Hillary Clinton’s acceptance of the Democratic nomination for president last week sent a message that traveled far beyond the convention hall in Philadelphia.
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It was a story told in hundreds of tweets from mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, aunts and uncles, and those who make up a larger American family. So many beautiful tweets that showed a daughter watching television at the moment Clinton walked on stage.
One second, one idea, one moment, that said so much about what’s possible.
A tweet from Margo Gray (Osage): “@HillaryClinton you accepted and my Granddaughter said take a pic and post it to her.” That she did.
It was like that across my twitter feed. Many fathers in tears, crying about what their daughters might do. It meant so much, so many said, to see their daughter’s face and excitement for the first female presidential nominee.
“When there are no ceilings, the sky’s the limit,” Clinton said. A line we all knew to be true.
As the tweets rolled past: I thought about Wilma Mankiller. She was fond about telling a story about the first treaty negotiations between the Cherokee Tribe and the United States. One of the first questions: “Where are your women?”
Mankiller said it was common for Cherokee women to be included in ceremonies and it was inconceivable that the United States would come to pass a negotiation alone. How can you bargain anything with only half your people or half a way of thinking?
“Where are your women?” That question has a new meaning when 14 United States senators told their stories at the convention. One of those women, Sen. Barbara Mikulski,was the first woman elected to the Senate. That was only 1986.
The story of women in Congress parallels that of Native Americans running for and winning office across the country. First one person wins, then another, then another, and so on. “Where are your women?” is a question with a different answer every election. In state legislatures, Congress, and soon, possibly, the White House. Where are your women? Running governments.
A young man once asked Mankiller what he should call her. She was then principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, and twice elected as the leader of some 200,000 people. But this young man was uncomfortable with what he called a “male” term. “Should we address you as chieftainess?” he asked. Mankiller didn’t say a word. Then, after hearing the suggestion “chief ette,” she responded. “I told him to call me `Ms.-Chief’ or `misChief.’ ”
And so it goes for a would-be Madame President. Her acceptance speech included plenty of policy — and that will be the subject of many commentaries going forward. But first, we need to think about the barrier that was lifted because so much mischief possible in a world without ceilings.
I am Mark Trahant.
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