As a Green Party member, I am well aware that the American people are not seeking the kind of radical change that Green values represent. Thankfully, though, there are still people in the Democratic Party who believe strongly in progressive values, and who practice them. One of those people is Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. When I think of Sen. Clinton, I cannot help but think about the dreadful “family values” arguments that were so popular during the Reagan days, and which are still dragged out by conservatives from time to time. Those values had a lot to do with very outdated (even then) ideas about what an American family is, and with the concept of exclusion. LGBT parenting, “interfering” child protection agencies and progressive education are all anathama to “family values” proponents.
But what about the average family in the U.S., whose parents and/or caregivers need tools to strengthen their children’s physical growth, mental health, educational progress, equal opportunity, safety, and well-being? Whoever provides these tools is someone who believes in real family-oriented values, and that someone–more than anyone else in public life–is Hillary Clinton, and she has been that person for a very long time. Even as a young woman, Clinton provided free legal advice to families, advocated for children through the Children’s Defense Fund, and founded a legal clinic for the poor, which handled child abuse cases. Clinton designed the successful State Children’s Health Insurance Program while she was First Lady, and she also designed the Adoption and Safe Families Act, which finally gave relief to children and adolescents who were forced by an unfair system to spend years going from one foster family to another.
One of her plans, as president, is to get rid of No Child Left Behind, and another is to finally fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA). She also advocates universal pre-kindergarten education for all children.
But it isn’t just her advocacy for children and families that makes me a Clinton supporter. Her civil rights record is superb. Clinton has a 96% NAACP rating, and a 100% NARAL rating. She has pledged to lift the horrific Global Gag Rule as soon as she is in the White House, and she has worked for decades to establish and protect women’s rights. For years, Clinton has been fighting for the development of a Privacy Bill of Rights for all citizens.
I support Clinton because she fights for the rights of veterans. When she was First Lady, she was instrumental in getting attention paid to Gulf War Syndrome as a real problem, and not an unfounded rumor that could be swept away by military officials. She has pledged to restore all veterans’ rights that have been taken away by the Bush administration, and–during her time on the Senate Armed Forces Committee–she has authored legislation that has already improved Iraq veterans’ benefits. It was also Clinton who led the fight to obtain military pay raises and benefits increases, despite the objections of Republicans and the White House.
I support Clinton because she plans to introduce elder respite care to the U.S. and to provide the nation with a health care system for all citizens. And I applaud her for voting to give us the right to sue our HMOs and collect punitive damages.
I’m glad that she wants to tax oil companies to fund energy research, and I like it that she has a League of Conservation rating of 89%. I also support her desire for green-collar job training and for significant greenhouse gas reductions. I am a humane activist, and it pleases me very much that Clinton’s Humane Society rating is 100%.
It is significant that Sen. Clinton wants tougher sentences for those who commit hate crimes, and that she believes that all hate crime definitions should include crimes committed because of a victim’s sexual orientation. And I applaud her decision to concentrate on helping the many Americans who are facing a national housing and mortgage crisis.
Though the news media never talks about it (or a hundred other things), Sen. Clinton has a solid reputation for getting along well with her Senate colleagues, both Republicans and Democrats.
Finally, as a Green, it would be inappropriate for me to not say anything about the war in Iraq. Yes, I regret that Sen. Clinton–and almost all of her colleagues–voted the way they did. But Clinton is now dedicated to getting the U.S. out of Iraq. She voted to limit soldiers’ deployment to twelve months, and she also voted to preserve habeas corpus for Guantanamo detainees.
When I think of a leader, I think of someone who is visionary, tough, savvy, intellectual, experienced, and creative. I think of someone who has proven over a period of time what her values are, and what she does to stand up for them. I think of Hillary Rodham Clinton, who–despite having been humiliated, jeered at, and treated to a misogynistic frenzy of abuse by the news media–is still standing, values and sense of humor intact. And I want her as my president.