Hillary Clinton earns our endorsement for President

The post-war America that today’s college students grew up learning about was one built on the successes of factory workers — hard-working Americans who bought homes and provided for their families while their nation and standard of living steadily grew. Many of our parents and grandparents were responsible for that growth — or were able to seize the opportunities it created. 

Today, many Americans feel as if hard work alone can no longer guarantee success. The jobs that built America have dried up in many of the manufacturing cities that once housed a thriving American middle class. The income gains that have been made have been felt by a decreasing number of people. A record number of people now feel as if we’re on the wrong track.

But we know better than to rely on feelings alone. During our economy’s transition from exporting goods to exporting ideas, our status as one of the wealthiest countries in the world has held steady. Inequality is falling. For students like us, there is no better place in the world to be getting an undergraduate education right now. 

Universities like ours have replaced factories as the driving forces behind America’s success. Now more than ever, we have to choose a president who is ready to invest in our success. And the only candidate we can entrust that responsibility to is Hillary Clinton.

The cornerstone of this is her plan to invest $350 billion to eliminate tuition at public universities for students whose parents make less than $125,000 a year. While the details of this plan are as of now unclear, these are the sorts of goals we support in order to guarantee the success of college students going forward.

Likewise, her plan to spend $275 billion on infrastructure would certainly create jobs not just for laborers, but for those tasked with designing, maintaining and monitoring new technological systems. 

All told, Oxford Economics predicts that her plans lead to a modest improvement on the current GDP growth rate, allowing us to continue to add jobs at a steady pace. And her tax plan would help to ensure that growth can be invested in helping those who need it to get off their feet and maintain future growth. 

The essential promise of a Clinton presidency, and the departure from the 1950s that we need most, is guaranteeing that every child born in this country can share in the success.

In advocating for community-based policing efforts and working to end mass incarceration, Clinton offers a path to guarantee black Americans aren’t shut out of the successes America guarantees. Fixing implicit bias won’t happen overnight, but committing $1 billion to training programs that improve policing is a crucial step.

Clinton is a vocal advocate for paid family leave and has detailed a plan which includes 12 weeks of family leave for both father and mother, with each having a protected income of at least two-thirds their normal income during this time. This plan would help break the historical cycle of new mothers being pushed out of the workforce and promote healthy family relationships. 

However, even more equalizing than Clinton’s plan for paid family leave is her stance on equal pay. In a workforce that is comprised of 47 percent women, it is vital we close the gender wage gap — not only because it will boost the economy, but because it is 2016 and women unquestionably deserve complete systematic equality. 

In making this decision, we have a responsibility to think about those who are unable to vote in this election but are affected by it. Our international students would be able to sleep at ease knowing that relations with their home nations will remain intact and that their family who may be dissidents will be fought for. And her advocacy for a path to citizenship for undocumented students is especially important here at UT, where hundreds of students would benefit.

This responsibility also extends to future students who will have to live with the worsening effects of global climate change. Global temperatures are continuing to rise to dangerous levels, and protecting the planet has never been more important. As a world power, the U.S. must have a leader inclined to fight climate change and other environmental issues. Clinton acknowledges the effects greenhouse gases have on our climate and strives to increase our use of renewable energy and reduce pollution — albeit with less fervor than we’d like. 

We have confidence that as president, Secretary Clinton would work to ensure that every student has a chance to succeed. Even in cases where we may have policy disagreements with her, she has shown herself to be amenable to change over time and has moved toward more progressive stances. 

At this critical moment in our lives, it is key that we work to elect a president prepared to fight for us. Clinton’s tireless work throughout her career and campaign has earned our absolute, unwavering endorsement. We look forward to calling her our president next January.

Donald Trump uniquely threatens nation’s prosperity

On the other hand, Donald Trump has done everything imaginable (and much we never could have imagined) to guarantee he wouldn’t earn our endorsement.

At the start of the primary season, very few guessed that months later, reputable national newspapers would be spending time debating whether or not to endorse Trump. But despite the utter lack of seriousness on policy Trump has shown in the past year, that is exactly what we are tasked with.

Before we could even discuss his policies, we have to deal with Trump’s unprecedented capacity to lie at nearly every turn. Whereas most politicians have specific, decisive moments to point to, Trump lies often enough that it is possible to forget some of his lesser offenses because tabulating all of them in one sitting would be too exhausting. 

What’s worse is that he’s entirely inconsistent on stances and the facts that underpin them. Trump has stood on the record as pro-choice, pro-life, for punishing women who choose to access abortion and not, often changing his mind in a span of only days. He’s both been in favor of increasing taxes on the wealthy and against it. He’s blamed economic conditions on wages being too high and both advocated abolishing and raising the minimum wage. Trying to understand his policy positions requires the same sort of mental gymnastics as interpreting an M.C. Escher painting.

