They named their second daughter Amelia Earhart Mason.
And when Cory Mason cast his Wisconsin delegate vote for Hillary Clinton on Tuesday night, he said he was thinking of a quote from Earhart.
“Never interrupt someone doing something you said couldn’t be done,” advised the aviation pioneer.
“It just seems so appropriate this week,” said Mason. “There’s a lot going on here. It’s easy to get distracted. But, tonight, someone accomplished something that not that long ago they said could not be done. A woman was nominated for president.”
Mason got that right. At a convention where supporters of Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders still have serious differences (and dozens of Sanders delegates staged a walkout after Tuesday night’s roll call of the states), where the longtime chair of the party is stepping down after WikiLeaks published scandalous e-mails, where a candidate for vice president is being introduced to America, and where Democrats are busy framing their message for a tough campaign against Donald Trump, the historic moment came early on Tuesday night. Around 7 pm, after Sanders rose from amid the Vermont delegation and said, “I move that Hillary Clinton be selected as the nominee of the Democratic Party for president of the United States,” the roll call was finished.
For the first time in the history of the United States, a woman became the nominee of a major political party.
America has had 43 presidents. Americans have voted in 57 presidential elections. Yet they have never had a chance to vote for a woman on the ballot line of a major political party.
Until this year.
Women have tried before. They have made serious runs as third-party candidates, and they continue to do so; indeed, when the Green Party meets next month in Houston, it will likely nominate a woman, Dr. Jill Stein, to challenge Clinton from the left.
But Clinton’s securing of a major-party nomination on Tuesday night was unprecedented.
Others had tried. Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith was nominated at the 1964 Republican National Convention, and received 27 delegate votes. New York Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm was nominated at the 1972 Democratic National Convention, and her “unbought and unbossed” candidacy earned 152 delegate votes.
And in 2008, Hillary Clinton’s name was placed in nomination and received 1,010.5 delegate votes before she went to the convention floor and moved to suspend the rules and nominate Barack Obama by acclamation. That ended the recall before all the Clinton votes were counted.
On Tuesday night, when all the delegate votes were counted, Clinton earned 2,842 delegate votes to 1,865 for Sanders.
It was at that moment that Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Cecile Richards declared, “An enormous ceiling is coming down.”
Winning a major-party nomination for the presidency shatters a glass ceiling. It is not the ultimate glass ceiling—that’s the presidency itself—but it is an important one.
“You people have made history,” actress Meryl Streep told the delegates at the close of Tuesday’s session.
The delegates themselves held aloft red signs that simply announced: “History.”
The historical moment came late. I had to agree with New Yorker Maria Czerwinski, when she said on the floor as the roll call concluded, “What I think is that it’s too long in coming. So many other nations have had women ahead of us.”
“Are you ready to elect the first woman president of the United States?” asked California Senator Barbara Boxer, who answered her own question: “I am beyond ready.”
There are those who say they want a woman president, just not this woman. There are those who say that this woman is the most uniquely qualified contender in history. In the latter category was Bill Clinton, who on Tuesday night hailed his wife as “a natural leader,” “a good organizer…. the best darn change-maker I’ve ever met in my life.” The former state attorney general, governor, and president told the delegates that “Hillary opened my eyes to a whole new world of public service.”
Bill Clinton gave a carefully crafted speech that was rich in detail and personal insight—along with a few choice jabs at Republican president nominee Donald Trump.
But it was a speech by Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar that got to the heart of the matter.
“I’m here to make the case for a leader who, as you just saw, is focused on security: security for our country, our economy, and our democracy. A leader who knows we are all more secure when women have the opportunity to lead with their heads high and their strides strong. That leader is Hillary Clinton,” said Klobuchar. “She sees a world where girls are not captured and sold but are fearless and bold; where they lead, not follow. And where when someone tells a young woman, ‘You fight like a girl,’ her answer is, ‘Yes, I do. And I’m proud to be that girl!’”
Cory Mason was listening, especially when Hillary Clinton appeared before the convention live from New York and said to little girls who might have stayed up late to watch the convention: “I may become the first woman president, but one of you is next.”
“Something happened here tonight. A woman was nominated for president,” said Mason, with a broad smile crossing his face. “This is what Amelia and Eleanor will learn about in history class.”