On the way home from the Democratic National Debate held at my school, I sat on the bus with two signs: “Lucha por $15” and a sign that said “Black Lives Matter; Immigrant Justice; and Fight For $15”.
These two posters describe my politics. I am passionate about getting everyone a fair shot in this nation that I am proud to call home. I rallied outside before the debate; calling for justice, fair wages, pensions, environmental issues, and chanting “the people, united, will never be defeated.” Some might call me extreme. I call myself liberal: a Milwaukee native, a UWM student. And I am a Hillary Clinton supporter.
Don’t get me wrong, I admire the politics of Bernie Sanders as much as the 98% of other college age people who filled the Union Cinema with me at the Debate Watch party on campus. I clapped along with his retorts on Libya and cheered when he spoke of the corrupt medical system. In this, my claps were some of many.
But I also clapped for Clinton: when she spoke about the high stakes in our relationship with Iran, her positions on Dodd Frank, and when she snuck in an attack on union-busting Scott Walker. I clapped just as loudly as I had for Bernie. In this, I was one of only a handful.
I understand that Bernie Sanders is an upset, a politician who wants to change the rules of the game. He is man with a strong message that he believes in. A man with a vision. A smart man who wants to change this country. And I respect him immensely for that.
I also respect Hillary Clinton. She is smart, experienced and ready to tackle the world’s problems. While her immense experience marks her (to some) as a cog of the “political machine,” and she does have some questions to answer (about campaign finances specifically), is that not what primaries are for: clarifying and sharpening candidates’ opinions and positions, and preparing them for an eventual run-off against an opposing party?
At UWM, the energy was heightened throughout the day. Security details were everywhere, restrictive tape rolled across whole swaths of campus, classes moved to different buildings and city bus reroutes. Students lined up a half hour before the cinema doors even opened. Protests outside of the debate hall were well attended and spirited.
I am proud of my university for hosting such an important event. I want this momentum to continue throughout the election cycle, and into the next one. We also cannot forget the importance of local officials in our visions of a better world.
But let our visions for the future be complemented by celebrations of the present: tonight I shook the hands of Mayor Tom Barrett and Congresswoman Gwen Moore. I sat in the theatre with my friends as we cheered for our favorite candidate, and groaned at the technology glitch when we lost 30 seconds of speech. I gathered with friends from across the state: Kenosha, Stevens Point, Glendale. We all gathered for this. Civic engagement among young voters is not lost.
Ultimately, I believe that both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton would both make good presidents of the United States. I cheered with the rest of the crowd when these two intelligent candidates answered questions of security, education and the government’s role in the future. But which of the two will represent the Democratic Party?
I personally hope that it will be Hillary Clinton.