Since announcing her candidacy in April 2015, I’ve been with her. Unapologetically. Unashamed. Proud. Some would like you to believe that my excitement for Secretary Clinton is not the norm. I don’t buy it.
I am supporting a candidate who spent her youth registering voters, reforming juvenile justice, and exposing racism in schools in the Deep South. I am supporting a former First Lady who led the fight for universal healthcare in the 1990s and extended coverage to millions of American children, leaving a blueprint for the passage of the Affordable Care Act. I am supporting a former U.S. Senator, who ensured that victims of 9/11 and their families received the care they needed after tragedy rocked her constituents and the nation at large. I am supporting a former Secretary of State who worked toward normalizing Russo-American relations by instituting the New START Treaty and slapped the toughest ever sanctions on Iran which catalyzed the nuclear deal framework arranged this past summer. I am supporting the candidate who asserted before the United Nations that “Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights.” I am supporting the most qualified candidate ever to seek the presidency, outside of a former vice president.
There is a clear generation gap that exists in this nominating contest. Putting it simply, millennials are “feeling the Bern” and aren’t with Hillary. Those between the ages of 18-29 support Senator Sanders by an over 2-1 (and sometimes 3-1) margin according to primary exit polls. Many young people view Secretary Clinton as untrustworthy and do not believe she reflects their concerns in her campaign platform. She does not give young voters the “shiver up their leg” that Barack Obama did and Bernie Sanders does with their respective oratorical styles. They think she is not progressive enough. I understand these concerns. I just do not hold them myself.
While petitioning voters to get Secretary Clinton’s name on the Delaware ballot (a certain number of signatures being necessary to appear on the state’s primary ballot), I came across an 82-year-old black woman who was enthused to have the chance to sign for Mrs. Clinton. She explained to me that she has been active in state politics for over five decades, helping a litany of Democrats get elected in her home state.
Out of curiosity, I asked her why she was supporting Hillary Clinton. She exclaimed with a sense of gusto and pride that Hillary was always a fighter for those without a voice, no matter where or how she served her country. She said that she and other African-Americans had to fight and claw for every bit of political enfranchisement they have earned over the past century. She told me how she fought and bled to help achieve every bit of incremental progress her community has attained. I asked, “Why not Senator Sanders, though?”
“What he’s promising…” she explained “…is a fantasy. It’s Alice in Wonderland. No, it’s Bernie in Wonderland.” The woman looked me in the eyes and said she has come too far and seen too much to be convinced a magic wand could be waved, and our nation’s systemic challenges could be solved.
Her words struck me. I am a white male from a privileged background. I will never experience the struggles and strife she has had to endure. I will never know the prejudice and hate that was directed towards her throughout her life. Her activism has helped contribute to real change.
My generation could take a lesson from this woman. Change does not occur from behind the keyboard, nor does it occur overnight. The status quo does not change after attending a rally. It changes by knocking on doors, fighting for legislation, registering people to vote, and bringing people together, not dividing them. It is a daily, yearly commitment to shaking society’s bedrock, and sometimes it is the struggle of a lifetime. This woman understood this, and so does Hillary Clinton.
Hillary Clinton is not more progressive than Bernie Sanders. That’s not too hard to figure out. But does that mean she will be a less effective president? I think the opposite is true.
Ideological purity does not mean you are any more of a Democrat or more of an effective executive. The American government is based on alliances, bargains, and compromises, not the rigidity of policy positions. Hillary Clinton has already proven her willingness to work across the aisle to bring real change to Americans.
I am proud to know I am not alone in my excitement of Secretary Clinton’s candidacy. Scores of students at Penn have joined the team in supporting Hillary and are working tirelessly to ensure she wins the nomination and then the presidency in November. Penn for Hillary has organized assiduously since its founding in 2014 through voter registration, issue advocacy, and community building to strengthen Secretary Clinton’s presence on campus. Penn Democrats proudly endorsed Hillary in February and she was the overwhelming choice among Democrats in the first ever Penn caucuses, which gauged overall campus support of the candidates.
Pragmatic progressivism should be embraced, not ridiculed. I’m proud and enthusiastic to cast my first ever-presidential vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton. Please go out and vote on April 26th for the next President of the United States, Hillary Rodham Clinton. I’m not just ready for Hillary; I’m excited for Hillary.