The jousting has only just begun among the 15 Republican presidential candidates about emails, Benghazi, abortion, immigration reform, and the Democrats’ leading candidate, Hillary Clinton. The former senator and First Lady declared her candidacy on April 12 and has since raised more than $60 million. Although she has Democrat opponents, Hillary leads the field in fundraising and organizing field operations.
I have been a supporter of Hillary Clinton from the beginning of her first run for president in 2008. She embodies a combination of experience and skills, while representing the progressive values approach to policy and governance, traits I recognize from my own history as a public administrator and elected official.
Voters are tired of a do-nothing Congress. They are looking for a presidential candidate who has a history of accomplishments and can provide leadership in Washington.
Hillary Clinton has had a results-oriented career in public service. From advocacy, to initiating and facilitating the passage of public policy, to international diplomacy, Hillary has covered a range of public issues on all levels of government. Hillary Clinton is qualified to lead and govern the U.S., but what must she do now to stand out in this large field of candidates and win the 2016 election?
Hillary has a long history of working on issues that affect women and their families. A winning strategy would be to declare her support for a national policy that will advance, provide and protect women and families in the workplace. This would include economic equality and family benefits in a single program. The need is there and so is the constituency.
The Arkansas Years: 1974-1992
From her years as First Lady in Arkansas to First Lady of the U.S., Hillary has fought for issues that would improve the lives of women, men, and their families, bringing them to the “forefront of policy.” She cofounded Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families (AACF), whose mission is “to ensure that all children and their families have the resources and opportunities to lead healthy and productive lives and to realize their full potential.”
AACF continues to be a presence in Arkansas, working to improve the lives of low and middle-income families, including “access to high-quality preschool programs, affordable health care coverage, a tax system that benefits working families, and juvenile justice reforms.”
In 1982, Hillary was appointed chair of the Arkansas Education Standards Committee by Governor Clinton with the goal of reforming the state’s educational system. Her proposals for reform included “boosting course offerings, reducing class sizes and implementing testing requirements for both teachers and students.” These reform efforts brought the state’s education level frequently to “as high as fifth in the nation.”
In an August 18 article for Huffington Post, Scott Conroy writes how Hillary Clinton effected change in Arkansas and created a legacy for families and children that exists today. She went on to other achievements nationally and internationally, but Hillary’s work began in her Arkansas community.
First Lady of the U.S.: 1993-2001
During Bill Clinton’s first term as president, the attempt at health-care reform failed. Determined to move forward, Hillary worked with Senators Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch to create a health-care program for children called the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP.) It was approved by Congress in 1997 and is jointly funded by states and the federal government.
As a result of CHIP, health-care coverage has been provided for “more than 8 million low-income children” and the uninsured rate for children cut in half. Coverage was both “primary and preventive” and included dental as well as special needs care.
Despite pressure to stay home, Hillary Clinton attended the 1995 U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. She spoke powerfully about issues facing women and girls and declared “human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights, once and for all.”
Hillary’s speech resonated with delegates from 180 countries and her eloquence is remembered after 20 years as one of the most powerful messages quoted in the contemporary women’s movement.
U.S. Senate: 2000-2008
Elected to the U.S. Senate in 2000 from New York, Hillary continued her work on CHIP, “introducing multiple bills allowing states to expand the program.” She also cowrote a law requiring drug companies to conduct safety tests for children’s medicines.
After the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, along with her New York colleague Charles Schumer, Hillary lobbied President Bush for “$20 billion to rebuild New York and provide health care for first responders.” Bush agreed.
The 9/11 legislation provided $1.8 billion over five years to monitor and treat injuries stemming from exposure to toxic dust and debris at Ground Zero. Nearly 60,000 people were enrolled in health-monitoring and treatment programs related to the 9/11 attack. The measure adopted also set aside $2.5 billion to add to the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund for five years to provide payment for job and economic losses for victims of the attack.
An additional focus of Hillary’s efforts was military service members and veterans. Often working alongside Republicans, she introduced legislation to improve their health-care access and financial support, and she sponsored a bill that would give veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars better “financial and educational opportunities.”
Secretary of State: 2009-2013
Appointed by President Obama to be Secretary of State, Hillary worked to rebuild America’s reputation after the Bush administration damaged our standing among international powers. During these years, she logged almost a million air miles and visited 112 countries, building relationships with leaders around the world.
In her bio, Hillary describes her agenda as a “champion for human rights, internet freedom, rights and opportunities for women and girls, LGBT people, and young people all around the globe.” When meeting with citizens in town hall meetings and speaking directly to local and international media, Hillary used a people-to-people form of “soft” diplomacy.
In a 2010 interview, Hillary said, “My big-picture commitment is to restore American leadership and everything I have done is in furtherance of that.” Princeton scholar, and former chief planner for Hillary, Anne-Marie Slaughter believes she did that by building relationships America “can call on in a crisis.”
With this record of accomplishments behind her, can Hillary be elected to the presidency? On the campaign trail, Hillary talks about areas she sees as the critical challenges of our times, including “economic inequalities and the health and well-being of our families.”
From her years of public service it is clear that Hillary Clinton is committed to doing what will move our country forward. Now is the time for Hillary to take her knowledge and experience working for women and families to the next level and make them a priority in her campaign.
The issues of wage increases and family benefits are not distinct but inextricably connected if families are to advance economically and to maintain a sense of security. Economic growth must include family programs such as paid family and sick leave, equal pay, affordable, quality childcare, and universal preschool.
As President Obama said in his State-of-the-Union speech this year, “we are the only advanced country that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers.” The Department of Labor reports “more than 30 million of America’s working families have young children.” These are the voters that could drive Hillary’s campaign to victory
On her web page, Hillary is quoted: “When women are held back, America is held back.” To win, she must do what no other presidential candidates have done: declare her agenda to include economic equality and family policies as one program. This will benefit all American families.
Susan Rose, former executive director of the Los Angeles City Commission on the Status of Women, served eight years on the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors and is a board member of Antioch University and Emerge California, an organization working to help women achieve elected office.