Opinion guest column

MIT Democrats for Hillary Clinton

The mens et manus presidential candidate

For this country and for MIT, this election matters. Although none of the current presidential candidates went to MIT, one of them exemplifies both mens et manus — mind and hand. Like MIT students, Hillary is smart as hell. She’s curious and intellectual, but also works hard to take the best ideas and put them into practice. She’s not naturally a social butterfly; she can be awkward and uninspiring in large groups but is famously charming and witty in private. And yes, she’s ambitious. 

It’s not just on style but also on substance that Clinton is better for MIT and the rest of the country than Trump. Consider the area of mental health, for instance, which is at the forefront of many MIT initiatives. Hillary Clinton has bold, specific plans for improving our nation’s mental healthcare system, including providing federal support for suicide prevention and funding research in mental health. In contrast, Donald Trump has released zero specific plans for mental health and has publically insinuated that veterans who suffer from PTSD are weak.

About one third of MIT students are international, and many others have immigrant parents. Hillary Clinton’s detailed immigration plan acknowledges and addresses the problems in our immigration system while treating immigrants with dignity and compassion. Trump, meanwhile, announced his candidacy by degrading Mexican immigrants, and he believes that American-born children of immigrants shouldn’t necessarily be granted citizenship.

For years, MIT has been featured on lists of the most LGBT-friendly colleges in the US. Clinton’s extensive LGBT platform includes extending the protections of the Civil Rights Act to queer people and ending so-called “gay conversion therapy” that demonstrably causes extreme harm to LGBT youth. Hillary went beyond the hot button issues of protecting same-sex marriage and blocking discriminatory “bathroom bills” and fought for transgender people’s rights to have government IDs properly reflect their gender. She is dedicated to the fight against HIV and AIDS, promising to not only protect research funding but also to cap medical costs for those living with HIV or AIDS today. Trump, however, chose a running mate who as Indiana governor signed a bill condoning anti-gay discrimination and who has actively advocated for conversion therapy.

Hillary Clinton’s education platform includes major reforms to student loan debt and college tuition, so that all students, regardless of their background, can experience pulling all-nighters to finish their problem sets. In K-12, she advocates for more social and emotional support in schools to break down what has been dubbed the “school-to-prison pipeline” that disproportionately affects African Americans. She wants to provide every student in America with the opportunity to learn computer science and knows that in order to inspire the next generation of engineers and scientists, classrooms first need to have upgraded science labs and quality Internet access. Trump, on the other hand, has no coherent education policy, other than to repeat the words “school choice” and offer few real details. And as Hillary said in her acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, “It’s not just a detail if it’s your kid, if it’s your family. It’s a big deal.”

The details of each candidate’s platform don’t get much media attention, but it’s precisely policies like these that have the greatest impacts on our lives. Of course, Hillary isn’t perfect. We view Clinton’s establishment ties with concern; many of us supported Bernie Sanders in the primary, and yearn for a world with free college, universal healthcare, and real accountability for the financial industry.

But just saying we want these things is not enough. We need Clinton in the White House to make these things possible, and then we need to keep urging her toward progressive change. Hillary has a proven track record of getting things done. Even today, as politics has become more polarized and Congress more gridlocked than ever, she’s created real change through leadership — not empty bluster, but the act of reaching across the aisle and finding common ground. Through the creation of the Children’s Health Insurance Program in the 1990s, she was able to reach common ground with Republicans to enact a policy that helps millions of children today. And in this election, she has received the endorsements of dozens of Republican officials and commentators that had supported only Republican presidential candidates for decades. While some conservatives may never be fans of Hillary, through mutual respect and listening to one another, the lives of many Americans can and will be improved in her presidency.

Which brings us to this: we want to vote for and work with someone who is dedicated to furthering the progress of the past eight years, someone who has given her life to public service and continues making history. We want someone whose vision for America includes setting pollution standards and encouraging investment in clean energy, lifting millions out of extreme poverty, creating equal opportunity for college-bound students from all socioeconomic backgrounds, expanding the good achieved by the Affordable Care Act, and acting on the critical lack of adequate mental health care. 

We want her to set the tone for America, with dignity and compassion instead of rhetoric that reinforces hurtful prejudice and fear. Although in her decades of public service, Clinton hasn’t always landed on the right side of every issue, her career shows she has always progressed in the right direction. She has moved forward, not backward, and wants to make America even greater than it is now.

Young people now make up 31 percent of the eligible voters in the United States. Our generation truly has the power to steer the country in a new direction. So let’s elect Hillary Clinton, and push her to be the progressive we know she can be. We support Hillary Clinton for President. On November 8th, vote for mens et manus. Or, rather, womens et womanus.

Caroline Mak, Adam Hasz, Davi da Silva, and Elizabeth Han are members of the MIT Democrats.