I’m a Young Progressive Inspired by Hillary Clinton

I’M A 24-YEAR-OLD, progressive white male residing in San Francisco, who grew up in Montana, and attended a small liberal arts college in Vermont. According to the status quo I should be a revolution-toting, Facebook-posting, ‘establishment’ decrier.

Spoiler alert: I’m not.

In the 2016 Democratic presidential primary the media has portrayed my generation as the antithesis of Hillary Clinton. They say she’s not exciting, she’s stuck in the past, and she lacks the inspiration to not only win the minds, but also the hearts of voters.

It’s a tired narrative that couldn’t be further from the truth.

I never thought that I would be inspired by a politician like I was with President Barack Obama — especially not with Clinton, who I tirelessly worked to defeat in the 2008 Montana primary. But the past months have revealed something to me: Clinton is a dedicated civil servant who has continually fought to make a meaningful difference in the lives of Americans. Despite a blistering onslaught of personal and political attacks, she has been a driving force behind progress for decades.

Clinton does not illicit the same hope for a unified political system I had for Obama in 2008; but she sparks a similar belief in progressive gains that drove me to work as a field organizer for Obama’s 2012 campaign. While her complex policy and cool demeanor isn’t the making of soaring campaign rhetoric, her continual determination to fight for significant and lasting change is nothing short of inspiring.

Regardless of whom you support in the primary, it’s clear to see that Clinton is the candidate who is most prepared to be president. But young voters argue that experience isn’t enough, and I wholeheartedly agree.

Clinton has more than experience. She has track record for getting things done, a proven history of sound judgment, and a plan to get progressive ideas through a gridlocked political system.

HEALTHCARE is a political battle our country has been fighting for nearly a century, and it’s an issue that isn’t going away anytime soon. For me, healthcare hits close to home because of my mother. Shortly after I graduated from high school in 2010, my parents divorced and my mother moved to New Mexico. Her situation soon took a turn for the worse, as she became unemployed, lost health insurance, and had no money to pay for the coverage she needed. On top of that, she also has a history of Melanoma.

Fortunately my mother and millions of others were lucky to avoid disaster with the Affordable Care Act: while still unemployed, she is covered under New Mexico’s Medicaid expansion and cannot be denied future coverage due to her pre-existing condition. She is one of over 17 million people who have enrolled in Obamacare, bringing the uninsured rate down to roughly 10 percent.

I trust Clinton to ensure that my mother will continue to receive healthcare, despite intensifying attacks from the Right to repeal and defund Obamacare. I also have faith in her vast experience and track record with healthcare policy to accomplish one of her main campaign and lifetime goals — universal coverage. She’s been through the fight before and knows the stakes are as high as they’ve ever been.

Millions of Americans like my mother can’t afford to gamble with their coverage, and entering a battle for a new plan will only end in disaster. It’s not a matter of settling, or lowering expectations; it’s a matter of making sure people like my mother have the lifeline they need.

Senator Bernie Sanders has proposed an ambitious plan that is undeniably appealing in its inclusion of a single-payer system. However, the plan is appealing in name only. Not only will it be dead upon arrival in congress (regardless of which party has the majority), his team has widely underestimated costs. A highly respected healthcare researcher found that most Americans would pay more in taxes than they would save in healthcare costs, which is something neither of my parents can afford.

AS A GAY MAN, Clinton is by far the candidate who has my best interests at heart. Her proposals regarding the LGBT community (ranging from passing the Equality Act to HIV prevention to transgender rights to youth homelessness) are by far the most extensive of any candidate. She goes beyond the lip service of other presidential hopefuls to show an understanding that the fight for LGBT rights is more important than ever.

Clinton’s commitment goes beyond her future plans regarding the LGBT community. Her record shows a leader who has fought for equality on all fronts, most famously marked by her bold statement as Secretary of State pronouncing, “gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.”

