It caught my attention when Clinton said we needed to repair the opportunities for those at the bottom, of which women and children make up over two-thirds of those in the poverty and near poverty range. I felt my heart lurch to think of starting there, with the women and the children, of all races and genders. In the nearly forty years I’ve been a voter, no one has prioritized preschool over bombs, eldercare over prisons, or maternity leave over corporate dividends.
It’s clearly Primary season in this 2016 race for the office of the president of the United States. The commentary flies. Passions soar. Surrogates for both candidates, official and unofficial, proclaim loudly all the reasons they don’t like the other candidate. I’m riveted by the rhetoric, barely tearing my eyes from the media, the blogosphere, and Facebook. But it was when one woman commented on Facebook, “I’m not for Hillary for policy reasons” that my eyes stopped scanning and might have even crossed and then uncrossed.
Did I read that right? Did she mean the policy that women are humans? Was she referring to the policy that all humans, including women and children, should have a voice? Did she mean the policy that the elderly should not be living in poverty? That no one should have to live in poverty?
Was she talking about the same woman, the one who spoke out in China that, “Women’s rights are human rights?” Was that the Hillary she wasn’t for, for policy reasons?
During the Democratic debate in New Hampshire on February 4, just one candidate on the lectern placed the women and children of this country, women and children of all races, genders, and economic security, at the forefront of her vision for the future. Hillary Clinton’s introduction and closing remarks succinctly framed her dedication to improving the safety and well-being of women and children. Plenty of other woman agree, see this from Madeleine May Kunin, former governor of Vermont.
These social issues are most often prioritized at the bottom of the list for other candidates in this 2016 race to the White House. Even now, after decades of increasing wealth loss for those at the bottom, the strategies for repair of the economy are the same, they start at the top. The thinking seems to be that improving the economy will level the playing field for those who struggle. But, wealth isn’t finding it’s way down to the lower levels of the socioeconomic stratosphere, nor did it even when the economy was better. In the past, those outside the mainstream, white, middle-class world have been the ones who suffered.
Thus, it caught my attention when Clinton said we needed to repair the opportunities for those at the bottom, of which women and children make up over two-thirds of those in the poverty and near poverty range. I felt my heart lurch to think of starting there, with the women and the children, of all races and genders. In the nearly forty years I’ve been a voter, no one has prioritized preschool over bombs, eldercare over prisons, or maternity leave over corporate dividends.
Can you imagine the opportunity that opens if we elect someone so well-versed in what women and children need? What if we elected and followed this woman’s policy instincts?
What if we supported her platform and subjected every policy issue to the test of what would be best for women and children? What kind of child care and maternity/paternity leave would benefit children the most? What kind of housing would benefit women and children?
Would the most beneficial housing be clean, sound, and environmentally safe? How would resources be funneled to create healthy settings for children to play? What conditions would be beneficial for aging women? For their caregivers?
We could guide ourselves by asking one simple question: What will improve the health and well-being of women and children? We already know, that when women and children thrive, so do men.
We could be really radical, and not just promise, we could give every child clean air, clean water, clean food, and a good education, improving the environment in the process? We could insist on high levels of safety and nourishment for our youngest citizens. Insisting on those standards would drive better business practices, including checks and balances in adhering to regulations.
We could quit attacking Clinton for her connections with Wall Street and charge those CEOs with carrying out plans to improve conditions for women and children. Corporations would benefit from economic forecasts for social programs, knowing what to build and the level of need to be filled. We could work our way to a win-win-win. Collaboration and communication with corporations could guide development that benefits women and children rather than development guiding women and children into unnecessary, unwise, or unrealistic consumption.
I’m voting for Clinton because I believe her to be the only candidate who shares my belief that a world safe for women and children can serve as the guide for the domestic and foreign policy of our country. I realize that’s ironic, given this climate of assaulting her for her Iraq vote. But one vote isn’t enough to convince me she has a penchant for war, any more than any other liberal and considerably less than her conservative rivals. In fact she’s smarter than to make that mistake twice, in the same way she’s smart enough to scrap any vestiges of her husband’s welfare policies of the ‘90s and develop a new plan to restore health, education, and opportunity for those pushed out by the system.
Clinton has a long list of positive policy to her credit and she continues to advocate and place women and children in the forefront of her agenda whether or not those issues are dismissed by her opponents as not important enough. But, in case you still need to grapple with her history, please enjoy all the terrible things Hillary has done – in one big list.
I stand quietly letting the depth and breadth of her experience deepen my understanding of her. I reflect on her evolution as a person and as a politician. I applaud her persistence and commitment in the sticky, tangled, and dangerous world of improving women’s conditions throughout the world.
I see in a Clinton presidency my dreams for the future.
Kim Cottrell is an author, educator, and speaker. She blogs at ahealthystepmother.com and is hard at work on a book of tales for stepmothers. Kim writes regularly about self-image, change, and living inside one’s skin. She wants our society to grow a new self-image.
Image via Wikimedia Commons/Veni Markovski/CC License