Just a week after the 2013 municipal elections here in New Haven, a group of Yale students started a campus branch of the national “Ready for Hillary” movement. At the time, I wrote a column (“Not Ready for Hillary, Yet,” Nov. 15, 2013) arguing that organizing so soon before the 2016 election both hurt Clinton’s national chances at success and, more importantly, detracted from the crucial midterm elections that Democrats went on to lose by wide margins.
I maintain those criticisms today, and I’ll go further to say that the only real accomplishment of the entire Ready for Hillary operation was handing the Clinton campaign a Twitter handle and lengthy email list.
All that said, it is now time for Democrats, progressives and liberals of all stripes to unite behind Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination and the 2016 general election.
First, let’s get one thing out of the way: Elizabeth Warren has zero interest in running for the presidency of the United States of America. And truthfully, we should be glad she isn’t running. The White House would stifle her voice in a way that the halls of the Senate cannot. In her safe Massachusetts Senate seat, she is able to fill Ted Kennedy’s role as the liberal lion of the Senate and act as the strong, beating heart of the Democratic Party. She can rail against Wall Street unfiltered and pass progressive policy out of the Senate to tackle student loans, banking regulations and safegaurd workers’ rights. In the Oval Office, she would be forced to put together a center-left coalition strong enough to win election and re-election in a way that did not alienate down-ballot Democrats in more conservative states like West Virginia and Kentucky. All of this, if she even wanted to run.
Second, if the last week is any indication, Clinton will go down as one of the most progressive presidents in American history. Already she has called for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, federal marriage equality and potentially an education policy more pro-teacher than Obama’s. And most importantly, her campaign is almost singularly focused on reducing the income inequality that has spread like wildfire in the post-recession recovery.
Third, forget what the critics say, the fact that she is a woman is a completely legitimate reason to rally behind her. I would not select a candidate solely because of her gender (hello Sarah Palin), but it is foolish to believe that having 43 subsequent white men as Commander in Chief did not take a severe psychological toll on generations of Americans and mold our culture in a way that legitimized the opinions of men over women. Gender only doesn’t matter to those who have been privileged enough to live without its constraints.
Even if none of the above were true, that the next president of the United States will ultimately determine the balance of the U.S. Supreme Court should seal the deal for every liberal in America. Nearly every major issue progressives care about — healthcare, marriage equality, campaign finance and reproductive rights, to name just a few — has had to endure attacks from an activist conservative court. Clinton stands alone in her ability to crush her Republican opposition and secure nominating power for the next four to eight years. We are blessed to have a candidate this cycle with sky-high name recognition and a fundraising prowess that will be next to impossible to beat. Democrats have not had three successive terms in the White House since Harry Truman was in office … in 1953. Our ability to make lasting change to the judicial system is reason alone to unite behind Clinton now.
Should other Democrats run? You bet. In fact, a Democratic primary with positive debates about policy will help both Clinton and the Democratic Party as a whole. But bashing Clinton before she has a chance to lay out a bold progressive agenda on inequality helps no one but the Republican Party.
Ultimately, however, Clinton deserves our energetic support. It’s hard to overstate just how transformational a Hillary Clinton presidency and a third term for Democrats in the White House would be for our country. And Republicans know it. Both the GOP and the Koch Brothers will spend the next 19 months lobbing everything they’ve got at us, and we need everyone on board if we are going to survive the onslaught of coming attacks.
So, yes, I’m now ready for Hillary. And I’m going to spend the next year and a half doing everything I can to give her the fuel she needs to break through that highest glass ceiling. I hope you’ll join me in what will prove to be an historic ride toward fundamentally changing our country for the better.
Tyler Blackmon is a junior in Jonathan Edwards College. His column runs on alternate Tuesdays. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .