If You Want Democracy You Must Earn It

I wrote this post A Safe Vote Third Party Candidates and Supporters, and one of the criticisms I received, was that I didn’t really expand on my thoughts about Hillary Clinton.  If you weed through my twitter history, and past the adorable cat pics that make me smile, you will see I haven’t been her biggest fan. I used to be in the 90’s, but she slowly became more conservative, and I let the media’s spin effect my view of her.  She was making paid speeches and aligning herself with Wall Street. At least that’s how it looked.

When I heard President Obama speak in an interview, after his surprising Senate win, I was so impressed.  He was articulate and relatable. He was saying what we should be doing as a nation, and I agreed so much.  Then he spoke at the convention and I was floored.  I had planned to support Clinton’s run for President, until I heard him.  I was pretty excited to have a woman President.  When I was a kid, my family was taking a trip to my grandparents.  You know the car ride.  Kids in the back, parents in the front, and eventually we are singing 12 Days of Christmas, all off key.  I was 10 years old and thinking about what I wanted to be, when I grew up.  I had gone through the phase of wanting to be a ballerina.  Then, wanting to be a veterinarian, but realized I could never put an animal down.  I would be balling my eyes out, and that wouldn’t help the parent of that pet.

Then it hit me.  I wanted to help people, and the best way to do that would be President.  I knew that you had to be 35 to run for President.  So I decided that I wanted to be the 2nd female President.  I knew it would be a while, before we would progress enough as a nation to elect a female leader. At the same time, I really thought it shouldn’t take that long (until I was 35) for USA to have a female President. Now I’m 38, about to turn 39.  This country did not hit my deadline, and as I grow older and more educated, I’m not surprised. It surprised me a lot, when I made the decision to support President Obama, instead of Hillary Clinton.  He was more liberal, than she had become, and I am still happy with my decision.  She became Secretary of State and her resume just became more impressive. I have never been more proud, than getting to vote for President Obama both times. He’s been a fantastic leader, and a role model for our country. His whole family has led by example with grace and dignity.

So here we are, in 2016.  Again, we ended up with a candidate, who was more liberal than her.  I supported Bernie Sanders.  He had this appearance of being squeaky clean, and his entire platform was what the DNC platform should have been; at least in my mind.  Once it became clear that all 16 nominees in the Republican party were so bad, I knew we had to support the Democratic nominee.  Look through those candidates.  Their history in elected office, or lack of resume in public service.  Those that had been in office, had a record of cutting funding for the poorest Americans.  They had rhetoric and history of being anti-LGBT, anti women’s rights (health, pay, etc), anti-climate change, and anti-middle class.  They all want tax cuts, which means we cut funding for those in the greatest need.

Then Trump started rallying the racists and the bigots.  The anti-woman, sexist, misogynistic, hateful rhetoric, that you wouldn’t want kids hearing.  That’s significant.  Growing up, my parents, grandparents, aunt and uncle (small family) all encouraged my brother and cousins to be informed.  We watched debates, listened to speeches and paid attention to candidates for elected office.  These are the people who are going to represent us.  This is the core of our democracy.  Candidates run for office, and We The People are supposed to pay attention, question how they will represent us, and hold them to that.  We are supposed to vote and participate in our government. That is the only way we make it better.  But how are we supposed to pass that on to our kids, when we have to shield them from one of the candidates, because he is so rude, crass, gross and has no respect for the office of the Presidency, or for anyone but himself?  It falls apart, when you have someone like that on a stage with a microphone and media endlessly covering him.

I think of our democracy like dieting.  Cue the onslaught of trolls telling me I’m fat.  Got the memo, and trust me, I’m working on it.  Anyway, our democracy has a parallel to the concept of dieting.  A common problem with dieting, is the mental and emotional approach to a diet.  It focuses on reaching a goal.  That implies that there is an end to the work that has to be done.  Then it starts to feel like you will never be done, with the framework centered around being able to be done at some point.  Health and nutrition, just like democracy, is an organic living thing.  It must be, if it will work.  I got to hear Chelsea Clinton speak once.  She said the same thing I deal with in database application development.  You get out, what you put in to our democracy.  The less we participate, the less our government will represent us and work for us.  Same with applications.  Data in, data out.  If we are lazy with how we participate in our government, our government will be lazy in representing all our interests.  We can blame them all we want, but the onus is on us.

