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Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Case for Hillary Clinton

On November 8, American voters should elect Hillary Clinton, a deeply experienced and solidly liberal candidate, as the first woman president. The specter of Donald Trump, a dangerous demagogue and cavalier charlatan, leading our diverse, democratic country on the world stage should be sufficient reason to vote for Clinton. But beyond the frightening prospect of Trump's hand on the nuclear button, a truly devastating scenario that should scare every American, there is an affirmative case for Clinton that has to be made.

She is prepared, knowledgeable, qualified, intelligent, an incredible listener, and a fiercely productive worker; as such, she exhibits virtually all the hallmark qualities of a capable leader. With regards to her policy positions, she has long been a stalwart domestic policy liberal, particularly on issues that are elemental to the progressive movement: health care, child care, taxes, and even criminal justice.

It is a shame that she has to remind media outlets of this experience but it's true, as she said in January on MSNBC's Morning Joe, that she has a track record of fighting "inequality of all kinds." Dating back to her impressive career as a legal aid lawyer, working in the Children's Defense Fund and overseeing strong funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) in the Carter administration, she's demonstrated genuine concern for underprivileged people.

Moving forward, she should be expected to uphold President Obama's core policy achievements, consequential laws and executive actions that have improved the lives of millions. Rightly, she's run proudly on Obama's record of progress. More specifically, she is in favor of ideas that are evidence-based, needed for this moment, and rightfully left of center.

Those proposals include Bernie Sanders' push for debt-free college, particularly salient in this time of high debt; experts have noted that such a policy actually fiscally assist the budget given the vast amounts already spent on various aid programs. Students' own fiscal house would also be in order. That way they can prepare more productively, with less hassle, for their futures, an outcome favorable for the broader economy. Importantly too, unlike her opponent (who called climate change "a hoax"), Clinton is ready to tackle climate change, a problem her record and her calls for further regulation of greenhouse gases make clear she takes seriously.

As if these issues were not enough, Clinton has also demonstrated a commanding prowess of health care policy, a realm she is familiar with in intimate detail. Her suggestions in this arena are laudable too. The Affordable Care Act, a major step forward in insurance reform, would be greatly improved with a government-run public option and more generous subsidies. These ideas would make health insurance more affordable for struggling families and they are ones Clinton has embraced. On immigration, she's also shown a willingness to go further than Obama as she's pledged to build on his protections from deportation for millions thus putting families at ease. On criminal justice reform, she's harkened back to her roots, as someone who went undercover to go after discrimination in education rights, to propose a compelling series of proposals (i.e. severely limiting mandatory minimums) to end mass incarceration.

Lastly, there is the issue of the Supreme Court. Whoever Clinton appoints will, in all certainty, be more progressive minded than whoever Trump puts on the Court. If voters arm Clinton too with a Democratic Senate majority, they can expect to see a justice who is in the mold of great, liberal jurists like Ruth Bader Ginsburg -- someone who is dedicated to advancing civil rights and rooting out injustices that have harmed our democracy like the Citizens United ruling and the case that gutted the Voting Rights Act. Such a justice would see the Constitution as it should be seen: a living, breathing document that must be interpreted in light of our ever changing society.

On the other hand, Clinton's radical opponent, the uniquely awful Donald Trump, sees the world a different way. Electing Trump would be a regressive shock to the system unlike one we've ever seen. He would gut Obama's accomplishments, as he promised recently here in the electorally all-important Philadelphia suburbs, thus sending into financial misery millions of Americans who are now insured, enjoying stronger wages finally after years of stagnation, and protected by the CFPB from the recklessness of institutions like Wells Fargo.

More importantly, Trump would fundamentally reshape and alter the identity of the country. We would no longer be as welcoming to immigrants, we would cease to have any regard for the enriching diversity of our beautiful country, and his very presence as our president would mean to the world that we accepted his brand of bigotry, misogyny, and recklessness in words and deeds. Ultimately, he is, as Clinton and Obama so often say, "temperamentally unfit" for the office, something he's proven again and again with how easily he is angered and how dangerously he asked three times in a one-hour meeting on security why we cannot use nuclear weapons at will.

In the end, this election, in my humble opinion, is a binary choice. Either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States. Given the impressiveness of Clinton's strong record and the strength of her policy proposals, and the unusual threat to our institutions and norms represented by Donald Trump, voters should pick Clinton for the sake of our country's survival, frankly, as we know it. It's true that Clinton has blemishes on her record.

She's more hawkish than Obama, as demonstrated in her vote for the Iraq war, and her handling of her email on a private server was inexcusable. But she's also shown a willingness to learn from these errors, calling such moves "mistakes," and, as such, she showed an attentiveness to criticism that her opponent would never consider. That key part of it should speak well about how she'll govern as opposed to her rival. Lest I say more? In the end, it is no contest. Vote. The world is watching.

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