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Clinton, The DNC, Illinois And The White House

Amanda Vinicky

Last night Hillary Clinton - a woman born and raised in the Chicago suburbs – accepted Democrats’ nomination for President.

In roughly 100 days, voters will decide whether she or Republican Donald Trump will be the next president. Which means it’s the beginning of the end for President Barack Obama.

Illinois was right up front throughout the convention.


While some states were seated in bleachers, Illinois had front-row seats, on the left side of the stage.

And now and again, Illinoisans were on that stage.

Some told emotional stories, rooted in a mix of anguish and outrage, like Geneva Reed-Veal, the mother of Sandra Bland -- the 28-year-old Naperville woman who committed suicide in a Texas jail, where had spent days after she had been stopped for failure to use a turn signal.

Earlier this week, she stood alongside other mothers whose childrens'  deaths galvanized the Black Lives Matter movement and endorsed Clinton.

“She (Clinton) knows, that when a young, black life is cut short, it’s not just a loss. It’s a personal loss. It’s a national loss. It’s a loss that diminishes all of us," Reed-Veal said.

Other speeches featuring leaders from Illinois were more politically prosaic, like those promoting Clinton given by Congressman Luis Gutierrez, and Congresswoman and veteran Tammy Duckworth.

“She stands with us so Americans remain and Americans remain a welcoming nation. We don’t discriminate because of what you look like, who you love, what language your parents speak, or where you were born,” Guiterrez said.

Duckworth talked about her young daughter, named after Abigail Adams.

“My Abigail already knows women can fly helicopters in combat. And in 102 days, when we elect Hillary, my daughter's first memories of a President will be of a woman,” Duckworth said.

It was a similar, though more prominent, keynote address, that during the 2004 DNC launched Obama’s path to the presidency.

“And I stand here today, grateful for the diversity of my heritage. Aware that my parents’ dreams live in on the story of my daughters. I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story and that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that on no other country on earth is my story even possible," he said in that speech.

Then, Obama was an Illinois state senator.

One of his peers in the General Assembly, State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, also a Chicago Democrat, says it’s bittersweet knowing that her party’s nomination of a new president means Obama’s time as the nation’s leader is coming to an end.

“We’re really going to miss him. You know, he does have magic and I think you only meet and are able to work with – I mean a lot of us were in the legislature with him for a really long time, sponsored a lot of bills with him, joked around with him. He’s a very, very special person to all of us and we’re all so proud.”

Should a Democrat again win the White House, Illinois will retain a tie to the presidency. Clinton can now easily claim New York – which she represented in the U.S. Senate, or Arkansas, where she was First Lady.

But she was born in the suburbs of Chicago, and has local friends from grade school and beyond who are now propping up her candidacy for the Senate.

One of them – Betsy Ebeling, who still lives in the suburbs – had the gotta be surreal experience of officially nominating her bestie as President of the United States.

“My sweet friend, I know you’re watching, this one’s for you Hill; 98 votes. Yes,” she said, chocking up during the roll call Tuesday night (Ebeling  was also featured in a short biographic video of Clinton that showed Thursday night before her acceptance speech). 

Even so, it’s expected that no matter who wins the presidential race, with Obama’s moving on, Illinois will lose White House clout.

Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.
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