Vox Populi: A Public Sphere for Politics and Poetry
As a supporter of Bernie Sanders, I was disappointed when he lost the Democratic nomination to Hillary Clinton. Bernie asked his supporters to help elect Clinton, so out of respect for him, I stepped up as a volunteer in the Hillary campaign even though I wasn’t excited about her. She seemed too much of an insider, an establishment figure, a resume builder, a functionary rather than a visionary. In recent months, however, as I’ve knocked on doors and called people during their dinner hour (sorry, folks!), watched her debate, and learned more about her history of public service, I’ve become convinced that her character and experience make her the most qualified candidate for the presidency in my lifetime. In her support for Civil Rights, Families, Economic Justice, and the Environment, both in her past actions in public office and in her stated positions as a presidential candidate, Hillary has shown courage, determination, and consistency.
Hillary Clinton has been a long-time fighter for the rights of the most vulnerable people in our society. As First Lady, she worked with attorney general Janet Reno to create the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women. And as Secretary of State, she pushed through departmental-wide regulations that gave same-sex couples the same rights as straight couples. She has fought for decades for increased funding for HIV treatment and research.
Hillary has earned strong support in the African-American and Hispanic communities through a lifetime of commitment to justice. She has promised to push through legislation to end racial profiling at all levels of government; reduce mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses, and restore voting rights to felons who have served their sentences. She supported comprehensive immigration reform in 2007 and continues to support it with the goal of strengthening our borders while respecting the important contributions of the working families who are already here.
Hillary recognizes that everyone’s right to vote must be vigorously protected. She is committed to restoring the portions of the Voting Rights Act that were recently struck down by the Supreme Court. And in order to encourage young people’s participation in democracy, she supports automatic voter registration at age 18.
Hillary has literally spent her entire adult life advocating for children and women. She was a prime mover behind the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, and was a key figure in finding compromises that allowed it to pass after partisan bickering nearly sank it. She was one of the prime movers behind SCHIP, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, eventually signed into law by Bill Clinton. She pushed the Adoption and Safe Families Act through Congress. She supports universal pre-K and 12 weeks of paid leave for new mothers or to recover from a serious illness.
She is pro-choice and supports the right of all women to have access to affordable contraception and safe and legal abortion.
As First Lady, she fought for the Family Medical Leave Act. As a senator, she worked to expand FMLA to cover wounded soldiers and their families. She supports the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and wants to expand and improve it, including the addition of a public insurance option.
On Hillary’s first day in office, she will set bold, national goals that will be achieved within 10 years of taking office:
Hillary supports the Paris Climate Agreement, and has endorsed a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050.
Hillary is well aware of the deep division between rich people and everyone else and the problems this division causes for our democracy. In fact, as a senator she voted against both of George Bush’s tax giveaways to the rich. She supports campaign finance reform and wants to overturn Citizens United.
If elected president, she will fight to raise the federal minimum wage to $12 per hour, close the carried-interest loophole that gives a tax break to hedge-fund managers, reform the financial and banking sector, increase the tax rate on the rich, beef up antitrust enforcement, and impose a tax on high-frequency stock market trading. She also plans to spend $275 billion over five years to rebuild infrastructure.
Character and Experience
Hillary Clinton is a fighter. Remember her 11 hours of testimony in front of the Benghazi committee that made the Republicans look like idiots? In her long career in public service, Hillary has consistently shown courage and determination. She has been the target of countless baseless attacks, but has always rebounded and kept on working. As Secretary of State, she was tireless in traveling the world to repair the damage to our reputation from the Bush years. In the Senate, she had a reputation as a legislator who could work across the aisle to get things done. Her word was always good. And she’s not afraid to take on the tough issues: for example, as Secretary of State, she personally negotiated the 2012 ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.
As President Obama has said, “What sets Hillary apart is that through it all, she just keeps on going, and she doesn’t stop caring, and she doesn’t stop trying, and she never stops fighting for us — even if we haven’t always appreciated it.”
And finally — and this may be the deal clincher for many voters — It’s about damn time we had a woman president.
Copyright 2016 Michael Simms
This article relies on facts from a number of sources, most notably, Kevin Drum’s article The Progressive Case for Hillary Clinton is Pretty Overwhelming, published in Mother Jones.
Remember Hillary’s 11 hours of testimony in front of the Benghazi committee that made the Republicans look like idiots? In her long career in public service, Hillary has consistently shown courage and determination. She has been the target of countless baseless attacks, but has always rebounded and kept on working.