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Since Sunday’s debate, I’ve felt little tremors of uncertainty among my friends who are genuinely conflicted over who to support in the caucuses. Now seems like a good time to make my personal case for supporting Hillary Clinton, to hopefully contribute to the kind of thoughtful reflection that these folks are going through.
I’ll say that I admire both Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley, and that I will support whoever wins the Democratic nomination with the same energy and enthusiasm I’ve given Hillary during the caucus season. That said, here are some reasons why I believe that Hillary is the best choice for the Democratic nomination in 2016, and why I hope you (whoever you are) will support her. Sorry if this is a wall of text. Bear with me, I tried to keep it all in one place. A short summary of points I make below:
– Hillary will help my family and families like mine in the next 4-8 years.
– Hillary’s attention to local concerns and presidential responses.
– Hillary’s foreign policy expertise and international reputation.
– Hillary’s coalition building within the democratic party and related orgs.
– Hillary’s tenacity will bring about change–incremental change, but change–which is the proper job of the President.
Hillary Clinton will make my family’s life better by the time my girls are in college (should they chose to). She will protect our health care, ensure that Planned Parenthood is there, promote LGBTQ equality, and make college and student loans less of a burden. All of these things I want to see happen and be status quo by the time my daughters are young adults.
She will advocate for changes that will make a difference for other families like mine, too. I especially admire the fact that she will help us over our entire lifespan. She advocates for childcare cost reduction. We paid $10k last year for childcare. She advocates for free or reduced cost preschool. She will work to ensure that my pay will be the same as my male counterparts, and that when I need to take leave for family reasons, I can do that without going broke jeopardizing my career. Her policies make me think of the sighs of relief, the feeling of a lifted burden when you aren’t worrying about covering all of the necessary ground just to live daily life. Hillary also advocates for tax breaks for those providing elder care to family. This is such a huge Iowa issue: think of the enormous benefit this would bring to all of those who are struggling to manage regular life, care for aging relatives, or struggling to pay for quality care for seniors. I do not want a President who is too busy renegotiating health care or too green to press these issues through over the next almost-decade (hopefully!).
Speaking of Iowa, a strong reason I support Hillary is that she attends to issues on the ground. She pays close attention to what’s happening not just nationally, but locally. Since I first saw her in July, she has been speaking out against Brandstad’s medicaid and education debacles. This is a huge problem for our state, and she mentions it almost every time she comes here. She gets to know states and speaks to specific concerns. Perhaps the best example of this is the way she responded to the Flint Water Crisis, where she didn’t just react with a statement (or prayers and thoughts), but sent two high level advisors with Michigan connections to Flint and asked How can we help? On Rachel Maddow, she had specific suggestions both for the Governor (which he basically took) and what she would do as President if he didn’t act soon. The endorsement from Flint’s mayor speaks volumes about her fast, action-oriented response:
“As far as what Hillary Clinton has done, she has actually been the only—the only—candidate, whether we’re talking Democratic or Republican, to reach out and talk with us about, ‘What can I do? What kind of help do you need?’” she added.
The only candidate. She’s also rightly casting the Flint issue as a civil rights issue, pushing it into the Federal realm. These are the actions of a President.
Another area where she is hands-down the most Presidential and most prepared is foreign policy. Need I even get into this? We cannot, at this time in history, ignore how incredibly important it is that we have a strong international leader with diplomatic experience and a record of accomplishment. For the sake of contrast, consider the detailed and informed response to the release of Iran prisoners and the nuclear deal that Hillary released, versus Bernie Sanders’ statement.
Which is the commentary of a President? Honestly, I could have written a Facebook update identical to Bernie’s. Who do we want to go meet foreign leaders? What do we want the international community to think of American society? We’ve already seen the British parliament have fun decrying Donald Turnip, but beneath that, they’re making fun of our country. Because we must seem absolutely ridiculous to the rest of the world right now. Which candidate will be taken seriously by other countries? I wish you all could have seen Madeleine Albright speak about Hillary. Now, I know they are BFF, but that doesn’t make her wrong about Hillary. I would give the best stump speech ever for my wonderful and incredible BFFs, and I would be both biased and right. Without exception, people who have held the most prominent, significant roles in American diplomacy endorse her leadership. That is a strong persuading factor.
