Political endorsements are most effective when the endorsers understand their audiences.
When The Arizona Republic endorsed Hillary Clinton LAW ’73, it violated its longstanding loyalty to the Republican Party. The paper, framing its support around a lesser-of-two-evils argument, argued that while Hillary isn’t perfect, Donald Trump is unacceptable.
USA Today, known for its neutrality, made a similar pitch: they didn’t formally endorse Clinton, instead opting to merely mark Trump as undeserving of support.
Both of these editorial decisions make sense. The Arizona Republic serves a primarily Republican core of readers, and USA Today adorns newsstands across America, catering to a broad cross-section of Americans. To appeal to their readers, these papers had to brand Hillary as “less bad” — a bitter pill, perhaps.
But Yale leans decidedly to the left. Yale doesn’t need to be convinced why Trump is an unacceptable choice for President: most Yalies have already come to that conclusion. His racism and misogyny, his immaturity and incompetence — it’s gotten to us.
So I’m not going to argue for you to not vote for Trump. Frankly, I know most of you will vote for Hillary. But I want you to vote for her not out of reluctance, not because she’s the lesser of two evils, but because she will be an exceptional president.
Hillary Rodham’s 1969 commencement speech at Wellesley College, the first ever given by a student, showed the world two traits that timelessly define her as a public servant. “Part of the problem with empathy,” Hillary said, “is that empathy doesn’t do us anything … [and] the challenge now is to practice politics as the art of making what appears to be impossible possible.”
This was a new way to look at public policy. Hillary took a workmanlike approach to service, recognizing good politics means actually getting things done. And Hillary did that: as First Lady, she fought to launch the Children’s Health Insurance Program: a battle from which most lawmakers, much less first ladies, would have shied away. In the face of brutal opposition, when she couldn’t make a deal for healthcare coverage for all Americans, she did the next best thing and implemented a program that still serves millions of American children. Here’s a woman who could have accessorized her husband throughout his presidency, but she didn’t. Starting from a place of real empathy, she rejected the role she was supposed to play and went to work.
In the 1990s, you couldn’t just re-tweet some quote and then call yourself a feminist. You had to prove yourself. Hillary’s record wasn’t driven by a desire to be a feminist icon — it was driven simply by a proverb she likes to quote: do all the good you can, for all the people you can, in all the ways you can. It was organic, and it was a belief of hers decades before entering the political spotlight.
Back in her 1969 Wellesley speech, on the roles of men and women in America, Hillary said that the gap “wasn’t discouraging. It just inspired us to do something about [it].” This was not a complaint. This was a comment drenched in optimism — optimism that things will change and that change comes from action.
Is Hillary’s policy record, as First Lady, as Senator, as Secretary of State, untarnished? Of course it isn’t. Part of being a progressive means working to actually get things done instead of just talking. Because it’s really easy to talk. It’s really easy to tweet. It’s much harder to make things happen — especially the things that aren’t glamorous and don’t make national headlines.
For an unglamorous example, in upstate New York, Hillary saw the potential for small businesses to flourish, so she launched a cooperative project with local colleges and e-commerce sites to provide technical support and microfinance. And to support that, she fought in the Senate for rural New Yorkers to get improved broadband coverage.
Polling shows that both Democrats and Republicans respect Hillary when she’s not campaigning for something. Hillary is at her best when she’s actually getting things done, when she’s in the quiet moments.
Here is a woman who has a record of putting empathy in action, a woman who doesn’t just talk but works for change. When you vote for her, vote confidently, vote excitedly — vote unabashedly. You’ll be voting for one of the most intelligent, fervent and morally courageous leaders we’ve ever seen.
Emil Friedman is a freshman in Silliman College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Illustration by Julia Shi.