President's perspective

Hillary Clinton for president

UFT President Michael Mulgrew - ProfileUFT President Michael Mulgrew The presidential election of 2016 is historic because we have an opportunity to elect the first woman president. But it’s historic for another reason. Never before has the Republican Party put forth a candidate so woefully unprepared for the office and so lacking in the demeanor and character necessary to lead the country.

The choice is clear: we must elect Hillary Clinton to be the nation’s next president.

Her experience as a former U.S. senator from New York and President Obama’s first secretary of state makes her eminently prepared for this difficult and demanding job. And she has been a longtime advocate for racial justice, educational opportunity, working families and health care. 

Her core beliefs would no doubt inform her selection to the U.S. Supreme Court for the vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February. Senate Republicans have refused to hold hearings on President Obama’s nominee. Clinton in the first debate vowed to end the conservative majority on the court, while Donald Trump called Scalia a “hero” and promised to nominate someone in his mold. 

With three of the remaining eight members of the Supreme Court age 78 or older, the next president could very well determine the ideological makeup of the court for decades to come. As the anti-union Friedrichs case made clear to us, the makeup of the court matters a great deal. Our enemies have become expert in using the nation’s courts to drive far-reaching policy changes that empower corporate interests. 

Hillary Clinton has laid out a detailed education agenda that describes the problems and specifies remedies, evidencing her knowledge and longtime involvement in the field. She proposes elevating the profession of teaching with better training, support and salaries, and rebuilding our education infrastructure through school bonds to fix and modernize classrooms across the country. And she plans to put forth a $2 billion plan to help schools revise student disciplinary policies that excessively penalize African-American and Latino youth. 

As part of that effort, she has vowed to use the platform of her presidency to encourage states to use federal education funding to provide intervention services focused on social and emotional support for kids who act out — the kind of effort we have undertaken in our schools with the Positive Learning Collaborative. 

Trump lines up with those who seek to privatize public education. In one of his few policy pronouncements, Trump said in a September campaign speech that he would provide $20 billion in state block grants for a “school choice” program that would dramatically expand vouchers for private schools. He has said he would defund or eliminate the Department of Education, which provides Title I funds to schools serving students in poverty. Any discussion of Trump’s education record has to include Trump University, a bogus enterprise that bilked students who thought their hard-earned money would give them access to Trump’s real estate “secrets.” 

Clinton is a friend of the labor movement and understands the difference a union can make for all workers in terms of better wages, benefits and a voice on the job. She has been steadfast in defending collective-bargaining rights and pushing for an increase in the minimum wage. And she believes in a tax code that requires the nation’s wealthiest residents to pay their fair share of taxes.

By contrast, Trump has stiffed small businesses, refusing to pay what he promised for services and goods or paying substantially below what was agreed upon. He celebrates not paying taxes, the means by which the government pays for schools, roads, bridges and so much more. He calls profiting from the misery of working people who lost their homes in the Great Recession “good business.” He disparages teacher unions and has stated on the record that he is in favor of “right to work” laws that undermine unions. 

On the road to the Republican nomination, Donald Trump tapped into the anger and resentment of white, working-class men who have lost ground with the disappearance of millions of well-paying, unionized jobs in manufacturing in the United States. But he has produced no practical policy proposals that would address their grievances. Instead, he has stoked anger against immigrants and foreigners with no regard for the grave damage he is doing to the country as a whole. 

Trump has insulted Latinos, women, African-Americans, Jews, the disabled and veterans. He has lowered the level of discourse with character assassination and a flagrant disregard for facts. 

In the end, Donald Trump favors his own interests over those of the country. Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, Clinton’s running mate, put it best in the vice presidential debate: “Americans need to worry about whether Donald Trump will be watching out for America’s bottom line or his own bottom line.” 

For all these reasons, I urge every one of you to go to the polls on Nov. 8 and vote for Hillary Clinton for president.

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