect, but not the issues of just how much time and stupidly hard work are expected from women, but then are simultaneously devalued and even denigrated. Spouse understands male-privilege to an extent, but hasn’t experienced the real depths of misogyny. So there’s nobody to join me in my amazement, disbelief, and absolute joy that MY NOMINEE IS A HARDWORKING, STRONG, OLDER WOMAN!! (Oh dear, did I just shout and draw attention to myself?!)
I had Hipster Teen with me all last week and was surprised to find they were just as interested in watching the DNC and all the amazing speeches (and the many many ways that The Other Candidate was dragged and burned and had shade thrown at him in ever so many eloquent ways.) We were driving home from HT’s very first 5k when Hillary was giving her speech. While I was sorry I didn’t get to see it delivered in full, I loved what she said. I loved the inclusivity of mentioning boys and girls, since a rising tide raises all boats. I feel fortunate that I am living in such an amazing time, where there is a real possibility of having a woman president, and how much that might change everything.
I am trying not to be cynical, because I really had a lot of hope that Obama would bring more change than he did, but that wasn’t really his fault. And I really supported Bernie. But I am excited at the prospect of the platform that he and Hillary spoke about.
I hope that having Hillary as president will bring about a better future than the one I am so fearful Hipster Teen will end up having.
When Hillary knocked it out of the park, what I mostly felt was relief, because it felt like everything was riding on this speech and we were asking so much of her. She had to hit all the right notes and show just the right amount of emotion. She needed to make a few jabs at Trump without being too negative. She had to sound like a leader without sounding too aggressive. Smile but command the stage. Mention specifics without getting lost in the weeds. Be funny but still be appropriate. And don’t forget to be personable! Could she really hit every note she needed to hit? Well, somehow she did and it was pretty fantastic. She seemed present and engaged with the audience at every point of the speech. It was really incredible and impressive and everything I was hoping it would be.
My son and stepdaughters live in Canada, so I get an interestingly filtered interpretation of things from them. Overall they’re appalled by the vitriol and divisiveness of certain candidates, and can’t seem to grasp how and why things have gotten so nasty. But that’s a story for another day.
I didn’t expect a lot from Clinton’s speech* or the Convention as a whole, but was impressed in the end. Then during a weekend conversation, I had a thought. It’s not fully formed, and I’m still mulling whether it’s an artifact of my own view of the world**, but here it is: it seems like the DNC as a whole has suddenly started to truly and deeply comprehend the idea of inclusivity. They’re not perfect, but things like officials tweeting pictures of their diverse staff, or putting a muslim couple on the podium, or openly acknowledging that racism is killing people seem to be a pointed departure from previous years. Previously they gave lip service to inclusivity, and made a few passing efforts to garner votes, but it just never felt like it was a core value of the party. Even with the election of Obama, something just didn’t seem to have fully clicked.
Here’s hoping it’s true, or that I’ve just been naive and missed it previously. I’ve started telling myself that if this inclusivity is one bright point that comes from the shit-show that is Trump and the RNC right now, then maybe…just maybe…some of the hell might be worthwhile. If we come out of this crucible with a party that truly and deeply comprehends how diversity is a strength, perhaps we’ll look back and say that this was the moment when things started to change for the better.
*I’m trying to exclusively use either the last name or full initials for both candidates; has anyone else noticed a general tendency in the media to refer to HRC by her given name, whereas male candidates are referred to by their family name?
**I’ll readily admit that I win just about every point on the privilege bingo board. So it’s entirely possible that the change is inside my head instead of the DNC as a whole.
Watching Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech was very emotional for me. Not just because I wanted her to win the primary or because I am pregnant and literally cry at AARP commercials. I truly believe that her nomination is not just historic in a “it’s never happened before” sense, but historic in a “now we can start working towards real equality” sense. Anyone who follows me here knows that I’ve been with her since Hillary announced her intent to run. I’ve been unfriended, harassed, accused of “voting with my vagina,” and called a shill (you would think I would receive more checks). It’s all been worth it.
During her speech it dawned on me that she is one of the first woman leaders who doesn’t apologize for being a woman or mother. She celebrates it – realizing that it gives her a unique perspective and skill set that make her a better leader – a mother who can help raise our country to new heights. As I heard her speak, about being a mother and a leader, about our children and our future, about us working together to raise our families and our country, and to ensure equality and opportunity for all, I thought about the laminated placemats on our kitchen table. We have four: dinosaurs, U.S. states, the solar system, and U.S. Presidents. A few weeks ago, my daughter asked why there were no women on the U.S. Presidents’ mat. As I was listening to the glass ceiling shatter, I left her a surprise. I am not very good at art, but I think she loved my addition.
Image for this post is a screen shot from Clinton’s speech on Youtube.