One last note before Tuesday’s election….
It should come as no surprise to may of my friends, family, colleagues, classmates, teachers, and pretty much everyone else where my heart lies this election.
It should also come as no surprise that I have strong feelings when it comes to the future of our country and our state. My entire life, I have spent many hours working extremely hard to make life better for those around me. I have worked hard to cut through the noise, make objective observations, and study headlines harder to cut through much of the false information. So it should also come as no surprise why I am pushing for a vote for Hillary Clinton.
Let me tell you a personal story:
During my session of working for the Iowa Senate Democratic Caucus as an intern I got the opportunity to see and do things that had a great impact on myself. I began to understand the democratic process and meet many of the individuals who make Iowa’s government and state better. I got to meet and chat with individuals who were lobbying and hear heartbreaking stories about many of the issues facing Iowans every single day. These stories have been imprinted on me in a way that not many have. With that as the background, one of the most exciting and amazing opportunities I had was to sit in a private, closed-door conversation with Hillary Clinton. Something that I thought I would NEVER have the chance to do. When she walked in with cameras flashing outside the door, I was one of the first people to get to shake her hand. Then she took her post at the head of the table right in front of me.
She talked about her history, how she wanted our support, and what she was going to focus on this election. When she spoke, on a very intimate and personal basis, I knew something was different from 2008. It was as if serving under our current president as Secretary of State had re-lit a flame that she once had. She was power, she was strong, and she was inspirational. She also wasn’t going to back down.
Next came the personal meet and greets. I stood there in line, shaking as our group got closer, holding my book, hoping she would sign it. Then it was my turn, I stepped up and she asked me my name and asked if I wanted her to sign the book I was holding. I was shaking as I said yes and spelled my name. She then asked me another question, what is a problem facing you? The only thing I could think of was saying that student debt is one of my biggest issues. See, I have come a long ways as a student to get where I am and have spent a lot of money. So much so that I personally hit my aggregate limit on my undergraduate loans (that’s over 60k if you are counting). I said that the problem was that student loans are no longer a choice for many students seeking higher education, and that many students remain life-long learners because of the cost of paying such loans back. What seemed like a flash in the pan was probably longer than I thought, but she looked at me and said I am working on a plan.
At this moment, it wasn’t the fact that she had reassured me that she was looking into ways to help students that face a mountain of debt when they leave college. What really shocked me is even though the room was loud, and cameras were outside the room, and tons of people were wanting her attention, she tuned all of that out to ask me what was a problem facing me. That is remarkable. She never broke eye contact and she never once allowed her staff to talk to her during these mini-meetings. She was listening. At this moment, she had locked in my vote.
Now, I am as guilty as any of us. When Bernie Sanders came around, I was intrigued and inspired by his message. I have watched him over the years on C-SPAN and love his progressive message. I understand the flash he has with millennials and the policies he was pushing. I will even admit it, I voted for Barack Obama in 2008, when Hillary Clinton ran the first time for President.
However, as it became clear that Hillary Clinton would get the votes to secure the nomination instead of gloating, I decided I would watch carefully on how she put the party back together with such a contentious primary season full of allegations and hurt feelings. She did exactly what I knew she would do, she listened. She listened to the Bernie supporters and welcomed Bernie in to help build the platform of the Democratic Party. She highlighted him as part of the amazing parts of being a Democrat, and requested his supporters keep her on track.
This is what I love about Hillary Clinton, people say that her views are inconsistent and that she flip flops on issues. I would argue that evolving your opinion is not flip flopping. It isn’t like she said I am against LGBT-rights and woke up a year later and switched her idea. It wasn’t until 2009–2010 that she officially came out in support of LGBT rights and the progressive movement. As a LGBTQ-American, I could choose to be upset and disgruntled by this fact, but as a person I understand and appreciate her ability to examine all the evidence and then make a decision. She isn’t guided by party predispositions, she hears all sides of the arguments and then makes the hard choice.
To my fellow Millennials that may be dismayed. Sure, she may not be the government crushing, anti-establishment, full blown socialized person that you want her to be, but that’s okay. She is a step in the right direction. I would rather continue to step forward, than go backwards and undo everything that we have pushed for. Bernie is asking us to, Elizabeth Warren is asking us to, and the current POTUS and FLOTUS are asking us to… we must support this Democratic candidate for President. We have made so many strides in the last 8 years under Barack Obama and we cannot give up now. We must keep the pedal to the metal and continue to shoot down any legislator that wants to take back the tides of change.
In 2008, the Democratic Party made history and in 2016 they are going to make history again, and in 2024 I would argue that the Democratic Party will make history again because that is the party that we have become. The party of change, the party of tomorrow, not the party of yesterday. We understand as a group that yesterday is gone and all we can do is look to the future.
On Tuesday, get out there and vote and be PROUD of the fact that you have chosen to make history again. I will say it a million times, in an election year all we hear is about the few votes or few decisions that have been bad in a candidate’s history. We all make bad decisions sometimes when the pressure is on and the answer isn’t clear, it is called being a human being. However, the most we can hope for is that we learn from the bad decisions and continue to move on. So join me, join the other millions of Americans who stand against intolerance, hate, bigotry, sexism, inequality, corporations, money in politics, and all those other issues that the GOP is notorious for supporting.
We have made history before and we will make history again!