Back to this year’s big race, I had supported Bernie Sanders in the primary.  Eventually, it became clear, that despite the fire Bernie Sanders lit under people to wake up and get involved, he was not going to win the nomination.  I had to come to terms with that, because Trump had locked up the Republican nomination and he was so under-qualified, had such hateful rhetoric, and just seemed to be an over-inflated bigot with nothing more than crappy things to say about anyone but him.  He could not be President, and I had to support the Democratic nominee.  It seemed obvious to me, that either Democratic candidate was miles better than Trump.  But the critics say that we are drinking the kool-aid, if we don’t look at Hillary Clinton and her full resume.

I honestly feel that she has endured criticism that is hypocritical at least, and lacking facts at best.  That’s not to say that I don’t have my concerns.  So let me honestly acknowledge those, and address where I am with them.  I am not a fan of Monsanto, and don’t like how much she has done to endorse them over the years.  I get the difference between GMO’s in creating food vs GMO pesticides.  I’m not a big fan of either, but more of the latter.  I just don’t think there are enough studies of the effects on our nutrition or the planet.  They should be independent studies, and would have to stretch like a decade, to see long term effects. I want required labeling of GMOs.  I know Bernie Sanders would (and will) push for that.  I don’t have the same confidence that she will.

I didn’t like the paid Wall Street speeches, but it occurred to me that I was holding her to a standard that all her opponents aren’t being tagged with.  These guys cozy up to Wall Street, and they are tagging her with that alignment, while doing the same.  I get having qualms, but we should have an even playing field and it is a huge oversight to attack her for the very things Republicans have been doing for years.  That includes how she handled her emails and the deleted emails.  It’s been reported that 33,000 emails were deleted.  The Bush administration deleted 22 million. Trump has been cited for destroying emails and documents that were supposed to be held and turned over in lawsuits he has been the subject of.

So what else are my criticisms, that aren’t a double standard in comparison to her opponents? Minimum wage – I think the minimum wage should be a livable wage, and that congress should be paid the same.  They should only be allowed cola increases, when they give that same increase to the minimum wage.  May seem naive and idealistic, but if everyone voted, and kept voting, we could make that a reality in a few election cycles.  To me, it makes perfect sense.  Bernie Sanders is for $15 an hour, and Hillary wasn’t for that.

I also think that we need to be way more progressive in investing in renewable resources.  Hand in hand with this, we need to stop what is happening in the #DAPL situation.  We must be protecting our natural resources, not bowing to oil corporations and special interest.  We have already seen extreme weather and the effects of climate change.  As the country that is seen as a leader of the free world, I consider it our responsibility to lead on this issue.  We must address our landfills, how we recycle and how we treat our planet.  Endangered animals are on us.  The bleaching of coral reef and the toxic dumping is on us.  Bernie Sanders has always championed this responsibility, and I haven’t seen the same from Hillary Clinton.

Related to that issue, is the rights of Native Americans.  People are crying out, in the Trump campaign, about how we need to stop people from coming into this country.  It’s such an oxymoron to me, as we were not the first here.  We must honor the treaties with the Native American people and they should have a front row seat at the table.  What is happening in North Dakota is atrocious, and it speaks volumes about our humanity and respect for their culture.  We shouldn’t be encroaching on their land, and we shouldn’t be desecrating their sacred burial sites.  It is horrifically sad that we could treat anyone like this, and I really hope we fix this, before it’s too late.  Bernie Sanders is with them, but I haven’t heard Hillary Clinton speak on their behalf.

Education is another area of importance.  I have had this discussion with different people.  I get the frustration that we talk about the idea that college should be free, when people have already had to pay for it.  We want to send people to college for free? I had to sit in on required classes about signing financial aid papers and promissory notes to pay the many student loans I would have, when I graduated.  I had to take a private loan, to get to study abroad.  I worked full time, while earning my undergraduate degree.  I’m still paying my student loans off, and I was relatively lucky.  I had $25,000 in debt, when I graduated.  Why should someone else have it free? Bernie sold me on that pretty quickly, not that it was hard to convince me.  I want equal opportunity for people to get an education.  It shouldn’t depend on your ability to shell out 10’s of thousands of dollars, whether you can get a college education or not.  If our system is built that way, people who come from or already have a lot of money get an advantage over those who don’t, regardless of who will work harder or who is more deserving of that college acceptance slot.

