Longtime lurker here! I decided to join Daily Kos after months of reading great content from diarists like Lysis, First Amendment, Teacherken, RedDan, and DOV, as well as Kos himself. You and many others inspired me to become a part of the conversation that happens here every day.
A little about me: I am a 21-year-old millennial from western Pennsylvania, and I am a proud liberal. I am also a proud Hillary Clinton supporter (perhaps not a commonly-expressed stance in my demographic), and I’d like to explain my choice. My support for Secretary Clinton is grounded in a preference for her on most issues, and my experience has been that when members of my age group are exposed to her agenda in all its detail, they warm up to her pretty quickly.
It is clear to me that Hillary Clinton has both the progressive values necessary to identify the problems confronting our nation and a well-designed policy agenda to solve those problems.
First, on an issue of great importance to my generation, Secretary Clinton has proposed the most comprehensive and best-designed college affordability plan of this election cycle, and perhaps in all of recent history. The proposal aims to guarantee debt-free higher education at public universities, as well as relief for current borrowers in the form of refinancing options and requiring that loan repayments reflect the borrower’s ability to pay. Targeting debt itself distinguishes this plan, allowing it to reach beyond tuition: room and board and other substantial costs may also require debt accumulation under the current system. Given the struggles of nearly every one of my close friends, as well as the national statistics on student debt, it is clear to me that these practical changes would make a massive positive difference in the lives of millions of students. Finally, Secretary Clinton’s plan goes beyond the top-line issue to the underlying root problem: runaway growth in higher ed costs. The proposal uses substantial grants to incentivize institutions to “bend their cost curves” and control cost growth over the long term. As in the fight over healthcare reform, it is my belief that any serious, comprehensive plan must address cost growth. If higher education is to be a virtual requirement for economic security, the government must assume the bulk of the costs. However, simply shifting the burden of paying to the government is inadequate if the incentive structures driving cost growth are not altered.
On issues of racial justice, I have been impressed with both candidates’ policy proposals. However, I have been especially impressed with Secretary Clinton’s commitment to fighting racial discrimination at every stage of her career, her long attention to and deep ties with the African-American community, her ability to listen and to admit past mistakes, and her prioritization of racial discrimination in the current campaign. It is clear that Secretary Clinton believes racism and its roots must be addressed directly.
It is important to me that Secretary Clinton places “social issues” like women’s rights and LGBT rights front and center. These are not side issues or distractions, or issues where we can “agree to disagree.” They are fundamental to whole groups of people, and in many cases are a matter of life and death. In my view, a progressive candidate must not treat these and other so-called “identity issues” as anything other than a priority. Clinton’s commitment to defending and expanding contraception access, the right to choose, same-sex marriage, and LGBT non-discrimination are key to my support.
On immigration, Secretary Clinton has supported both of the last decade’s comprehensive immigration reform efforts, and has pledged more aggressive executive action on the issue if Congress continues to block reform. Her experience in the administrative trenches will make her uniquely effective in wielding executive power to protect and expand immigrants’ rights. It is clear that Secretary Clinton regards immigration as a beneficial force for the United States. Her progressive view is certainly closer to mine than Senator Sanders’ 2007 statement that immigrants “drive wages down,” and his efforts to defeat Ted Kennedy’s comprehensive immigration reform bill in order to protect workers from “amnesty.” To Senator Sanders’ credit, he has come around on the issue. In any case, Secretary Clinton stands head and shoulders above the nativism and anti-immigrant myths that have taken over the Republican party.
On trade, Secretary Clinton again has the best of the argument with her stance that we must be open to trade but that bad agreements should be rejected on their merits. We are not realistically going to alienate our allies by withdrawing from existing trade agreements. The priority going forward should be to make a liberal case for trade by demanding progressive agreements that protect workers and the environment, advance U.S. leadership in the global economy, and continue to expand the benefits of trade to developing nations. These agreements should be paired with large public investments in worker protection and skills training, as well as (a great idea from former Rep. Barney Frank) a major infrastructure program. A reflexive anti-trade stance is wrongheaded and destructive. We need and benefit from trade, but we need trade deals that advance progressive priorities.
On healthcare, I would like to see more specifics from Secretary Clinton’s campaign, but she shares my values that universal healthcare is an imperative for our country. She also shares my belief that there are multiple paths to universal care, and that single-payer may not be viable at this point in time. We have a large existing health insurance industry, and a move to single payer would end that industry and its workers’ livelihoods, as well as removing health insurance from many who are satisfied with it. If the backlash to the ACA’s comparatively minor coverage disruptions is at all predictive, such a change would be massively unpopular. Instead, we should demand universal affordable care by instituting all-payer rate setting, fighting for a public option, significantly increasing ACA subsidies, and expanding Medicaid eligibility upwards.
It is clear to me from Secretary Clinton’s life’s work that she is a compassionate, sincere, and effective agent of positive change. Her progressive values and commitment to helping the vulnerable speak to my sense of justice and make me a proud, inspired supporter; her incredible policy acumen and appreciation for technical details confirm to my rational side that I’ve made the right choice. I look forward to fighting for her to the convention and beyond, and supporting our Democratic nominee in 2016.