We’ve just crossed a historic Rubicon in the most anticlimactic way possible. On Monday night, the Associated Press announced that, due to some new superdelegate commitments, Hillary Clinton has clinched the Democratic nomination. This news pleased no one. Bernie Sanders supporters saw the announcement, on the eve of an important primary day, as evidence that the system is rigged on Clinton’s behalf. The Clinton team worried that the announcement would suppress turnout Tuesday and step on a victory that should have been made manifest at the polls.
For Republicans, the hellish prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency has become slightly more real. For once, our fractious country is united, if only in disappointment.
Nevertheless, what just happened is a big deal. For the first time ever, a major party is nominating a woman for president. After Tuesday, it should be clear that it is doing so not because of seedy backroom negotiations, but because Clinton won the majority of votes and the majority of pledged delegates. (Indeed, as Clinton said in an interview with Rachel Maddow on Monday, it’s been Sanders, behind by every measure, who “seems to be suggesting that superdelegates should overturn the will of the people.”)For the second time in history, the Democratic Party has chosen a presidential candidate who is not a white man. Hillary Clinton, who has been the object of spitting, irrational white-male hatred since she appeared on the national scene a quarter of a century ago, will face off against Trump, the unleashed id of a sullen, crumbling patriarchy. What’s beginning is not just a general-election campaign. It’s going to be a battle royale over race, gender, and identity in America.
In 1999, the late Barbara Olson, who served as chief investigative counsel to one of the House committees that investigated the Clintons in the 1990s, wrote the febrile book titled Hell to Pay: The Unfolding Story of Hillary Rodham Clinton. “Hillary Clinton is a determined, focused leader who rapidly rose to the top ranks of the radical left, and who now seeks to foment revolutionary changes from the uniform of a pink suit,” Olson warned. She was a crazy person, but Clinton has indeed now brought one revolutionary change. Let’s hope it’s not the last.