My cards are on the table at this point: I like Hillary Clinton. I think she’ll make a damn good president if she wins (which is looking good at this point). But in addition to her issues and her experience and her general capableness for the job, there’s something else that keeps happening as I learn more about her and her campaign: I keep learning about little things she’s done that make me like her more. They’re not the massive, media-blitzing actions of a campaign. They’re just the little things that you see here and there that suggest someone who has put together an operation that genuinely cares about people. I really appreciate that in a candidate and campaign.
Here are a few of those things.
Her website has a form where the “gender” field is a free-form text input. Follow that link to see why that’s important in more detail, but suffice to say: it’s very significant for nonbinary trans people, and I don’t think it’s because she expects to win on the strength of the Tumblr vote.
Her website also has a form where the “prefix” (aka “honorific”) field includes options for “Other”, and “Mx.” in addition to the usual “Mr.”, “Mrs.”, “Dr.”, etc. Same as the gender text input, this is a significant deal for people who don’t fit into the options traditionally provided.
I strongly suspect that her campaign is the first in history to do either of the above.
Her website is designed to be accessible to low-vision and colorblind users. The accessibility of the web may or may not be something that you have to think about day-to-day, but things like this are a big deal for a lot of web users. Being inclusive in this way matters, and it suggests a care about people and an attention to detail that, suffice to say, not all candidates or campaigns have.
In 2010, she was responsible for quietly enacting a rule allowing trans people to change the gender on their passports without reassignment surgery. This in particular feels like a microcosm of why I like Clinton so much as a politician. If she can get shit done — if she can help someone more — by quietly changing something instead of loudly running on it, she does that.
This is why I tend to trust her as much as I do. I believe her when she talks about having public and private positions on things. I believe that’s true for most if not all politicians (seriously if you think this wasn’t the case for, for example, FDR, I have some news for you), and for non-politicians as well. For the most part, it’s just how people work. And in her case, in this case, I believe that she decided that keeping her opinion — that trans people deserve to be able to determine what gender goes on their passport without surgery — keeping her opinion on that relatively quiet at the time made it more likely she would succeed at accomplishing something real that changed people’s lives for the better. That rule change is a big deal for trans people. And she got it done before trans issues had become at all front and center in US politics, because she wanted to help someone.
She advocates for issues affecting autistic people by advocating for the things they actually want and need. This may not seem like a big deal if you’re not aware of how frequently “advocacy” by major organizations, parties, and campaigns tends to look like “doing what we think is best for you” instead of “doing what you actually say you want and need”. But it is.
It isn’t just the shift in emphasis that I applaud, but the language itself. The extreme, pathological language that usually surrounds autism is almost totally absent from Clinton’s proposal. The word “epidemic” doesn’t even occur once. “Disease” only occurs in reference to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Oftentimes, autism is portrayed as a sort of tumor – an unpleasant, discrete growth that can be separated from its “host” and destroyed. The thing is, autism doesn’t work that way, and Clinton’s proposal doesn’t act like it does. She doesn’t talk about combating autism. Instead, she provides concrete ways to improve the lives of autistic Americans. I am delighted.
None of the things I’ve mentioned are the kinds of things that get national attention. But they all matter. In my opinion, they are all the actions of someone who cares about making change happen in the little ways that, while important, don’t make headlines. They make me feel more confident that the perceptions of those who know her and have worked with her are the accurate ones. I think that those people, who see her as an incredibly smart, capable, and caring person who wants to help others, are the ones whose impression of her is most accurate.
As you know, I liked her already. These things just make me like her a little more.
* If you want reasons to vote for her, check out Greta Christina’s posts about why to vote for her. If you want reasons to be skeptical of the coverage of her scandals, watch John Oliver’s coverage of them. If you think this election is as important as I do and want to help her win, this handy Chrome extension can suggest things to do to help, or you can just go to her website for events to volunteer at and/or a phone banking app you can use to do phone banking from home. And of course, make sure you register to vote and find your polling place.