For most students, Nov. 8 represents the first time we’ll get to exercise our right to vote, which is both exciting and extremely important. And this election season, the stakes are even higher given the intensely polarized nature of this presidential election, and the disparate values of the candidates.
It is traditional for editorial boards from the New York Times to student media to select a candidate to endorse on behalf of their news organizations, and thus The Beacon has chosen to join 100 U.S. news outlets in endorsing the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, for president.
We are well aware that Clinton has made mistakes — like her use of a private email server, which she has owned up to and apologized for — and these things have made many, especially young people, wary of supporting her. But we must stop acting like the choice is between two “equally bad alternatives”. This has created a seriously problematic sense of false equivalency that’s allowed people like the Republican presidential nominee to gain traction in the first place.
But we don’t want to talk anymore about the Republican candidate, who has shamed and attacked women. We don’t want to repeat anymore of his rhetoric that has made whole swaths of people in our country fear for their livelihoods. There’s no use in continuing to speak about his plans for our country, which are based in fear rather than actual political knowledge and experience.
No, because even as an entity entirely separate from the competition with her opponent, Hillary Clinton is a clear choice for President, especially for voters like ourselves whose education at the University of Portland has emphasized logic and morality. Clinton has the experience to assume the role of commander in chief, and her policies will benefit us as college students as well as the country and world we will soon lead.
Hillary Clinton’s “Moving Forward” logo is more than just a symbol — the Democratic Party Platform is the most forward-thinking in history. And while candidates are not necessarily bound to their party’s platform, Clinton worked with her democratic primary opponent Bernie Sanders and other party leaders to formulate the plan, which represents both her views and the party’s vision as a whole. Thus, the platform would give a Clinton presidency direction and would help the public in holding her accountable for fulfilling campaign promises.
The platform includes plans for addressing the war in the Middle East, reforming the justice system and combatting the opioid epidemic, plans which are informed by and would be made possible thanks to her political experience — as a lawyer, a U.S. First Lady, a U.S. Senator and the U.S. Secretary of State.
As students we can feel distant from these abstract issues when we’re bogged down with homework and just trying to get to class without getting drenched in the Portland rain, but there are also many issues that would have a more immediate impact on our lives and futures.
Many of us, if not most, can understand the struggle of taking on student debt during college, and can at least sort of understand the impact this will have on our post-college lives. Clinton has vowed to make in-state public colleges and universities free for students from families making less than $85,000 per year. The income level would go up by $10,000 each year until 2021, when families making less than $125,000 a year would be able to attend in-state colleges tuition fees. Given that more than 68 percent of college seniors graduated with an average of $30,100 in student debt in 2015, this policy will make it possible for more students to gain the kind of education we are fortunate to have, and take full advantage of educational opportunities without the stress of having to work during school to pay it off.
For students considering starting a family in the years following college, Clinton’s policies will allow for 12 weeks of government-paid family leave to care for a new child or seriously ill family member. Also on the subject of work, Clinton backs legislation that would force private businesses to disclose gender pay data to the government for analysis, allowing women to seek damages for unfair pay discrimination.
Both her plan for family leave and her proposal for reducing student debt she plans to subsidize by raising taxes for the very wealthy, a comprehensive mindset that will lead to greater equity, education and workplace efficiency within our country.
As people who are privileged to be receiving an education, it only makes sense that we should put that education into practice as we fill out our ballots. In her acceptance speech at the Democratic Party Convention, Clinton said, “I believe in science” — and just the implication that we could have someone leading the country who doesn’t is absurd.
The world is on pace to top the hottest year on record, and rising temperatures are major contributors to the natural disasters like Hurricane Matthew that are beginning to seem commonplace. Clinton has said she will continue to follow-up on Obama’s pledge to reduce U.S. emissions of dangerous, heat trapping gas by 30 percent by 2025. She also plans to spend $60 billion on making the switch to clean energy sources. When we talk about how our generation is voting for our future, this issue is truly the pinnacle of that reality.
Over the last several years on campus, there have been a number of student and administration conversations about the benefits that diversity brings to our community, about how to bring students of more diverse backgrounds to campus and make them feel welcome and supported.
This mentality can and should extend beyond The Bluff, and diversity of race, thought, experience, ethnicity and religion should be celebrated in our country. Rather than closing off relationships with other countries, building walls and making people who don’t look or think like us feel unwelcome, we should be seeking ways to bring these people into the working fabric of our country.
Along this line of thinking, Clinton has promised to announce a plan for comprehensive immigration reform within the first 100 days of her presidency. Her overhaul of immigration laws will include a pathway to citizenship, not just an opportunity for legal status. This is only logical, as having large numbers of people in our country who cannot vote, cannot gain the same level of employment or the same quality of education, cannot drive or travel, makes little sense.
The opportunity to vote is a privilege that we are afforded in this country, as is the education we receive that can inform our choices. The Beacon editorial board urges students to think seriously about the choice they make for who will lead our government, our military and our national conversation for the next four years.
We’re with her.