Support Hillary If You Want to Continue Making Progress on Social Justice

By Tom Watson

At a rally in Virginia, Hillary Clinton gave the toughest speech of her young campaign for president. Building on the historic Supreme Court decision granting all Americans the right to marry the person they love, Hillary took aim at the Republican Party.

“This morning, love triumphed in the highest court in our land,” she said. “Equality triumphed. America triumphed.”

“Instead of turning back the clock, [the GOP] should be joining us in saying ‘no’ — ‘no’ to discrimination for once and for all.”

Last December – before Charleston, before Baltimore, before Walter Scott – Hillary accepted an award from the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights in New York. It recognized her quarter century of leadership in the battle for social and economic justice. 

As reported by Huffpo’s Jill Colvin, she wondered what Kennedy would say about "the thousands of Americans marching in our streets demanding justice for all," and "the mothers who've lost their sons."

"What would he say to all those who have lost trust in our government and our other institutions, who shudder at images of excessive force, who read reports about torture done in the name of our country, who see too many representatives in Washington quick to protect a big bank from regulation but slow to take action to help working families facing ever greater pressure.”

One of the abiding myths perpetrated by incurious pundits (and by her political enemies) is that Hillary is just a safe politician whose public positions are merely a reaction to events. This is a sad and politically motivated falsehood. In truth, among nationally known political leaders, Hillary has usually been out front on the major social issues of her time. This is why her polling is so strong and deep with the LGBT community, with Latinos, and with the African-American voters and community leaders who form the true base of the Democratic Party. They know, in a way that eludes the talking heads, that she will fight for them, stand with them, and work with them.

This week was one of the most memorable in the Obama presidency. President Obama’s deeply moving eulogy for Clementa Pinckney in South Carolina was a time for all Americans to pause and consider both tragedy and progress, symbols as well as policy. The rainbow colors on the White House facade provided a calm and healing coda to a week of turmoil and uncertainty.

Throughout this week, Hillary Clinton went about her business putting into place a campaign that will cement a legacy of progress on social justice. This weekend, in the 46 states that don’t vote early in the 2016 primary process, the Clinton campaign held more than 200 organizing events involving thousands of Hillary supporters – and Hillary herself pointed out in stark terms what the GOP would have in store for our country’s very real social and economic gains. She was there at Clementa Pinckney’s funeral, she was there in Virginia at a huge gathering of fired-up Democrats, she was there celebrating a massive victory on the right to marry out of love.

At the Virginia rally, we couldn’t find a word to disagree with in Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s introduction:

“Hillary Clinton is a tenacious fighter. She’s been beaten up, she’s been knocked down, but every time she does, she gets right back up. She dusts herself off, and she gets right back in that arena again, folks.”

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Peter Daou and Tom Watson founded #HillaryMen to provide actionable analysis of the 2016 campaign focusing on the gender barrier in U.S. politics. Peter is a former senior digital adviser to Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative. He is a veteran of two presidential campaigns (Kerry '04 and Clinton '08). Tom is an author and Columbia University lecturer who advises companies and non-profits on social activism.