But onto those policy points. 

Regarding the student debt crisis, Trump has proposed reducing government involvement in student loans programs as well as limiting financial aid to liberal arts majors. More than 10,000 liberal arts majors at UT would see a decrease in the investment in their educational success during a Trump presidency.

Following graduation, students could expect a Trump presidency to light their chances of prosperity on fire. Oxford Economics predicts his policies would slash our GDP by 5 percent, plunging us into recession. And as many 2009 UT graduates would tell you, it’s a lot easier not to hire than fire in those circumstances.

A good chunk of those remaining gains would be blown on his plans to build a wall on the Mexican border. And besides the fact it’s completely unrealistic, it indicates how misguided Trump’s immigration policy is. In 2013, it was reported nearly 25,000 undocumented students paid in-state tuition in Texas, so Trump’s plan to “move criminal aliens out day one” would not only be infeasible but tremendously inhumane.

Elsewhere abroad, Trump’s incoherent foreign policy views would have disastrous effects. His threats to withdraw worldwide, or at least extort our allies to pay for our presence, would hand influence to Vladimir Putin, a strongman who has murdered his own people and invaded Ukraine (a point which Trump has either unaware of or willing to ignore). And this represents far less a threat than Trump’s seeming threat to use nuclear weapons, which should be enough to swing this election on its own.

The lasting effects of his candidacy are enough to damage this country’s discourse. His openly racist rhetoric on Mexican immigrants and African-Americans and thinly veiled attacks on women, Muslims and Jews should be disqualifying, as should be his attitude toward disability. 

To think our children’s conception of Commander in Chief would be a narcissistic, selfish, egotistical and easily triggered man-child would represent the destruction of everything that makes America a shining beacon of hope for those who choose to come here. We must rebuke not only Trump himself, but everything he represents and anyone who would choose to run again on the trail he has burned.

Third party candidates offer great risk for no reward

We will recognize the unenviable position that millions of American voters have found themselves in. Despite her qualifications, Hillary Clinton would be the most unpopular presidential candidate in history if not for her opponent. So why should the millions of voters who are deeply unsatisfied with both Clinton and Trump rally behind the second worst choice? Surely there’s a third way? 

In a normal election year, perhaps there would be. In a normal election year, perhaps you could justify voting for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson. But in 2016, coming together to keep Trump’s tiny fingers off our nuclear arsenal isn’t just the best possible outcome — it’s the only morally acceptable one.

There are some situations in which voting third party makes sense, even if the candidate has no chance of actually winning. When two roughly equivalent candidates are equally unappealing, voting third party can be a great way to indicate to both parties that they must do better going forward. Some voters, whether former Sanders supporters or establishment Republicans, may believe that Trump and Clinton fit these criteria. 

Unfortunately, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Hillary Clinton, for all her many flaws, is vastly more qualified than Trump, who seems to utterly lack the knowledge, temperament, ethics and experience to be president.

Some skeptics, even while acknowledging that Clinton is clearly the better choice, might still insist that voting for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein can’t possibly lead to a Trump presidency. Recent history, however, suggests otherwise.

In the 2000 election, Al Gore narrowly lost Florida to George W. Bush by a measly 537 votes. Independent candidate Ralph Nader received 97,488 votes, more than enough to cost Gore both 25 electoral votes and the presidential election — and stew regret in many liberals who flocked to him in the false belief that Bush and Gore were equally unacceptable.

And while the risks involved in a Trump presidency are far greater than Bush ever offered, this year’s options for protest votes fall far short of what Nader offered. 

Green Party candidate Jill Stein has little experience in government and has differentiated herself largely by offering policies that would openly harm the country. Her candidacy has emboldened anti-vaccine conspirators while hiding her ties to Vladimir Putin. She is Trumpism with a different label — and her comments that Trump would be better than Clinton show as much.

The Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson, has built his campaign on a belief in small government and boasts a sensible marijuana policy, but he also threatens to abolish the income tax and offers a similar level of foreign policy ignorance to Trump. While he may be principled, he nonetheless represents a threat to this country’s safety and financial security. 

The stakes of this election are far too high to cast a third party vote in protest. This election year decides whether or not the Oval Office will seat a competent, experienced politician who values the diversity that makes America great or a man whose moral character is even worse than his business failures. Don’t allow your understandable frustration with the two-party system drive this country into the ground. Place your vote for Hillary Clinton.