That isn’t wholly popular, but I hope it will be some day.  It is how we can become the country that turns out the best talent, instead of lagging behind India, China, and Japan.  We can choose to educate our population, or focus on letting the money do the talking.  If we do the latter, we will all be morons watching the rich guy spewing hate and not really getting it.  wait….

So I can’t go through every detail of Clinton’s past.  (This post is long enough).  The thing is, that despite the criticisms I laid out above, she is still an incredible candidate.  More newspapers have endorsed her, than any candidate in history.  That isn’t just because Trump is that bad, although he is.  She is that qualified.  She was involved in activism in college.  She was born and raised, wanting to get involved and help.  She’s been doing that despite the obscene level and nature of attacks that she has been subjected to.  She has shattered glass ceilings for girls and women.  The Clinton Foundation has helped millions in need, and has the highest rating from charity watch dogs.  I lifted this from Fortune.com, in case you aren’t aware of the tangible work this organization has done (http://fortune.com/2016/08/27/clinton-foundation-health-work/):

  • Raised $313 million for R&D into new vaccines and medicines;
  • Helped provide better maternal and child survival care to more than 110 million people, and;
  • Provided treatment for more than 36 million people with tropical diseases.
  • Private firms are also in the mix. Biotech giant Gilead GILD 1.25% and the NAACP joined forces to recruit religious leaders in the African American community to help fight HIV/AIDS, which disproportionately affects blacks in the U.S. Medical tech company Becton Dickinson bd , which ranked among the 50 companies in Fortune‘s Change the World list this year, has committed to dramatically cutting the price of CD4 immune cell tests for HIV-positive people across 55 countries.

That’s just a small list of some of what they have done.  The foundation has a global impact.  She has also donated significant amounts of her own money to charities, which includes that money she gets from big Wall Street speeches. You can see that evidence/proof/facts, because she released her tax returns. When people attack her for transparency, I would suggest they look at that difference in the top 2 candidates.

The issues I raised above are concerns, but those concerns are vanishing, as Bernie Sander’s real success has shown. He pushed the entire DNC platform and Hillary’s campaign.  Bernie’s revolution has a seat at the table in her administration.  He made sure of that, when he had the decency and foresight to endorse her at the convention.  He knew we would be stronger together.  Her faults or weaknesses are there, but they aren’t insurmountable at all.  They are workable.  And she is a reasonable person.  No one else can get it done.  No one else will try, as hard and as tirelessly as she will.

You may not be head over heels in love with her candidacy.  I have gone back and forth over the past few decades.  But it is hard to deny that she has an impressive resume.  I said it before, in the previous blog post that I mentioned at the beginning.  I’ll say it again here.  If we take away her name, and call her Joe Conservative Republican, he would have been the darling of the Republican party. Fiscal conservative, deficit hawk, tough, and doesn’t back down.  Wildly successful attorney, US Senator and Secretary of State.  It’s not just a line in a speech. No party has ever had such a qualified candidate for President.

Go ahead and have your issues, but I think she will do an incredible job as President, and to think there is any other option even close to her, is delusional.  Sitting out of this election, or any election, is the most unpatriotic thing an American can do.  People risk their lives to vote in other countries.  Women did, in America, before they forced the door open for women to be able to vote.  The same fight was fought and won for African Americans. That same fight will always be on the table, for our right to vote, and our right to be heard.  If we don’t use it with gusto, we might lose it.

If you have enough time to get a latte, you have enough time to vote.  If you have enough time to tweet on twitter, snap on snapchat, post on facebook, and gossip about reality television, you have time to vote.  This isn’t some boring exercise, where your actions don’t really make a difference.  You can’t control what other people do, and you shouldn’t try to. Every person can lead by example.  Vote and continue to pay attention.  I hope you will consider supporting Hillary Clinton, even if you aren’t all in.  She has the education, skill, aptitude, temperament, and conceptual intellect to handle the job.  She has all of that to hear out opposition, and find a compromise that will best serve the country.

Now as Vice-President Biden said, make a plan and vote!

P.S. if you’re not convinced by my amateur blog post, to vote, please listen to Katie Couric:
Why Every Vote Counts

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