On Tuesday, Jul. 26, 2016, history was made in United States politics. It was on the second of four days at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, held in the City of Brotherly Love, that Hillary Clinton became the first woman to accept a major party's nomination for president of the United States.
The announcement was made during the DNC on live television as R&B pop star Alicia Keys performed. The musician then introduced Hillary Clinton, who appeared via video from New York to deliver a message to her the thousands gathered at the Wells Fargo Center:
“What an incredible honor you have given me and I can’t believe we just put the biggest crack in that glass ceiling yet. [...] And if there are any little girls out there who stayed up late to watch, let me just say: I may become the first woman president, but one of you is next.”
It can be argued that Hillary Clinton is the most prominent female political figure, and her resumé — which speaks volumes about her tenacity and her determination to reach the seat at the Oval Office — is impressive. President Barack Obama said it best during his speech on day three of the DNC when he said, “There has never been a man or a woman — not me, not Bill, nobody — more qualified to serve as President of the United States.”
Hillary had stood by her husband, Bill Clinton, through his presidency as first lady from 1993 to 2001. In 2000, she became the first first lady of the United States to be a candidate for elected office when she campaigned for a seat in the New York senate; she was sworn in, and served as U.S. senator for eight years. Then, after coming in second to Barack Obama in a tight race for the Democratic nomination in 2008, she was appointed as Secretary of State in Obama’s cabinet until his second term as President. Now, she’s more hungry than ever for the presidential office, and she’s one election win away from not only reaching her ultimate goal, but also breaking barriers for women in politics.
There are other female politicians in the U.S., like Hillary, who have huge political aspirations and want to serve and improve their communities; and 2016 could be the history-making year for politics, as these women aim to not only be the first female leaders to hold office in the positions they’re running for, but also inspire women across the nation to get politically involved and become leaders of their own.
María Cabrera, Mayoral Candidate for Wilmington, De.
This Puerto Rico native shares a commonality with Hillary Clinton in that they will both be the first women to be elected in the positions they are currently running for, should they win.
“As a woman, I am especially inspired by Hillary Clinton, because she did shatter that glass ceiling by being the first woman nominated from a major party to run for President,” said Cabrera, who is a candidate for mayor for the city of Wilmington, Del. “In Wilmington, after 238 years of being incorporated as a city, the first state of the union, the first and only city has yet to elect a woman to mayor.”
Of the nine mayoral candidates in this race, Cabrera is the only woman running. She believes her mindset as a woman and a mother is an advantage over her opponents.
“Studies show that when women run for office it’s because they see a problem and they want to fix it. That’s how we’re wired. So I would think that as a woman, I bring common sense, I bring that passion, that fire. I bring the maternal instinct of wanting to protect my child and all the children up to the Mayor’s office,” she said.
As a candidate who’s lived in Wilmington for more the two decades — and as one who currently lives in one of the less secure neighborhoods of the city, Cabrera knows what the immediate problems in the communities are.
“Something needs to be done about the guns and gang violence,” she lamented. “No mother should be burying her sons like the mother’s of Wilmington are.”
One of Cabrera’s objective will be to improve the quality of life in Wilmington. She will focus on implementing entrepreneurial workshops for the communities so people can “write their own destiny,” she said.
Cabrera, a cooking enthusiast, became the first Hispanic woman elected to the at-large council seat in the city of Wilmington. As a Latina, she will use her position as mayor to bring about the necessary changes to the Latino community of Wilmington, whom make up almost 10 percent of the city’s population.
“I will serve all people of Wilmington, most importantly. I will also [take the opportunity] to respond to Latino issues.”
The Democratic primary for mayor is set for Sep.13, 2016, and the former Director of Education at The Grand Opera House hopes voters take a progressive approach.
“Wilmington has been electing Mayors for almost 200 years. Yet we've never had a female Mayor. I think it’s time! Don’t you?” said Cabrera in her candidacy announcement speech this past April.
María is optimistic
AL DÍA: Why are you running for Mayor when you can have a nice salary and a corporate job?
María: If you really want to know, the point that has pushed me over the edge was two years ago in May when my son came home from school and he was walking our little dog home and he witnessed three boys breaking into a neighbor’s property. They pointed a gun to his head and said they would shoot him dead if he said anything. The part that I have the hardest time struggling with, is that he believed them. He didn’t say anything to his mother, the Councilwoman. And it wasn’t until two weeks later — until they broke into my own house, same description of the boys — that my son said, “I’m sorry. This is what happened, and this is what I saw.”
AL DÍA: That confirms for me only that running for Mayor is a risky business. Why are you taking the risk?
María: It’s my passion for helping others [...] It is a risky business and some of the things I’m doing in Wilmington are very risky. That’s why I can’t talk about the neighborhoods I go in and how I work with the police and the law department.
AL DÍA: What makes you think that as a Latina you are called to fix this when you would be ‘the least’ prepared? [Latinos] came here from somewhere else. Why a Latina?
María: I don’t feel that I’m an outsider, I’ve lived in Wilmington for 27 years, I came to the mainland when I was 3 years old from San Turce, Puerto Rico. I did not speak the language. I had to learn English by immersion, not through translation. I’ve always been determined. If you tell me I can’t do something I’ll look at you like you’re crazy.
AL DÍA: But this is America. Women for 150 years, haven’t been allowed to vote or hold executive positions as often as they have been in San Juan, Puerto Rico or the rest of Latin America. So why bother?
