Hillary Clinton's Appeal to History and Unity

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

On what’s effectively the last night of the 2016 primary, Hillary Clinton clinched the Democratic nomination Tuesday, becoming the first woman to win a major party nomination. The Politics & Policy crew liveblogged the whole thing, and here’s part of my recap:

A triumphant Hillary Clinton laid claim to the Democratic nomination Tuesday night, making a pitch for unity and celebrating her historic status as the first woman to be a major party’s presidential candidate.

“We are all standing under a glass ceiling right now—but don’t worry, we’re not smashing this one,” she said in Brooklyn. “Thanks to you we’ve reached a milestone .... Tonight’s victory is not about one person. It belongs to generations of women and men who struggled and sacrificed and made this moment possible.”

The glass ceiling quip was in part a callback to the speech she gave exactly eight years ago Tuesday, where she conceded the Democratic nomination to Senator Barack Obama, saying, “Although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling, thanks to you it's got about 18 million cracks in it.”

In her victory speech, Clinton reached out to Bernie Sanders’s supporters. She courted them with policy—her own emphases on inequality, affordable college education, and fighting free-trade deals are effectively borrowed from him—and with self-deprecating humor. “I know it never feels good to put your heart into a cause or candidate you believe in and to come up short. I know that feeling well,” she said with a wry smile. But most of all, she relied on praise for Sanders.

“He has spent his long career in public service fighting for progressive causes and principles, and he’s excited millions of voters, especially young people,” Clinton said. “Let there be no mistake. Senator Sanders, his campaign, and the vigorous debate we’ve had about how to raise incomes, reduce inequality, and increase upward mobility, have been very good for the Democratic Party and for America.”

Read the rest, and play-by-play on the liveblog, here.