Hillary Rodham Clinton announced last Sunday that she is running for the Democratic nomination for President in 2016. While Clinton is one of the best-known people in the world, more folks might be familiar with knee-jerk labels used to describe her. In fact, Hillary has a long record of commitment to progressive American values. Here are seven reasons to love Hillary Clinton for President:
Wellesley graduation speech — Republican U.S. Senator Edward Brooke was the featured speaker at the 1969 Wellesley College graduation ceremony. Brooke criticized “coercive protest,” in reference to the protests that had been sweeping American campuses against the Vietnam War, civil rights violations and other injustices. Then it was Hillary Rodham’s turn to speak as the school’s first-ever graduation day student speaker. In an impromptu tour de force, Rodham prefaced her prepared remarks with a direct response to Brooke’s speech. Hillary managed to be tough on Brooke, yet polite so that no one could accuse her of being rude. After Rodham’s speech, many in the audience were duly stunned and impressed. The next day, the Boston Globe‘s headline read: “Sen. Brooke Upstaged at Wellesley Commencement.”
Early Experience — During her time at Wellesley and afterwards , Hillary Clinton worked for a number of liberal individuals and organizations, including campaigning for anti-war Senator Eugene McCarthy for President in 1968 and for liberal Senator George McGovern‘s 1972 Presidential campaign, working for civil rights attorney Marion Wright Edelman, working as an attorney for the Children’s Defense Fund, serving as Director of the legal aid clinic at the University of Arkansas Law School, and being appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the Board of Directors of the Legal Services Corporation.
Breaking Glass Ceilings — When husband Bill Clinton was Governor of Arkansas and then U.S. President, Hillary Clinton continued to serve as a role model for many American women and girls. For example, Clinton kept working as an attorney in private practice, the first working Arkansas First Lady, when Bill became Governor. Hillary was then promoted to partner at her law firm, and eventually was named one of the 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America by the National Law Journal. Moreover, many of Hillary Clinton’s professional activities (such as heading the Arkansas Education Standards Committee) occurred after Hillary became a mother to daughter Chelsea in 1980.
Universal healthcare — Years before President Barack Obama took on healthcare reform, President Bill Clinton proposed universal healthcare, and put Hillary in charge of the task force assigned to come up with the plan specifics. This was a risky move by Hillary Clinton, both in terms of the massive scope of healthcare reform being proposed, and Hillary’s taking on such an unprecedented policy role as First Lady. The very ambitious Clinton healthcare reform plan, which involved an employer mandate, ultimately was defeated, in part due to the phony “Harry and Louise” ads funded by the Health Insurance Association of America comprised of healthcare insurance providers. Nevertheless, Hillary Clinton deserves a lot of credit for taking on this giant task, and helping to pave the way for future healthcare reform efforts, such as the successful State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Today, Clinton supports the Affordable Care Act, and vaccines for children.
11th Most Liberal U.S. Senator — During her term as U.S. Senator from New York, Hillary Clinton was the 11th most liberal Senator in the country. Among Clinton’s votes were: FOR (co-sponsor) the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, FOR low income home energy assistance funding, FOR extending and expanding Medicare, FOR (co-sponsor) removing immunity for telecommunications companies under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, FOR the importation of prescription drugs to keep prices down, FOR the Dream Act, FOR State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) reauthorization and expansion, FOR Iraq troop reduction, FOR (co-sponsor) bridge repair funding, FOR clean energy subsidies, etc.
Appointing judges — Democratic and Republican Presidents typically look to their bases when they appoint judges to the U.S. Supreme Court and the other U.S. federal courts. These judges have as much or more power over our lives as do Presidents and Congressional representatives, on issues ranging from guns to abortion to marriage equality to civil rights. Examining the currently active Supreme Court appointments of recent Democratic Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton (Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Steven Breyer) versus the currently active Supreme Court appointments by recent Republican Presidents George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan (Samuel Alito, John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia), the difference is vast. In fact, these Democratic appointments or their predecessors make up the “liberal” minority, and the Republican appointments make up the “conservative” majority, that have rendered many impactful 5-4 decisions such as Bush v. Gore (crowning George W. Bush as President), Citizens United, Hobby Lobby and others. There is every reason to believe a President Hillary Clinton would make similar picks as did Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. For example, Clinton announced more than two years ago that she supports gay marriage. Hillary is also on record strongly in support of abortion rights, contraception and family planning, and just two weeks ago she tweeted:
Like IN law, AR bill goes beyond protecting religion, would permit unfair discrimination against #LGBT Americans. I urge Governor to veto.
Ugly Republican Attacks — Many Republican attacks against Hillary Clinton are full of lies, misogynistic hate, or both. For example, Rand Paul attacked Hillary over Bill Clinton’s infidelities with Monica Lewinsky. Such attacks hark back to a time when women were told to shut up and stay home, an attitude that Hillary has fought against her entire life. That’s not necessarily a reason to vote for Hillary Clinton, but hopefully Democrats, progressives and liberals will at least defend Hillary — and by extension many other Americans — from such attacks.
Hillary Clinton has an impressive resume, and a record of accomplishments that is too long to mention in total here. Voters should take a look at Clinton’s record, rather than just falling for labels that one special interest group or another throw around. And during the 2016 Presidential primaries, whoever you support, let’s leave the circular firing squad to the Republicans.
Photo by Marc Nozell, used under Creative Commons license. http://is.gd/4maWr5