This election must culminate in a vote for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Yes, her opponent is racist, sexist, misogynistic and xenophobic, but Clinton is a candidate we need to be excited about. She is the most qualified presidential candidate in history, her platform is the most progressive and her career of fighting for those without a voice speaks for itself. Beyond just the vote for the presidency, this election will play a critical role in determining how both the national and state legislatures operate in the coming years.
Clinton has noted that throughout her career, her favorability plummets while on the campaign trail, then skyrockets while actually on the job. She’s a public servant, not a campaigner. Clinton gives long, boring, intricately detailed explanations to basic questions in debates. Her stump speeches are a policy wonk’s dream, but they fail to capture the heart and soul of the average American. She may not thrill crowds like Bernie Sanders or President Barack Obama, but she has a wealth of policy knowledge and political experience, receiving praise from Democrats and Republicans alike for her time serving in the U.S. Senate. She is ready for the job, and nearly all her professional experience thus far has prepared her to lead the nation. From college affordability to investing in infrastructure, from environmental protection to criminal justice reform, Clinton has detailed plans to overcome the incredible challenges our next president will face.
But one race alone will not determine the future of our country, our state or even our community. Democrats have a strong chance to take back the U.S. Senate, and the House of Representatives could be in play as well. Clinton alone cannot pass the sweeping reforms this country desperately needs — Congress must turn blue, too. We’ve seen what a hostile Republican majority has done to President Obama’s agenda, and it’s safe to assume the obstruction and gridlock would continue if Democrats don’t win control of Congress.
We all know the stakes of this election. I would never argue that the presidential election isn’t the most important race on the ballot — especially for this vitriolic election. But even if progressive dreams come true and the White House, Senate and House of Representatives all go blue, much of that may still be for nothing in Michigan if Democrats do not win back the Michigan House of Representatives.
Michigan state government is currently under full Republican control, and we desperately need an institutional check on that. Despite winning more total votes in 2014, Democrats lost four seats in the state House and one in the state Senate, giving Republicans a large majority in the House and the Senate. With gubernatorial and Senate elections occurring during midterms, the best opportunity to change the outlook of state politics is for Democrats to win a majority in the state House.
State governments have a much larger impact on our daily lives than most people give them credit for. Gov. Rick Snyder ran as a moderate Republican and is still widely referred to as such, yet has shown little strength standing up to his further-right Republican colleagues in the legislature and simply signs off on just about anything they put on his desk. We desperately need a check on Republican policies, and a Democratic majority would give us a necessary voice that could not be ignored.
Denying the Flint water crisis, mismanaging Detroit Public Schools, refusal to grant civil rights protections to LGBTQ+ citizens, cutting budgets of higher education, slashing revenue sharing for local communities, banning libraries from circulating factual information about elections — this list goes on and on, including everything from life-threatening and horribly apathetic to ridiculous and almost-cartoonish attempts to restrain democratic processes and retain Republicans’ stranglehold on state politics. Collectively, these policies have devastated the state of Michigan. We desperately need a check on these dangerous policies, and a Democratic majority would give us a necessary voice.
Hillary Clinton and Democrats across the ballot have my vote and deserve yours. The system is not rigged as some people suggest, but institutional racism, sexism, homophobia and many other systemic problems persist. Solutions to these issues and progressive change in this country are possible. We need to come together and vote for the candidates who represent our values and our hopes for the future — not to make America great again, but to make it better than it is now and has ever been. This election is about us and what vision we have for our country. It’s about time that our governments — at all levels — begin to reflect our values.
So go out and vote. Encourage your friends and family to vote. Help out at polling locations. Volunteer for get-out-the-vote shifts. This is the most important day of the next four years, and the future of our country is truly in our hands. We can continue the progress of President Obama and help create an even better future for all Americans by electing Hillary Clinton and Democrats down the ballot.
Collin Kelly is an LSA junior and the chair of the University of Michigan’s chapter of College Democrats.