A big crack in the glass ceiling

June 09, 2016 12:39 am | Updated November 17, 2021 04:45 am IST

Even before Americans went to the polling booths on Tuesday for a blitzkrieg of primaries across six States, history was in the making. According to a survey by a news agency, Hillary Clinton had already secured more than the minimum of 2,383 delegates necessary to clinch the nomination at the Democratic Party’s convention in Philadelphia. This would make her the first woman to clinch the presidential nomination of a major political party in the U.S., an achievement that comes 96 years after women in the world’s oldest democracy won the right to vote. If the superdelegates backing her stay true to their promise to support her at the convention, then Ms. Clinton will have finally won the bid to be on the ballot as a presidential candidate, eight years after she first gave it a shot. Of course, to occupy the White House, she will first have to ward off a stiff attack from presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, the fire-breathing property billionaire. At the moment Ms. Clinton’s strong delegate count puts in the shadow her only Democratic rival — the self-declared socialist Bernie Sanders. Yet regardless of what Mr. Sanders does going forward, he will be recognised for consistently tilting the hateful discourse of this election year towards a more humane, less bigoted idiom and fighting unapologetically against economic inequality and the influence of special interests.

Among the challenges Ms. Clinton faces is the need to win, before November, the hearts and minds of Mr. Sanders’ supporters, who are disenchanted with a policy that is seen as favouring the super-rich. Her credentials as former Secretary of State, First Lady and a well-connected Washington insider place her in stark contrast to Mr. Sanders. She will have to travel many miles to persuade the young, liberal millennial cohort that supports him, convincing them she has the quintessentially Democratic value of batting for the middle class through publicly provided safety nets. Then there is the other persona that she has to contend with: Mr. Trump. Despite vicious verbal attacks on minorities, including Muslims, Mexicans and the differently abled, women and the media, he has soared from strength to strength on the back of astonishing support from a socially insecure Middle America. Ms. Clinton’s much stronger lead in nationwide opinion polls in previous months has shrunk to a mere two-point average across seven major polls. If she is to ultimately become “Madam President”, she will have to step deftly through a quagmire of troubling questions surrounding the 2012 Benghazi attack, her use of a private email server while serving as Secretary, and her ties to Wall Street finance.

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