Why We’re With Hillary

by: María R. González

If there is one detail that many South Texas natives can pinpoint, and some even remember, about Hillary Rodham Clinton is that in the summer of 1972, she drove throughout the Rio Grande Valley knocking on doors and registering Mexican-Americans to vote.

“She knew how to talk to just ordinary South Texans,” said Garry Mauro, a long-time Texas Democratic strategist and former Texas Land Commissioner.

Today, her trip to the Rio Grande Valley, which is nestled next to Mexico, is remembered fondly by south Texas Hillary supporters, politicos and community leaders as proof of her loyalty to the Latino community. She knew the Latino vote mattered long before the term “sleeping giant” was coined. She chipped in to help us make our voices heard during a time when the power of the Latino vote was unheard of in the political scene. Intimidation and voter suppression against communities of color was rampant, and many joined the struggle to overcome this one of many injustices. Hillary, the 24-year-old Yale law student and civil rights activist with the long, wild hair and warm smile, joined the fight.

She went undercover to fight segregation in schools. She fought voter suppression. She became a children’s advocate. She helped migrant families. She worked in service of others. She cared.

If there is one detail that we as a nation should be able to pinpoint during this election about presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, it is that she still cares.

Caring for the well-being of others is an underrated trait that tends to be buried in the glitzy grandstanding and showmanship common in political races. But it is an important factor that can mean the difference between what a person says and does. Hillary’s career and experience in public service is unparalleled, and even Clinton skeptics can do little or nothing to dispel the fact that she is the most qualified presidential candidate in modern history. She is not the lesser of two evils. She is a public servant with a long list of accomplishments that mirror her commitment to her nation. She gets things done because she cares.

Hillary’s support for immigrant families and for comprehensive immigration reform dates back to more than a decade. She co-sponsored the DREAM Act in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006. She also co-sponsored Senator Ted Kennedy’s comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2004, 2006, and 2007. If this is an indication of her resolve, she won’t stop working until immigration reform makes it to both floors of Congress and to her desk for a signature.

On the economic front, she helped the agriculture sector by co-sponsoring the Agricultural Job Opportunity Benefits and Security Act in 2003, 2005 and 2007, legislation that would expand protections for agriculture workers, a major priority for the United Farm Workers.

Her work with the Children’s Defense Fund during the early stages of her career left an imprint in her career in public service that made her a staunch advocate for children and family rights. During her tenure as First Lady of the State of Arkansas, she co-founded Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, and then as First Lady of the United States, she was instrumental in creating and passing the State Children’s Health Insurance Program that today offers health coverage to 8 million children. She also helped create the Early Head Start Program, which offers early childhood education for children from low-income families.

The list goes on and on, but what we’ve described is sufficient to depict the imprint Hillary has left in the lives of those of us who have benefited from her policies and her advocacy.

The drive, dedication and empathy of the bright-eyed, hopeful Hillary who, instead of going on vacation, braved the south Texas summer heat to drive around brush country to register Mexican-Americans to vote are her greatest strengths. These strengths are behind her dedication for the people that she has served.

Hillary kept returning to South Texas, to McAllen, Brownsville, Laredo, and by first-hand account, she is received with the warmth and respect of an old friend. This is what a public servant who cares about her country does. She shows up, like she did in South Texas and for Latinos throughout the rest of her career, and she gets things done. And oh, she has the policies, and friends, to prove it.