Only One Candidate Stands for Progress

Ziya Smallens, Contributing Writer

It’s no secret that many Oberlin students voted for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Primary. Many remain skeptical of Hillary Clinton, citing an inability to trust her. I respect the instincts of my peers, but in today’s media climate, the facts struggle to break through the noise. In scrutinizing Hillary Clinton’s legacy and the state of the Democratic Party, a progressive record rings clear.

Donald Trump stands as an affront to every value we aspire to as Americans, Obies, activists and allies. In facing such a threat, the easy answer is to grit your teeth and vote for the candidate who is perceived as the “lesser of two evils.”

I could settle for this distinction, but it isn’t the reality of the decision that stands before us.

A vote is not a rubber stamp; it carries so much more than the approbation of some name on a ballot. In the voting booth, you are imprinting your vision for the country, for our collective trajectory. This decision is made under the banner of every last one of us, including the prosperous and the oppressed.

In her 30-plus years in the spotlight, Clinton has, at times, advocated for policies that don’t align with my politics. In acknowledging this, I also realize that the political timeline is relative: norms shift, our culture evolves and the electorate wades in new directions. Our candidates evolve along with it.

Rather than pinpointing a politician’s particular position at a single point in time, it is far more fruitful to scrutinize the enduring threads of their legacy.

With Hillary Clinton, that’s pretty simple: children and families.

Whether as a recent law school graduate at the Children’s Defense Fund, a first lady taking unprecedented steps to establish the Children’s Health Insurance Program or a presidential candidate putting paid family leave at the top of her platform, Hillary Clinton has always served our families first. At each juncture of her career, she has worked to protect this precious demographic.

Beyond her personal record, take a glance at the Democratic Party’s platform, where the legacy of Bernie Sanders rages on. From top to bottom, it is the most progressive major party platform in American history. As the standard-bearer of the Democratic Party, Clinton champions the call for debt-free college, an end to Wall Street’s recklessness, comprehensive immigration reform, a living wage, a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United and an end to mass incarceration. This isn’t pandering. Studies indicate that parties vote in line with their platforms more than 80 percent of the time.

Voting is a moral choice. The presidency is both a personal and political office. It is not enough for you to roll out of bed, grit your teeth and check the box on the ballot. Spend the little time we have left in this election bringing your values to the foreground; embrace your own vision for our country. Find the points of intersection with Hillary Clinton and the Democratic platform, and build from there. Come to the Ohio Democratic Party’s Oberlin office at 5 S. Main Street and ensure that your values are reflected in our Party.

We’re working every day and our work is only as resilient as the breadth of our message. With your voice, we stand a more formidable force. We stand stronger together.