Democrat Hillary Clinton began her weekend in the fittingly named Raleigh, NC on Thursday, Nov. 3. The event opened with a short introduction by musician Pharrell Williams. He mentioned how shortly before, Clinton had made some commitments as to what should would address if elected into office. The issues discussed included pay equality for women, free public college tuition if your family earns less than $125,000 and addressing the mass incarceration in 1994 by eliminating minimum prison sentences.
While a promise to Williams is by no means a binding contract, these issues have actually been on the campaign’s agenda throughout the race. However, since the two major parties announced their nominations in July, the race has been riddled with rumors, scandals, and personality clashes. It has severely lacked any real discussion on policy or even just statistics, financial figures, or projected dates.
Following Williams, Senator Bernie Sanders took the stage and introduced what now seems like a radical idea: Campaigns should be based on issues.
“In this moment in American history, it is imperative that all of us be politicians, all of us be involved in the political process,” Sanders said. He later articulated that this campaign “must be about which candidate has the experience and vision” to work with the working, middle class, and the families of this country. Clinton affirmed this sentiment later in her own speech: “I truly believe that you need a candidate you can vote for, not just someone you can vote against.”
While it has often been overshadowed by controversy, the Clinton campaign has made a genuine effort to shine light on her proposed policies. So, let’s take a look at those, focusing specifically on the initiatives addressed during the Raleigh rally.
1. Boosting the Economy
Clinton will continue Obama’s momentum of restoring the country’s economy in the wake of the $1.4 trillion deficit left over from the Bush administration. “We understand that while the economy is better today, there’s a lot more that has to be done,” said Sanders, who worked together with the former secretary of state on many of these policy proposals.
In order to create millions of well-paying jobs, Clinton has pledged to invest over $275 billion throughout the next five years into fixing public infrastructures, including roads, and water systems. She is also the only candidate committed to increasing the federal minimum wage and ensuring equal pay for equal work by passing the Paycheck Fairness Act, which gives women the tools they need to fight discrimination in the workforce.
2. Health Care and Medical Leave
One of the pillars of Republican candidate Donald Trump’s campaign is the full repeal of Obamacare, which would inadvertently leave 20 million more Americans without health insurance. Most of his Republican colleagues agree, however Clinton believes that healthcare should be guaranteed to people as a right. Therefore, she will expand the Affordable Care Act, continue to defend reproductive health care for women and fight for 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. Her and Sanders have also developed a plan to confront the top pharmaceutical companies, the five largest making $50 billion in profit, to reduce prescription drug costs.
3. Closing the Education Achievement Gap
“In a highly competitive global economy, this country must have the most highly educated workforce in the world. It is totally insane and unfair when we have hundreds of thousands bright young people who can’t get higher education because their families lack the income,” said Sanders. Affordable education was a major platform that Sanders advocated for during the primaries and now, Clinton is seeing it through to the presidency.
Under a Clinton administration, costs will no longer be a barrier because states will be held accountable to invest in higher education. From the beginning, students from a family income of $85,000 or less will have the opportunity to attend an in-state four-year college or university tuition-free. Clinton is hoping to expand that to families with incomes of up to $125,000 by 2021. All community colleges will offer free tuition.
Her strategy for existing student debt is less concrete, but Clinton has the intention to alleviate those currently struggling through reduced rates and total forgiveness after 20 years. Clinton is also developing a $25 billion fund to support historically black colleges and universities, as well as Hispanic-serving and other minority-serving institutions.
4. Combating Climate Change
Unlike her opponent, Clinton knows that climate change is not a hoax and has very real implications for our future. Within her first 100 days in office, she has promised to push through increased spending on a number of matters – including clean energy. By the end of her first term, Clinton plans to generate enough renewable energy to power every home by installing half a billion solar panels through the country.
5. Racial Justice
Systematic racism runs deep in America and Clinton recognizes that these issues with discrimination are far from over – but that doesn’t mean she’ll stop fighting.
“Here’s what we’re going to do together, we’re going to take on systemic racism with a full commitment and real follow through,” Clinton said, “because we refuse to accept as normal some of what we’re seeing across America.”
This follow through will include mending a broken criminal justice system through the reformation of sentencing laws and policies, plus the restoration of trust between police and communities. Because gun violence is the leading cause of death for young African American men, Clinton is devoted to ending racial profiling by law enforcement, while expanding background checks and eliminating sales loopholes for firearms.
If elected, these policies will all be part of Clinton’s agenda come January 20, 2017. So while yes, it is important to take a hard look at the candidates that will address the issues, it will ultimately be the policies they implement that will change this country for better or worse.
“Make no mistake about it, you can make the difference not only in who you elect but in the agenda that those people will then get to work on,” Clinton said. She then closed her speech with, “Let’s make sure that we not only have a future that we believe in, but one we can help create together and to have it straight once and for all, that love trumps hate.”