Instead of shattering glass ceilings, let’s talk about opening doors

It’s Democratic National Convention Week! In any other year we probably would have heard this week described as a big one if you’re “into politics.”

But it’s not any other year. We’re in a global pandemic and our country (ahem, President Donald Trump) has failed to mount a thoughtful, coordinated and cohesive response to COVID-19 based on actual science. The total absence of leadership has killed more than 170,000 Americans. It’s wrecking our economy. It is leaving people hungry, homeless and without hope.

So … in these times, convention week is a big week for everyone, regardless of whether you’re into politics. It’s big if you like the idea of being part of a country that cares about humanity. It’s big if you’re looking forward to a break from the constant stream of anxiety coursing through our veins. And it’s big if, like me, you would like to know that someone, somewhere has a plan.

The Democratic National Convention was supposed to be in Milwaukee, but because of the pandemic, it’s virtual. It’s heartbreaking that the great city of Milwaukee, and that beautiful Fiserv Forum, didn’t get their moments in front of a national (global?) audience. But I think a heavy dose of inspiration and even — gasp — complete sentences is something we all desperately need. While clunky at times, we got a number of powerful moments during the convention’s first night on Monday with the emotional Bruce Springsteen montage set to “The Rising” and former First Lady Michelle Obama’s straightforward assessment about the current administration.

Just like an NFL game, coverage of these conventions are filled with clichés. That’s going to be especially true this year with U.S. Senator Kamala Harris as presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s running mate. She’s this country’s first Black woman and first person of Indian descent to be nominated for national office by a major party. She’s only the fourth woman in U.S. history to be selected for a presidential ticket. All of those milestones in one candidate means we’re going to hear a lot about “shattering the glass ceiling” this week.

I like Harris a lot and, of course, her selection is historic. But something I don’t like? That we use a destructive metaphor to describe it. Like we’ve got to smash something to get something? Instead of smashing a glass ceiling, could we instead talk about a door being open to someone who is smart and absolutely capable of being Vice President?

And, at least right now in our country, I don’t think that door would open without Biden. After running with former President Barack Obama as part of that historic ticket in 2008 and 2012, here he is again. And this could be the door that eventually opens to a Black woman president.

I don’t know that you could write a better ending to the final chapters of Biden’s political career than being part of not just one, but two, history-making teams with White House ambitions. After all, it was 1991 when he presided over the Senate Judiciary Committee, which was made up of all white men, and failed to give Anita Hill a fair hearing for her allegations of sexual harassment from then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.

A lot can change over 29 years. Let’s hope we can say the same for the next four.

Amy Bailey was a member of the Michigan Capitol Press Corps from 2000-2006. She lives and works in Green Bay, Wisconsin, with her husband, son and an easily excitable Australian Shepherd named Max. Amy's guest column, Something to Say, publishes periodically. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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