9 Hillary Clinton Supporters Talk About The One Key Reason They'll Be Voting For Her
On the afternoon of last Saturday, June 13, Gary Horton needed some shade and rest after a long day at Roosevelt Island's Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, where thousands of supporters had gathered to listen to Hillary Rodham Clinton deliver her first official campaign address. But Horton's fatigue didn't stave off his infectious energy, which held captive any Clinton supporter who stopped to listen to the 75-year-old El Paso, Texas native's impassioned soliloquy about the Presidential hopeful. And his was just one voice insisting why Hillary Clinton should be elected President in 2016.
Horton, who recognized his own state's regressive stances on everything from health care to women's rights, said — in a charismatic Southern drawl — that Clinton's progressive values are what the U.S. needs, if it has any hope of recovering from the past decisions of Republican leadership in the Senate.
"I was just overwhelmed and proud of her as Secretary of State," he said through tears. "Now, we can't have an impact in Texas, but we'll give money, and we'll travel wherever you need us to go to make sure we win those states for Hillary in the primary and in the general election."
But there were some even in the millennial demographic, one of Clinton's target crowds, who didn't come to the event to support the former Secretary of State, but rather the progress she represents. College student Patryk Rogowski stood near the front of the general admission line Saturday morning but was quick to admit he's not a supporter of Clinton's policies. He just wasn't going to miss what could very likely be one of the first moments to kick off the first American presidency under a female President.
"I'm here for historical reasons," he said, pointing to the hundreds of sleepy but excited folks in line behind him. "This is the first rally for who could be our first woman President."
Throughout the crowd, there was a peppering of women's college T-shirts, from Barnard to Wellesely, to Bryn Mawr, worn by proud women in support of Clinton (Wellesley, '69), a fellow graduate of a Seven Sister college.
And following performances by a rousing feminist Spotify playlist (you bet Katy Perry's "Roar" took top billing), Brooklyn Express Drumline and L.A. rock band Echosmith, Clinton played to the historical value of the moment. She opened the speech with reverence for the park and for the fact that she could stand in a place "with absolutely no ceilings." The Clinton Foundation has its own No Ceilings Initiative to work toward advancing women and girls on an international scale, a goal Clinton said in her address at the 2015 Women in the World Summit "is the great unfinished business of the 21st century."
In her 2008 concession speech, Clinton famously remarked that she and her supporters had made "18 million cracks in the ceiling." This time around, Clinton appears to be aiming to burst through those cracks to the Oval Office. And as if on cue with the Gym Class Heroes song "The Fighter" that played her onstage, Clinton addressed her "Four Fights": economy, strengthening families, focusing on world leadership and "reforming" and "revitalizing" our government and democracy.
Poorti Sapatneker, a UN employee, said she backs Clinton on every cause she champions and that she chooses her stances wisely.
"She has very progressive policies in the foreign policy space," she said. "Education, healthcare, equity issues. She hits all the right notes."
I asked those in the crowd for their own opinions about which issue they thought was the most important to ensure that we see HRC's hand confidently raised to swear in at the January 2017 Presidential Inauguration.
"What's the one reason why Hillary Clinton should be elected as our next President?"
David Cirillo, 18
"Hillary Clinton is a candidate who has survived so much history and has come out as a modern political candidate who can stand for equality for all people, no matter their socioeconomic class, gender identity, sexual orientation. She is just a candidate for all people."
James Barclay Ryder, 50
"She’s a strong advocate for women and women’s rights. She’s got a great person to sound out to when she comes home from work and talks about her day with her husband. I think she should be our first woman President. There are women who don’t support that — I respect them, but I don’t understand them."
Katie Baisden, 20
Dervon Gordon, 24
"Gay rights. There are still so many places where it’s not legal to be married, and I would like the right to get married in any state. It’s not the only urgent issue, but it’s such an important one, and it’s important that she’s fighting for it."
Madeline Tibaldi, 21
"Obviously this isn’t the only reason, but it’s really time to have a female President. I think it’s crazy that it hasn’t happened already, but I think Hillary has a ton of experience. She has a lot of experience with foreign policy, and I think she will really strengthen domestic policy in the U.S."
Xinni Liu, 21
"I feel like she stands for the normal folks and the underrepresented folks. I think she has a vision of America that is very different of what the other party has, and I think that it’s a very forward-thinking vision."
Frank Colasonti, Jr. 62
"Income inequality. Hillary Clinton’s focus on that would be primary. She’s passionate, compassionate, intelligent, firm. She reminds me of a lot of the women in my family."
Emilie Wilk, 20
"She's awesome. Simple as that."
Gary Horton, 75
"Integrity. Integrity. Integrity. We need integrity in the White House. We need someone who can convince those goofy Republicans to work together with us to get some things done. There was a day in my life when Republicans and Democrats worked together on issues that we needed. We need someone who has the integrity and the leadership capabilities like Hillary to get both sides to work together."
Images: Hilary Weaver (11)