On Tuesday, after nominating contests went down in five states, the outcome of the Democratic race was finally laid bare: Hillary Clinton is the presumptive Democratic nominee for president. She's now secured an insurmountable lead in pledged delegates and declared herself the winner of the Democratic primary, meaning (if history is any guide) that the superdelegates will not abandon her for Vermont senator Bernie Sanders. But it's important not to forget just how historic this 2016 Democratic primary race was ― we all just watched the first woman and first Jewish presidential contenders ever face off for a major party's presidential nomination.
It's a somewhat overlooked aspect of what the Democratic party has been witnessing for months, especially considering that the Republican National Committee, for a while, was trying to capitalize on the impressive diversity of their own primary field ― the GOP saw two Cuban-Americans, one woman, and one black man in the running this year.
But in the end, how'd it turn out? They all lost to perhaps the loudest, most inflammatory white guy that American politics has ever seen. while the Democratic race all came down to two "firsts" in U.S. history. And while Clinton's role as quite possibly our first female president has understandably gotten a lot of press, it's worth remembering what Sanders' success means, too.
Sanders became the first Jewish person to ever win a presidential primary when he claimed a blowout victory in New Hampshire, and since then he's put together a campaign that's taken him all the way to the doorstep of the Democratic nomination, even though the door got shut on him in the end. Prior to this year, former Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman was the only Jewish politician who'd ever come at all close to the executive branch, when he ran as former vice president Al Gore's running mate in 2000.
While anti-Jewish discrimination and hatred in America doesn't always get as much attention as some other defining tropes of white supremacy like anti-black racism, It's especially significant and symbolic that a Jewish candidate has soared to prominence this year.
Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, after all, has become the preferred candidate of racists and neo-Nazis, many of whom have been engaging in explicitly anti-Semitic harassment and intimidation campaigns across social media. This would have made for perhaps the sharpest moral divide imaginable if Sanders had managed to win. But even as it stands now, it's both a welcome reminder of how far America's come, and an important reminder that violent anti-Jewish hatred remains alive and well.
And as far as Clinton is concerned, well, the contrast also couldn't be any more sharp. Of all the defining characteristics of all the previous 43 presidents, especially after President Obama finally shattered the color barrier in 2008, none are more glaring than the lack of even one woman. This is plainly disgraceful, and it's a sign that the trappings of patriarchal early-to-mid American life haven't eroded quite as much as some might think ― unless you can believe that electing 43 out of 43 male presidents is some kind of innocent coincidence.
And just like Trump's oft-racist online hoards provide a sharp moral contrast against Sanders, so too does his own record and words underscore the gender element against Clinton. Trump has by any measure spent more time, in public settings, saying truly objectionable, sexist, and verbally abusive things about women than any modern presidential candidate the country has ever experienced. And considering the tact he's taken with Clinton since becoming the Republican nominee-in-waiting, the election in November could end up being as much a referendum on insecure misogyny as anything else.
In short, regardless of what happens from here on out, the Democratic Party should feel some pride in the two candidates that rose to the top, and hopefully any tensions left over from the primary season will be healed over next few months. Because when it comes to who the parties were actually willing to trust with their nominations, the Democrats clearly got behind a more diverse and representative vision of America.