Lu: Ready For Hillary

by Jessica Lu | 11/4/15 6:30pm

One problem with social justice movements that are supported and nurtured by social media is that 140 characters are generally just enough to point out problems — but not enough to propose solutions. I myself am guilty of this — a lot of the time, my columns will identify problems I see without offering a comprehensive solution beyond “this has to change.” But change how? Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton answers this question, and for that reason and more, she deserves to be the next president of the United States.

Clinton understands that it is not enough to change peoples’ hearts and minds. Getting people to believe in equality does not necessarily make it a reality. General public support for marriage equality, for example, effectively meant little until the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges in June this year. Recognition that racism-fueled police brutality is a problem is important, but that alone will not lead to substantive change until legal measures — like body camera requirements — are put in place to prevent continued abuses. Cataloguing the failures of our justice system to adequately address sexual assault cases is important work, but only if it contributes to changes in that system.

We can convince the majority of everyday Americans that each person should enjoy equal rights regardless of their gender, race or religion, but that will not improve anyone’s life until we address institutional bias from within the institution itself. It is possible to point out problem after problem, but unless we find a way to fix them and put the right people in power, all the ink we spill is useless. Millions of hearts and minds can be changed, but if that is not partnered with inspiring policy change, activism is no more effective than a hamster running on a wheel.

The candidate you support cannot just be someone with whom you agree — they must be someone you believe can create the change you want to see. As a self-identified progressive, I feel Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) most closely represents my political beliefs. But I have worked tirelessly to elect Clinton for the past two months because I believe she is the only person who can create the change I want to see, the candidate who will pass progressive legislation rather than simply paying the progressives in the country lip service.

Many people accuse Clinton of being an old-school feminist and of being out of touch, but she just understands that we cannot move onto new battles without finishing the old ones. For example, Clinton focuses on economic issues regarding women’s rights, such as the wage gap between men and women. She recognizes that we never won the battles of second wave feminism. The third wave of feminism may no longer see feminist struggles as purely economic, but we must keep that focus — it may not be as bombastic as other priorities of the women’s movement, but economic success undeniably opens the door to the goals of modern intersectional feminists.

In fact, all parts of Clinton’s platforms do address the goals of intersectional feminism. Fighting for equal pay, for example, will address both the racial and gender wage gap, which is felt most acutely by black, Latina and Native women. Paid pregnancy leave will protect single mothers from risking economic ruin if they can not return to work immediately after childbirth. The eradication of gender discrimination, however, is not just a fight to uplift women. These battles are conducted alongside the fight against mass incarceration, for the rights of LGBTQ Americans and for the rights of all immigrants, documented and not. While the language Clinton and second wave feminism uses is woman-centric, the people she represents and stands to help have multiple identities — poor, Latina, unemployed, transgender and more. She may not use the language intersectional feminists want, but her policy goals are multi-issue and, at their core, deeply intersectional.

Clinton, with her focus on policies pursuing rights for all disadvantaged Americans, represents a change we need. Activists need to turn their words into meaningful, lasting reform, and Clinton’s focused policy agenda and political experience is the solution we need. She does not just call for change, but offers concrete solutions to actually create it.