EDITORIAL: Historic moment for women

York Dispatch
  • An unprecedented election season is highlighted by this week's historic event.
  • Hillary Clinton has made history by being the first woman nominated for president by a major party.
  • Young girls and women can now add "president" to their list of life goals.

In such a polarized and contentious election season – and with two candidates who clearly elicit strong feelings one way or the other in most Americans – it’s appropriate to stop for a moment and tip our hats to history in the making.

Jerry Emmett, 102, of Prescott, Ariz., right, talks to Sruthi Palaniappan, 18-year-old Iowa delegate, at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Wednesday, July 27, 2016. Emmett was born before women gained the right to vote in America, so it's fitting she announced that the Arizona delegation was casting 51 of its 85 votes for Hillary Clinton for president on Tuesday. (Nick Oza/The Arizona Republic via AP)

"We just put the biggest crack in that glass ceiling yet," Hillary Clinton declared as she made a surprise appearance on video surrounded by young women and girls at Tuesday night's end, to the roar of delegates.

"This is really your victory," she said, predicting that many more women will be nominated for president – and elected.

Clinton's long political resume — secretary of state, senator, first lady — has sometimes obscured the historic nature of her candidacy. Her supporters noted that Clinton's achievement came nearly a century after women gained the right to vote in 1920.

Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski nominated Clinton, saying she was acting on behalf of "all women who have broken down barriers for others." Mikulski was the first Democratic woman to be elected to the Senate in her own right.

Speakers on Clinton’s behalf Tuesday night included Geneva Reed-Veal, Lucia McBath and Sybrina Fulton, representing eight African-American women who lost children to violence, some of them at the hands of police officers.

Supporters of Hillary Clinton hold signs during the third day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia , Wednesday, July 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

“I am here with Hillary Clinton tonight because she is a leader and a mother who will say our children’s names,” said Reed-Veal, one of the “Mothers of the Movement,” a group organized at Ms. Clinton’s urging earlier this year.

Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, later told the audience, “This election isn’t about electing the first woman president. It’s about electing this woman president.”

These issues are vital to women. And although the Clinton campaign has had a relatively deft touch when it comes to touting the fact, as Hillary Clinton prepares to accept her party’s nomination tonight, and with the DNC formally nominating her on Tuesday, a historic moment is indeed at hand.

BLOG: Hillary's nomination hits home for local delegates

What is vital is that we grown-ups who are vehemently arguing our positions on social media stop for a moment and recognize that for all of the little girls and young women in our lives, the nomination of a woman to lead a major party’s ticket in an election means this is now possible for them.

The potential for young women to follow a path of public service directly to the White House shouldn’t get lost in the cacophony of political rhetoric.

It’s bigger than one candidate or one party. It’s bigger than speeches and sound bites. And for women – once formally and long informally – excluded from dreaming about, much less becoming the leader of the free world, it’s a bit surreal.

And long overdue.