(Editor’s Note: Debbie Hogue-Downing is a retired educator and long-time Clinton supporter who sits on the Hillary for Oklahoma Leadership Council. NonDoc has solicited Letters to the Editors from Oklahomans explaining why they support the presidential candidate of their choice. Email Letters@NonDoc.com with your submission before the March 1 primary in Oklahoma.)
This year, Oklahoma Democrats have an opportunity rarely afforded to us: The chance to have a big say in who will be the next president of the United States. While early states like Iowa and New Hampshire attract the lion’s share of attention in presidential primaries, more than half of the delegates needed to become the Democratic nominee will be awarded by states that have primaries or caucuses in March.
On Tuesday, the eyes of the nation will turn to the Sooner State. Oklahomans will start casting ballots during the early vote period through Saturday.
As a woman, retired educator, and Choctaw citizen, I will be enthusiastically casting my early vote for Hillary Clinton.
No candidate in either party has her depth of experience in foreign affairs or the scars from having waged so many fights on behalf of women, children and families during her more than 40 years of public service. Her progressive record and commitment to advancing the issues that are at the core of what it means to be a Democrat are why I find myself at the Hillary for Oklahoma office most days of the week.
A champion for children and families
When Hillary Clinton was First Lady of Arkansas, one of her signature achievements was bringing the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters program to Arkansas. It allowed parents to become their child’s first teacher and gave underprivileged children the chance to start school on a solid foundation. As a retired elementary school teacher, I saw every day how an early childhood education — or lack thereof — impacted students in elementary school and beyond.
During her campaign, Hillary Clinton has called for doubling our investment in early head start and early head-start child care programs. As President, she will also fight to ensure that every 4-year-old in America has access to high-quality preschool in the next 10 years.
If the best indication of what someone will do is what they have done, no candidate can come close to Hillary Clinton’s steadfast commitment to the children of this country. The Children’s Health Insurance Program she helped push through as First Lady insures 8 million children across the country, including children in Oklahoma on SoonerCare.
As a teacher, I worked every day to help my students live up to their potential and prepare them for a lifetime of learning. Hillary Clinton has shown an educator’s commitment to our children throughout her career, and there is no candidate I’d rather make phone calls or knock on doors for than the one who not only shares my beliefs, but has lived them and fought for them when it mattered.
A voice for underserved communities
Hillary Clinton has always been a voice for communities who are seldom heard in our politics. We have seen that during this campaign, in her reaction to the water crisis in Flint, Mich. Hillary used her voice to lift up the crisis in Flint and put it front and center in the presidential campaign. She focused on helping the residents of Flint. She called on the state of Michigan to pay for clean water until the city has access to safe drinking water again and called on the governor to ask the Obama administration to immediately set up a health-monitoring and surveillance system to test Flint residents for lead poisoning.
As a Choctaw citizen, I also appreciate Hillary Clinton’s work on issues important to Native Americans. As First Lady, she consulted with tribal leaders to improve the Indian Health Care Improvement Act and strengthen the health care delivery system for Native Americans. As senator from New York, she sponsored and fought for legislation to give tribes greater representation in advisory groups and direct access to federal grants. As Secretary of State, Hillary led the United States’ support of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which continues to make critical contributions to our Native American policies.
Hillary is the only Democratic candidate who has the experience to make a real difference for families. She has a lifetime of experience fighting for children and families and getting results. She’s fought to break down all the barriers that hold people back. She’s worked to advance racial justice, gender equality, LGBT rights and women’s rights throughout her entire career. She is committed to building on the progress we’ve made under President Obama.
I’m with her, because I believe she’s always been for me. Oklahomans need a fighter in the White House, and Hillary Clinton is that fighter. I hope my fellow Oklahomans will join me in supporting Hillary Clinton in our Democratic primary.