April 19, 2016

LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Why We Support Hillary Clinton for President

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To the editor:

The media has devoted quite a bit of attention to Senator Bernie Sanders’ (D-Vt.) strong support among young people. As a group of progressive student leaders on campus, we want to take the time to explain why we plan on voting for Secretary Clinton in the New York primary on Tuesday.

Underpinning Clinton’s campaign is a keen and focused understanding of what it means to put together a platform. We hold candidates accountable for what they say they’ll accomplish if elected, which is why it’s so important that a candidate’s platform and positions be fundamentally grounded in reality. They don’t propose ideas in the context of a political system as it ought to be, they work through the system as it is, all the while striving to make the system better.

This is they key difference between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders — Clinton doesn’t make promises she knows she can’t keep. Clinton understands that it isn’t right and it isn’t honest to promise free healthcare and free college when there are political realities that contort these proposals into pipe dreams. Even the most optimistic projections show the Republican Party retaining control of the House of Representatives in the next Congress. In a Republican-controlled Congress, Sanders’ single-payer healthcare plan and college affordability plan are dead on arrival.

As Democrats, we all share the same goals. We want to see more people have access to affordable healthcare. We want to empower people that might otherwise be unable to further their education. We want to address systemic racism by reforming the criminal justice system in a way that ensures everybody is treated equally regardless of what they look like or where they come from. But we also know that change doesn’t happen overnight. If we want to enact real change, we have to be pragmatic. We have to be honest.

Over the course of this campaign, Clinton has had her record as a progressive called into question. Her integrity. Her support from the “establishment.” Never mind that Clinton and Sanders voted the same way 93 percent of the time while serving in the Senate. Never mind that when Senator Sanders was asked to name a single vote influenced by donations Clinton received from Wall Street, he couldn’t. We reject these attacks through innuendo wholeheartedly. Which isn’t to say that Clinton has never made a mistake — far from it. But these phony attacks not only distract from the issues, they undermine the value of debate.

We agree that idealism is important in politics. It is important to question the status quo and push for progressive change. However, we cannot allow our ideals to blind us to basic practical truths. Idealism without regard to pragmatism, without compromise, is not a governing strategy. We deserve a president who can get the job done. We deserve more than quixotic rhetoric at the expense of meaningful change. President Obama serves as a reminder of this balance. While his rhetoric is inspiring, he uses it to offer pragmatic policies and goals.

Clinton is unquestionably the most qualified candidate to seek the Presidency in modern history. Her wealth of experience in public service as First Lady, as a United States Senator, and as Secretary of State makes for a distinguished record that speaks for itself.

Our primary goal moving forward is to see President Obama’s legacy protected and built upon. President Obama trusts Hillary Clinton’s judgment. We think you should too.


Billy Bristow ’16, president of the Cornell Democrats

Nate Jara ’16, vice-president of the Cornell Democrats

Elie Kirshner ’18

Millie Kastenbaum ’16

Note: The Cornell Democrats have not yet endorsed a candidate for president.