Over the course of a contentious election year, I’ve deliberately refrained from endorsing a specific candidate for president. It doesn’t come as a huge surprise that I’m not endorsing Donald Trump, because he is diametrically opposed to everything I stand for and believe in, but I also didn’t weigh in during the primaries, for a variety of reasons. (Spoiler: Probably not the reasons you think.) However, November is right around the corner, and you need to make a choice.
I see a lot of people saying things like ‘she’s not perfect but…’ and ‘you have to vote for Secretary Clinton because she’s better than the alternative…’ and ‘hold your nose and vote for her.’ I’m pretty tired of it.
Here’s the thing: Do I agree with Secretary Clinton on 100 percent of her policy positions and proposals? No, I do not. But that’s not because of who she is. It’s because I don’t agree to that degree with any politician, ever, and I would be highly suspicious if I did. This isn’t about a purity test. Nor is it about whether I think she is ‘likable’ enough to be president (p.s. the likability conversation is sexist and disgusting). People don’t need to apologise for supporting her.
Rather, it’s about this: Is she qualified? If I didn’t think she was qualified, and if I felt that the preponderance of her policies was unacceptable, I wouldn’t endorse her. Period. I don’t back politicians whom I think would be bad for this country, and I do not think that Secretary Clinton would be bad for this country. To the contrary: I think she could be really good for it.
Is she qualified?
Secretary Clinton has been in public service for most of her life. Aside from her experience as an attorney, and then First Lady of Arkansas and later the United States (which isn’t all tea parties and state dinners — in both positions, she was an active participant in shaping and enacting policy), she also has experience as a Senator and Secretary of State. Secretary Clinton is an extremely accomplished woman with a considerable resume to her credit.
She’s skilled at working across the aisle and collaborating on domestic issues. She also has extensive diplomatic experience as Secretary of State. While she hasn’t served in the armed forces, she’s worked extensively with the DOD and is familiar with a range of military issues.
She is extremely wonky: Secretary Clinton is willing to sit down for hours to thoroughly understand an issue, and she’s thoughtful about how she uses that information. She’s extremely level-headed, and is willing to make decisions that are sometimes challenging, when there’s no easy answer. These are traits I want in a president.
What about her policies?
Secretary Clinton was bringing up climate change as a national security threat before it was a mainstream issue. She has been a tireless advocate for children’s welfare. She has an aggressive education policy that includes plans to make college tuition at public schools free for many Americans, in collaboration with Senator Bernie Sanders. She cares passionately about health care and is focused on improving access to care in the United States. Disability rights are important to her, and she’s put her money where her mouth is. At State, she formalised benefits for same-gender couples before it was popular.
In collaboration with, and under pressure from, Senator Sanders, she’s committed to addressing the abuses of the financial system. She wants to see corporations and the super-rich paying their fair share. She’s indicated that she wants money out of politics. She has substantive policies to improve life in rural communities. She’s advocating for sensible policy on substance abuse prevention and treatment. She’s concerned about gun violence. About veterans’ welfare. She wants paid family and medical leave. She’s invested in protecting voting rights. In expanding access to affordable housing.
There are holes in her platform. I’m not going to pretend there aren’t. I’d like to see more aggressive discussions of transgender rights and systemic racism. More food politics. I’d like bolder immigration policy. Explicit discussions of comprehensive prison reform. More advocacy on mental health issues. Better protections for agricultural labourers and domestic workers. A pro-decriminalisation stance for sex work. There are a host of other things I would like to see, and I hope we will see over the course of a Clinton presidency.
You can read more about her platform right here.
What about her capacity for growth?
This is, on many levels, the most important thing. No politician’s platform is going to be inclusive out of the gate, but what matters is how they respond to feedback from constituents. How their opinions on social issues evolve. How they demonstrate a capacity for talking with people and working with them to develop better policy proposals. And Secretary Clinton shows every evidence of doing just that. Over the course of her campaign, her positions have evolved and solidified in collaboration with members of the communities she’s trying to work in solidarity with.
Sometimes those evolutions have been better than others. Some voices still aren’t at the table and need to be. But she is demonstrating an interest in actively working to earn the vote of many (though not all) people in the United States. She has developed a platform that is in many ways very radical for a major party candidate, with elements of intersectionality and a focus on recognising that many people have been silenced in political conversations. She is open to criticism.
It’s important to draw some distinctions here. Secretary Clinton, like all politicians, should be criticised and called to task. That’s an important part of the political process. She should have to work to earn the votes of the constituencies she claims to care about. That is her job. However, much of the criticism of Secretary Clinton has crossed the line from legitimate political discussion and into sexism and misogyny. In many cases, the problem seems not to be a given policy, but the fact that a woman, and a Clinton specifically, is advancing it. It’s important to remember that when having discussions about the candidate.
The bottom line: I will be voting for Secretary Hillary Clinton in November, for the above reasons among many others, and I hope that you will too. And should she be elected, I will continue pressuring her on issues that are important to me, just as I have done all along, and I hope you will too.
Vote for Secretary Clinton not on the grounds that she is the ‘lesser of two evils’ or the ‘best choice of a bad lot.’ Vote for her because you think she is qualified to become the next President of the United States, and because her approach to policy shows incredible promise for the future.
Image: Asia Society, Flickr