Eight years ago, I was not old enough to vote, but I was a high school student with a voracious appetite for politics and a deep love for the democratic process in the United States. I’ll never forget how excited I was when the vice principal of my high school allowed me to take not one but two afternoons off from school to see Michelle Obama and then-Senator Barack Obama speak in my hometown of Beaumont, Texas.
I remember sitting in my grandmother’s living room hugging her so tightly with tears streaming down my face when NBC News anchor Brian Williams announced that Barack Obama would be our 44th President of the United States. I’ll never forget President-elect Obama proclaiming, “Change has come to America.”
In the last seven years, America has changed profoundly for the better because of President Barack Obama. When President Obama took office in January 2009, America was losing 800,000 jobs a month. In the last 70 months, businesses have created over 14 million new jobs. When President Obama took office, over 40 million Americans were living without health insurance, just one illness away from disaster. Now, 17 million Americans have the coverage they need thanks to the Affordable Care Act.
That’s just the beginning of the progress we’ve made. Under President Obama, America has come much closer to being a place that extends opportunity not just to a select few but to people like me. President Obama, in his words and his actions, has consistently sent the message that LGBTQ people, immigrants, African-Americans, Hispanics and Latinos, Asian-Americans, women, and other traditionally marginalized people have a stake in this country and that we deserve a place at the table.
I could not be more proud to say that my very first vote was cast for President Obama on November 6, 2012.
I’m proud of the work he’s done to bring America closer to living up to its promise as an inclusive society where everyone has the chance to live up to her or his potential.
One year from today, President Obama will end his term in office. This November, we will vote for the 45th President of the United States. I want that president to protect the progress President Obama has made in the last seven years. I believe that president needs to be Hillary Clinton.
I believe Hillary Clinton will be the fighter and the champion Americans need to continue building a society that’s based on inclusiveness. Too many Americans are struggling because their paychecks aren’t growing along with the economy. Hillary Clinton has a plan to raise wages by encouraging profit-sharing, enacting paid leave, and raising the minimum wage.
She’ll also offer solutions to problems that don’t make the headlines but have tremendous impact on regular Americans like the lead-poisoning crisis in Flint, Michigan and the opioid epidemic that is ravaging the lives of Americans of all backgrounds. She will do what it takes to end the era of mass incarceration that disproportionately hurts African-Americans. She has proven over and over again a willingness to listen to the problems of Americans and then to craft specific and comprehensive plans to address them.
Republicans are fighting with everything they have to ensure that minorities are prevented from exercising their constitutional right to vote. They don’t even acknowledge the epidemic of police violence that has taken the lives of far too many, particularly minorities, in this country. Republicans are fighting tooth and nail to strip back marriage equality which is the law of the land. They are doing everything they can to keep women from making their own choices about their own health and bodies. Republicans are giving their all to ensure corporations and the most well-off in society get to write their own rules while the middle and working classes struggle without the same breaks that Republicans want for America’s wealthiest. Worst of all, Republicans have tried over fifty times to repeal Obamacare.
That’s not the country I want to see and I believe Hillary Clinton has the strength and experience that comes from fending off 25 years of vicious partisan attacks against her by the Republicans. Her 11 hours of testimony before the Benghazi committee last fall demonstrate that she can give as good as she takes.
We live in a time of divided government and that’s not likely to change with the next president. Hillary Clinton has the experience to forge consensus on solutions to America’s most pressing problems that comes from 8 years as First Lady and 8 years as Senator from New York. When cooperation isn’t forthcoming from the Congress — they’ve become pretty good at the withholding part — Hillary Clinton will have the creativity and knowledge necessary to use the powers of the Executive branch to make necessary progress just as President Obama has done the last six years.
Hillary Clinton will bring not only experience and resilience to the Oval Office but also compassion for the most vulnerable in society and an abiding faith in this country. I am one of the 8 million kids who received health insurance from the SCHIP program Hillary Clinton championed and helped pass in the Congress when she was First Lady. And, when she was Secretary of State, I had the chance to see her speak at an HBCU Foreign Policy Briefing at the State Department which deepened my passion for the study and practice of international affairs and encouraged me to gain my own international experience which I did studying for a year in college in Istanbul, Turkey.
I believe Hillary Clinton will secure and build on President Obama’s legacy at home and abroad. She will have the experience needed to protect America from threats like ISIS without engaging us in needless and destructive wars. She will use every tool America has to preserve our standing in the world and forge coalitions to address global problems like the dire threat of climate change. She’ll project American strength abroad by cultivating a strong military but also by utilizing the economic power we have and the dedication and expertise of our nation’s diplomats in the Foreign Service and USAID.
Finally, it’s time we recognize a woman’s place is in the White House. Hillary Clinton is not just any woman but the right woman to lead our country in facing the challenges ahead. She reminds me so much of the women in my life like my grandmother. My grandmother is a woman who is tough but tender. She’s a woman who has fought unimaginable challenges in life to make mine better. I see those qualities in Hillary Clinton too. She is the grandmother everyone needs and she is the president this country deserves. That’s why I’m with her.