María: Because one of the things María Cabrera is made of is optimism. I’m one of the most optimistic people I know. I will always look at the glass half full, not half empty. And I think one of the qualities God has given me is that no matter what the person or package, I always am able to look and see the good in people.
AL DÍA: So what is Maria Cabrera’s call to the people?
María: Equality is something that people like to throw around but they don’t really practice what they preach when we talk about equality. We see the distress in our country of the racial inequality. We see that among the Latinos, as much as we see that in the people of color. Language issues, people coming from different countries — a lot of that rhetoric is being discussed now in the presidential race.
AL DÍA: Do you feel the Democratic party takes us [Latinos] seriously enough? Specifically to engage us 100 percent and not 60 percent?
María: I think the people who take us seriously are the people who take the revenues generated for their companies when they invest in Latin America. We’ve seen that in companies like Johnson & Johnson, any of the companies or banks who have invested in Latin America and invested in the Latinos in the U.S. We’ve see their return on the dollar. In politics, if they have invested in the Latino community and took us seriously, we would have more Latino leaders.
AL DÍA: So what as elected, what would you do to help Latinos generate income, generate jobs, and bring taxes to your city?
María: The power of writing your own destiny by becoming an entrepreneur... We need to teach our young people business skills, entrepreneurship skills. And as a city, we need to do a better job of implementing the disadvantaged entrepreneur initiatives in the city. Now we’re giving opportunities to people of mixed races and to women, because these are the people who can write their own destiny.
AL DÍA: You said you are the Mayor for all people. What if we drop the word Hispanic or Latino that the U.S. created for us in 1967 to tag us and classify us and put us on that shelf? Maria Cabrera the woman for all people?
María: Exactly. We have a city that is divided by race and by wealth. There is a tale of two cities in Wilmington which is a very sore subject in this Mayor’s race because one of the men running is a businessman, and he is very accomplished and he speaks of all his accomplishments. While we were building a new city, instead of developing the old one — and I’m not opposed to developing a new city — we did not include, or economically revitalize the people in the city. So when we talk about public safety being the number one issue in Wilmington, the number one issue is the lack of economic development. And I am a Mayor for all people because I represent those people. And you know what? [...] I’m neither black nor white but I have both bloods inside me. So I am the true person who can unite the city.
Katie McGinty, Candidate for United Senator of Pa.
Kathleen McGinty, an Irish Catholic, was a former environmental advisor to President Bill Clinton. The Philadelphia native recently dropped her position as Chief of Staff to the Gov. Tom Wolf to run for a seat in the U.S. Senate. McGinty, who attended from St. Joseph’s University for her undergrad, is seeking to dethrone her Republican opponent, Pat Toomey, who’s had the position since 2011.
A victory for McGinty means that Pennsylvania will be sending its first woman to the U.S. Senate.
The Democratic Senate candidate supports gay marriage, stricter gun laws, and Obamacare. She is also pro-choice. During her campaign, she has been vocal about paid family leave and a $15 federal minimum wage.
It’s been a indecisive Senate race between McGinty and the incumbent, Senator Toomey. The mother of three’s high-profile speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention this past July gave her narrow lead in polls, however. An endorsement from Gov. Tom Wolf, former Gov. Ed Rendell, and President Barack Obama has also helped her campaign.
McGinty, Pat Toomey, and Independent candidate Everett Stern will face each other in the general election on Nov. 8, 2016.
Demanding a Seat at the Table
When watching Maria Cabrera speak, it’s hard to miss the passion and energy she brings to the table. It is that passion and energy that propelled her to not only run for city council, but for Mayor as well. It is this passion that must be employed when any woman is running for elected office. Having to endure claims from peers and the public alike of being “too bossy,” “unhinged,” and even “too hormonal.”
But it is this particular tenacity that must be shown not only when running for office but also in corporate America, from Lean In by Nell Scovell and Sheryl Sandberg to Girl Boss by Sophia Amoruso, there are countless guides dedicated to women, teaching them how to demand “their seat at the table.”
But as women continue to graduate college at higher rate, and thus dominate the white collar workforce, the skills needed to function in a male-dominated sector, especially in male-dominated industries, are hard to learn and the backlash is harder to endure.
But for the women of the future — those like Hillary Clinton, Katie McGinty, and Maria Cabrera — continue to be a source of inspiration.
This assertiveness need not be the overt aggression seen in the past. Studies have shown that women have adept problem-solving skills which are typically needed to nurture and care for families and children.
These skills not only aid in producing greater safety but also a more egalitarian running of the workplace, as well as political offices. With a more equal foot in the race, people of all backgrounds, regardless of race, gender, class, or sexual orientation can have their force heard.
As the three women on the cover page run for office, they serve as a guide to people across the board, across the boundaries of race, gender, class or sexual orientation. The diversity represented in the women running is not only impressive but also significantly more identifiable than their male counterparts. This representation seems counter to the white male dominated legislative offices on both city, state, and federal levels.
With this diversity, it’s easy to look toward a future in which all are represented and empowered to be the voices their communities need for service and change.
Maria Cabrera believes if we takes ownership of the communities we live in and aim to make change is the only way our communities will not be forgotten, as she indicated in her interview with AL DÍA. It is the drive and dedication to our neighborhoods, cities and countries that can drive us to demand our voice be heard at any table and any community across the world.