When state Rep. Beth Bernstein was a child, most girls in her classes didn’t talk about growing up and running for public office.
That was for the boys.
Now, when the Richland County Democrat visits elementary schools, more and more girls say they want to be president one day.
Those dreams seem a little more attainable now after Hillary Clinton Tuesday became the first woman to clinch the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party.
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“The glass ceiling has broken,” Bernstein said.
The glass ceiling has broken.”
State Rep. Beth Bernstein, D-Richland
Some of South Carolina’s most prominent women in politics say Clinton’s victory carries enormous significance.
Seeing Clinton, arms outstretched and beaming, as she soaked in her critical primary wins Tuesday was uplifting for women currently in public office and could be inspiring to others, thinking of getting involved in the political process, they say.
“Anytime you have someone who blazes that type of trail, it just has a monumental impact,” said state Rep. Mia McLeod, D-Richland. “Her journey is going to inspire other women, young women and girls to take a similar path.
“Whether you agree with her politics or not, I think that is something we can all celebrate.”
Her journey is going to inspire other women, young women and girls to take a similar path. Whether you agree with her politics or not, I think that is something we can all celebrate.”
State Rep. Mia McLeod, D-Richland
McLeod is running this year for a seat in the 46-member state Senate, which currently includes only two women. She said she was enveloped in an “overwhelming feeling of pride and joy” as Clinton clinched the nomination, and added the moment was long overdue.
State Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg, said the United States is about 50 years behind the rest of the world in electing women, though she said she was proud to see the Democratic Party nominate the first woman for president as well as the first African-American.
“We’re way behind the times in America,” Cobb-Hunter said. “And we think we’re so enlightened here.”
Former S.C. Superintendent of Education Inez Tenenbaum pointed out Indira Gandhi was prime minister of India from 1966 until 1984, Margaret Thatcher was Britain’s prime minister from 1979 to 1990 and Angela Merkel has been Germany’s chancellor since 2005.
“It is pretty amazing that a country as progressive as the United States has taken this long,” Tenenbaum said.
It is pretty amazing that a country as progressive as the United States has taken this long.”
Former S.C. schools chief Inez Tenenbaum
Even in 2016, she said, it required someone with Clinton’s thick skin and determination.
“Very few women have the perseverance, courage and tenacity of Hillary Clinton,” said Tenenbaum, who chaired the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission under President Barack Obama. “She’s worked for years to get where she is today, and with great opposition and with endless attacks upon her and her husband.”
Clinton’s nomination was a huge step, but the country still has room to progress, some say.
Cobb-Hunter said the Democratic Party needs to work harder to elect more women and African-Americans in the South. McLeod said the fights to raise the minimum wage and to ensure women receive equal pay aren’t over.
“Now that we’ve reached this milestone, I’m just reminded of other hurdles that we still have to climb,” McLeod said. “We’re not at the end of that journey.”
Now that we’ve reached this milestone, I’m just reminded of other hurdles that we still have to climb. We’re not at the end of that journey.”
No love for Trump. U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham has made national headlines over Donald Trump – again. The Republican from Seneca labeled as “un-American” Tuesday the presumptive GOP presidential nominee’s criticism of a judge with Mexican heritage.
Graham said the moment provided an “off ramp” for Republicans second-guessing their support of the real estate mogul’s candidacy. Graham’s comments – plus his longstanding opposition to Trump – earned him points with S.C. Democrats. Graham was unscathed in S.C. Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison’s diatribe last week against S.C. Republicans who support Trump.
New prayer leader. State Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Berkeley, said last week that he has been named the first chairman of the recently founded S.C. Legislative Prayer Caucus. Dozens of lawmakers, most Republicans, from both houses make up the caucus, launched in January with a commitment to prayer and protecting religious liberty.