Why Hillary is Our Pro-Democracy Candidate
Young people have a passion for democracy and campaign finance reform, yet they are the most skeptical and unlikely group to vote on election day. If young progressives care about these issues, they cannot choose not to vote. Secretary Clinton is the most qualified presidential candidate to bring about the reform progressives want to see.
Young progressives voting in what may be their first presidential election are concerned with the current and future state of American democracy. Corruption, the influence of big money in politics, and Citizens United are the issues that drove hundreds of thousands of first-time voters to the polls during the primary. I, too, have been a fervent advocate for campaign finance and election reform, having been on the frontlines of the Occupy Wall Street movement and most recently in Democracy Spring, a nonpartisan people-powered movement aimed at getting the influence of big money out of politics.
Thousands of individuals from these pro-democracy movements flocked to Senator Sanders’ presidential campaign as I did because he represented a leader who went against the conventional grain of U.S. presidential politics. Secretary Clinton, on the other hand, played the game as President Obama and his predecessors have: accepting the status-quo contributions and speaking on behalf of the conventional Democratic ticket. However, with Sen. Sanders’ endorsement of Sec. Clinton (including his assertion that “The Democratic Platform Committee… produced, by far, the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party”), progressives need to realize that they should vote for Hillary Clinton to continue the revolutionary fight for democracy reform. If nothing else, progressives need to vote for Hillary to ensure that the progressive candidates they elect to local and Congressional office can have a chance at reform.
Although the candidate that represented democracy reform in the spotlight lost in the primary, Clinton has responded with vigor to majority demands. Vowing to restore American democracy, she has included in her official campaign platform an agenda to propose, in her first 30 days in office, “a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, signing an Executive Order requiring federal government contractors to fully disclose all political spending, and establishing a small donor matching system for presidential and congressional candidates.”
The alternative is a Trump legacy, which ignores the issue of campaign finance reform entirely. On his platform, Donald Trump sites his self-funded campaign as a reason why he is against special interests—meaning not that he is an advocate of democracy and election reform, but just that he considers himself wealthy enough to run for the highest office in the world without any political or moral legitimacy. Given that Trump can’t even be honest about the nature of his campaign’s funding, prospects for change seem slim.
The next president of the United States will also fill at least one and possibly up to four vacancies on the United States Supreme Court, thus deciding the fate of our judicial system. Like Sanders, Clinton is committed to undoing the heinous ruling in Citizens United v. FEC and mending the wounds that corporate and special interests have inflicted upon our democracy. She will appoint “Supreme Court justices who understand that the Constitution protects citizens’ right to participate fully in the democratic process and that decisions like Citizens United, which upended campaign finance law, and Shelby County, which gutted the Voting Rights Act, are not good for America.”
Trump, on the other hand, will appoint fiercely conservative justices who have zero interest in pro-democracy reform and election finance issues, not to mention the immediate denial of a woman’s right to choose, harsh provisions on individuals who identify as LGBTQ+, continual disenfranchisement of millions of African Americans, and strict immigration laws that would ensue if a Trump presidency were realized. These—not progressive reform—will be the priorities of a Trump judiciary.
But electing a president who values campaign finance and election reform can only do so much. The votes and actions of progressives on Capitol Hill and in local offices around the nation have the real power to dismantle the legislative framework that has allowed for rampant corruption in Washington and hold officials, including Hillary Clinton, accountable. That is why progressives should vote for Clinton as well as Congressional and local candidates that most closely represent their interests on Tuesday. Officials at the local and state level have the ability to draft and vote on legislation to bring about reform. Electing candidates that represent the progressive spirit will have a revolutionary impact on the establishment in Washington. And if Congress is willing to put up a fight, Hillary Clinton will have to prove her commitment to the majority by signing on to this legislation, as she has pledged to do in her campaign.
Young progressive thinkers and voters must never give up the lifelong fight for a more equitable and just democracy, however hopeless the political system may seem. As we’ve seen this election season, people who sit-in and speak out have the power to influence the course of history; the steps the Democratic Rules Committee took on during the DNC to reform the superdelegate system proves that grassroots movements can influence the trajectory of the political establishment. There is only one candidate this election season that can defeat the bigotry and misogyny of Donald Trump and help restore a people-powered government. She may not have been the candidate you were hoping for in the primary, but Hillary Clinton will pave the path forward for the political revolution that we all have a duty to see through.
TL;DR If you want progressive change in Washington, show up this Tuesday by voting Hillary.
The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of other Arbitror contributors or the views of Arbitror itself.