Hillary also represents a coalition of Democratic leaders and organizations. Now, I understand and sympathize the skepticism people feel about the “political establishment,” but I disagree with the logical fallacy that one is either establishment or grassroots. The two work hand in hand. The fact is that to accomplish goals, grassroots folks organize, create structures, and have goals. The political “establishment” provides one strong avenue for organization and change for people who care about change. It’s not the only one, certainly, but it is there for a reason and has (gasp) done a lot of good for a lot of people. Collaboration among organizations and candidates helps both achieve goals and make progress. It isn’t merely influence-peddling, although that is a factor. It also indicates a willingness to work together, and confidence in a candidate to promote meaningful goals. The fact that Hillary has the overwhelming confidence of Democrats in congress is a huge statement. They WANT to work with her. Considering how much in-fighting there can be within the party itself, seeing, what 500+ endorsements from sitting government officials? That’s enormously confidence building. There will be enough fight with Republicans. We don’t need more within our own group.
Hillary carries the endorsements of a lot of organizations that I love. Planned Parenthood, NARAL, HRC– these are folks who went for Obama in ’08 and now see Hillary as the best person to promote their amazing and wonderful agendas. I don’t dispute the other candidates’ records on supporting women and LGBTQ communities, but I do see these endorsements as ya know — really freakin’ impressive. And the BRADY CAMPAIGN, you guys. In this time when we might have a chance to reduce gun violence in our country, the Brady Campaign’s endorsement should carry a lot of weight. The fact that there is a coherence among Democratic causes and leadership that says she is an excellent choice, and it’s pretty astonishing that it isn’t more carved up. All of this is to say that we shouldn’t dismiss these endorsements.
She doesn’t ignore the lower levels either. She raised $18k for down-ticket Democrats. Bernie raised 0 (I’m not sure about O’Malley). She recognizes the importance of party-building right now so that, maybe in a cycle or two, we will have that cooperative congress who will negotiate and promote progressive change. A presidential candidate standing next to a state-level candidate–or a small town mayor–is genuinely powerful. She builds and encourages progressive people at all levels. She’s watering those roots. This is essential to the future of liberal and progressive America.
The fact is that an “establishment” candidate can get a lot done. I’m very glad that we have an ideological candidate pushing HRC to the left on social issues that are VITAL to our future. We need that voice. We always need principles to be the light we follow as we walk the path. But I don’t see the Presidency as the place to achieve dramatic cultural revolution. The President can advance an agenda, but cannot simultaneously lead a country-wide grassroots movement. That’s on us at the roots-level.
At the end of the day, we’re interviewing a candidate for a specific job and role, and I want a candidate who will be great at the political process. This quotation from Aaron David Miller’s book The End of Greatness strongly resonates with me:
Stop expecting these Presidents to be a cross between Harrison Ford in Air Force 1 and Superman so that you can allow them to be good, good in the sense of the word, good in the sense that they can be effective, they know what they are doing. Good in the sense that they remain within the limits of the law with with great moral sensibility. And good in the sense that they understand themselves. They have emotional intelligence; they are not haunted or driven by demons or aspirations that force them into scandal or sent into self-created crises, which causes overreach.
And maybe that’s my overall guiding principle: I want things to get done. I’m fine with incremental change. Incremental change is GOOD. It is more than zero, and far more than going backwards, which is what WILL happen if a Republican is elected. Frankly, the Dem nominee will be fighting just to retain what we’ve gained, and I see Hillary as the tenacious person to do that and to push the country forward, step by step, towards our higher goals. Hillary has a toughness and determination that I think is the temperament we need right nowto push our agenda forward at this time in history.
Ya know, I’m a Mom. My entire adult life has been spent learning the hard lesson that every day is a small fight towards long term goals. Every interaction with my precocious, stubborn children is a negotiation towards living together in peace and harmony, and I have to pick my battles. Every time I do the dishes, it’s two steps forward, one step back towards a clean and comfortable home. Every time I stay late at work and feel guilty is offset by staying up a little late to sing songs with the girls. I’ve learned the joy and value of the little win. Those wins add up to what I hope is a good life for my family. I certainly have values about what makes a good home and family to guide me, but the little wins are what get me through the day; otherwise, I’d be constantly wallowing in a sense of failure and despair that I wasn’t, in every moment, living up to a fantasy that isn’t compatible with real life. Is this a perfect analogy? Absolutely not, but the Mom within me connects that that mentality of toughness and determination to set goals that can be reached realistically, maybe incrementally, that get us closer and closer towards our dreams.
I don’t see that as “settling.” I see that as an intelligent choice grounded in my sincere beliefs in the best way to enact the progressive principles that glue us all together. No political gain happens overnight. No political gain, in my opinion, happens because a President wants it to, without an enormous amount of work, planning, strategizing, starts and stops, wins and losses within the government and within American society. (If you want to hear me ramble on about that for a few hours, ask me about the cold war era!!) We need a President who is in it for the hard work and wins both large and small, and who will use the precious little time he or she has to press us forward unrelentingly. I believe that Hillary will go in, day 1, with a strong idea of what to do, how to do it, and she is chomping at the bit to get to work. I wanna hire her so bad, you guys.