In 2008, I plunked myself down on the couch with a blank map of the United States my sixth grade American history teacher had given to all of the students in my class. I watched the election with my dad, and used blue and red crayons to color in the states that Barack Obama and John McCain won, respectively. I was 11 years old, and while I didn’t understand much about politics, I was excited for Barack Obama. Although I was excited for President Obama, and think he has done a great job serving our country for nearly eight years, 11-year-old me was a little saddened that we hadn’t elected a female president. Even being merely 11 years old with only a few months of an American history class under my belt, I understood the qualifications that Hillary Clinton possessed. I was ready for her in 2008, at merely 11 years old, and I am overwhelmingly ready for her in 2016, as a 19-year-old university student studying political science.
Many American voters, of all political affiliations, find the current election cycle disheartening. Echoes of “The 2016 election is a hot mess,” “I can’t believe I get to vote for the first time and these are my choices,” and “It will just come down to the lesser of two evils” are heard on college campuses and in family living rooms alike. Personally, I cannot relate. To me, it is as simple as recognizing we have one candidate who is qualified, and one who is not. It is also about recognizing this is such a pivotal time for women in politics, and U.S. history as a whole. Never, in all of U.S. history, have we had one candidate so heinously less qualified than the other.
Even if you don’t agree with her policies, the experience Clinton has demonstrated in her political career thus far deems her an overwhelmingly viable and strong candidate to hold the office of president. She has been a lawyer, a senator, a first lady, and a secretary of state, dedicating her life’s work to bettering the lives of all U.S. citizens, particularly women and children. As president, I truly believe she will bring women’s issues to the forefront, fighting for equal pay, paid family leave, and affordable health care. Further, as a former secretary of state, her work with foreign policy and affairs has proved to be not only comprehensive, but poignant. She has both the temperament and experience to contribute to global cooperation, national security, and peace. It is easy to research and read about Clinton’s life work, easily compiled in the biography of her website. Hillary Clinton is not where she is today by any mistake, and a well-deserved securing of the presidency will not be any mistake, either.
When we view Clinton as “the lesser of two evils,” we reduce her and imply she is comparable to Donald Trump. Besides the obvious gap in experience levels between the two, do we really think someone who perpetrates misogynistic, racist, homophobic, xenophobic, and ableist comments, advocating for policies rooted in these prejudices as well, is equally if not more “evil” than Clinton? This is a man who has spoken openly about sexually assaulting women without their consent, mocked a reporter with disabilities, and has additionally issued multiple heinous comments about African Americans, Muslims, and immigrants. He is not bold, brave, or even flippant. He is simply bigoted and intransigent. His complete lack of political experience, combined with his odious rhetoric and behavior render him completely unfit to be president. Entertaining the idea that both candidates are awful or that a vote for Trump may be reasonable simply because he is running against Hillary Clinton is not productive nor logical, and only serves to undermine Clinton’s success and contribute to GOP smears. While you may not wholeheartedly embrace and support Clinton, perpetuating the ideas that she is equally worse or slightly less worse than Trump are frankly irresponsible and incorrect.
If you believe Hillary is evil because she is married to Bill, note that as it pertains to this election, Bill is not the Clinton running for president. This negates several arguments that attempt to undermine Hillary, when really, it is as simple as recognizing they are different people, with different policies. Bill Clinton is not running in this election, hence his leadership style should not be up for debate. Further, critiques of Hillary rooted in her marriage and relationship with Bill target her personal marital and familial choices, for which she should not be criticized. They are not relevant to the matter at hand, and it quite frankly saddens me that Hillary is having her marriage discussed as much, if not even more, than her qualifications and policies.
If you believe Clinton is evil because of the email and Benghazi controversies, you contribute to weak smears against her. Recall that FBI director James Comey, a Republican himself, admitted that while Clinton was careless, she was not criminal when it came to using a private email server. The hatred Clinton receives for the emails represents rightist political gamesmanship rather than valid and thought-out critiques. While Clinton served as the Secretary of State, it is true that militants attacked and killed a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya. However, Clinton testified, demonstrating both great stamina and remorse, saying she took responsibility and launched reforms as preventative measures for the future. Clinton sat through an 11-hour hearing, testifying intelligently and openly welcoming investigation, just as she did with her emails. Those still wishing to attack Clinton and find criminality behind these issues are reckless and ill-researched.
This election cycle, I am not selecting “the lesser of two evils.” In fact, I do not feel as though I am selecting someone who is evil at all. It is with joy, enthusiasm and hope for the future that I proudly sign my ballot for the most qualified candidate and best change-maker this country has ever seen.