I thought Senator Clinton’s concession speech today was simply amazing. It was the right mix of history, reality, idealism, and the future. I was really impressed with her ability to move her supporters in the audience from being specifically her supporters to being Democrats and then to being Obama supporters. I think he still has a lot to do to woo some of her supporters to her side and his decisions in the next month or so will do a lot to either bridge the distance between himself and some of these voters or expand the gulf. I’ll definitely vote for him in the fall regardless, but my wallet is closed until I see who he’s putting on the ticket as vice president.
But the moment that moved me the most in Senator Clinton’s speech was the one in which she included gays and lesbians.
It was a great moment, one that I hope ultimately reminds some Democrats of what the Clintons tried to do for GLBT people during the early days of their administration. They were the first to reserve a place for us at the grownups’ table and not just with the kids.
I hope that Senator Clinton’s inclusion of gays and lesbians in speech will serve as a model for other Democrats. While things have gotten significantly better for gays and lesbians in the past twenty years — in part because of the Clintons’ willingness to embrace us publicly when President Clinton was first elected — there are still too many people who exclude and marginalize us, who don’t really include as full participants in American politics, life, and culture.
My own colleagues, who I know are not at all homophobic, all too often see lesbian and gay work, people, and literature as less than, as just a special topic, or as marginal to mainstream literature. I don’t think they understand how their vision of GLBT Studies is so heterosexist and prejudiced.
This week has particularly been a depressing one for me in this regard, so hearing Senator Clinton’s words today were really special. I’m proud to say that I voted for her in the Ohio primary and I’m excited to see what she will do next. I just hope Senator Obama has the good sense to use her to her fullest potential. If he really wants to change Washington, he can’t just dispose of the past, as some of his followers seem to want; rather, he must convince his current colleagues, including people like Senator Clinton, that his vision is the way to go. If he can speak to Hillary and say, “We can do this together,” then I think it’s going to be a remarkable and inspiring campaign — one that’s historic not just because the first African American candidate will be the next president but also because Senator Obama will have really succeeded in changing the way we do politics in America. I hope he does it and I hope he does it in partnership with a truly great American, Hillary Clinton.
It is a speech like this one that makes me proud to be a Democrat.