Clinton is a champion of LGBT issues because her support transcends rhetoric. She is credited for the first-ever U.N. Resolution on LGBT Human Rights, created Global Equality Fund, ended State Department regulations that denied same-sex couples and their families equal rights, and updated the State Department’s policy so that transgender individuals’ passports reflect their true gender.

Many of Clinton’s detractors argue her dedication to gay issues is disingenuous due to her “late” support of marriage equality — a claim I vehemently disagree with. I, a gay man, was unsure of whether I supported marriage equality before I came out. Am I inauthentic in my gayness? No. My parents and grandmother were “late to the game” in support of same-sex marriage. Are they flip-flopping in their support of who I am? No, they most certainly are not.

President Obama was another whose support came later than public opinion, but when he championed marriage equality in 2012 he was lauded as a hero who had evolved after a long struggle with his faith. Not so for Clinton, who is characterized by her progressive critics as a calculating politician who only changed her mind for electoral gain, despite her opposition to “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” in 1999, support of same-sex marriage in New York in 2006, and the denouncement of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2007.

I BECAME A FIELD ORGANIZER for President Obama’s Campaign in 2012 after his book The Audacity of Hope inspired me to believe in, study, and actively work in politics. I believe his presidency should be considered one of the greatest our country has seen due to the remarkable progress we’ve accomplished in the last seven years in a bleak political climate.

It is because of President Obama that I am a passionate Clinton supporter. By continually improving the dysfunctional pieces of government that are within his reach, he set us on track for continued betterment through the “kind of politics that sustained over the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.” It’s an ideology Clinton has embraced from day one, and will continue to do so throughout her presidency.

Although we’ve seen vast strides since the Bush years, it’s not enough. Clinton promises more of the gains we saw under Obama, but with the approach of a wizened changemaker who knows how to work the system. Under a Clinton presidency I believe we will be able to address the issues that Obama couldn’t, whether it’s curbing gun violence, overturning Citizens United, or enacting comprehensive immigration reform.

When I hear Sanders’ argument, it does not inspire hope. He believes our country is on the wrong track and that the Obama years have done little to improve our lives since 2008. He talks of a revolution to fix the broken American system, and he’s right in many of his talking points — we do need to change the way our campaign finance system works; we do need to aggressively address income inequality; we do need to make college affordable for everyone; we do need make sure that Wall Street’s power is checked.

A revolution is not the answer to these problems. The progress we made under President Obama was not accomplished because he revolted against the establishment. While change was accomplished slower than many of us would have liked, the United States would be in a disastrous situation if Obama had resorted to the absolutism and distain for the American political system that Sanders emanates.

Sanders is a politician just like Clinton. He has run a campaign that has dramatically decreased the lead of a long-perceived frontrunner through strategic planning that sometimes conflicts with his purist image. There are many contradictions in his talking points (he does have the support of Super PACs, he’s falsely portrayed endorsements, and enacts subtle character attacks), but in the big scheme of things it doesn’t matter to me, as a candidate’s policy should be the focus of judgment.

Clinton has better policy. Her plans are not only what America needs, they are also achievable. But the irony lies in the fact that her standards of scrutiny are much higher, and her character is attacked in the process. Many critics make a moral argument against Clinton — she is not a true progressive; she’s corrupted by special interest groups who hired her to give speeches; or ‘she’s a liar’ — all of which are liberal manifestations of a decades-long Republican smear campaign.

If there is a liar in the presidential race it isn’t Clinton. She and her campaign staff knew that ideas like free college and single-payer health insurance would be popular with primary voters. However, Clinton chose not to campaign on unrealistic ideas that would ensure her a victory in the primary. She chose to campaign on policies that will not only make a difference in American lives, but are also realistically within her power to achieve.

I’ve used my head to choose the candidate I’m voting for in 2016, but equally important is the fact that I’ve also used my heart. My heart believes Hillary Clinton is the fighter we need, and I’m going to continue to keep fighting for her.