OPINION

Melissa Mark-Viverito: Hillary Clinton, Democrats, win the debate

LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 13:  Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton takes part in a presidential debate sponsored by CNN and Facebook at Wynn Las Vegas on October 13, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Five Democratic presidential candidates are participating in the party's first presidential debate.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 13: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton takes part in a presidential debate sponsored by CNN and Facebook at Wynn Las Vegas on October 13, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Five Democratic presidential candidates are participating in the party's first presidential debate. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)  (2015 Getty Images)

Last night, Hillary Clinton showed once again that she is a tireless fighter for the American people. Whether it’s closing the wage gap, fighting for immigration reform, pushing for paid family leave, advocating for criminal justice reform or working to create an economy that benefits everyone, Hillary Clinton is progressive who knows how to get the job done.

While the Republican debates have been a constant race to the bottom, filled with anti-immigrant, anti-woman and anti-middle class rhetoric, the Democratic debate was substantive, thoughtful and focused on the issues which matter.

- Melissa Mark-Viverito

Hillary Clinton staunchly stood up for immigrants and rejected attempts by Republicans to dehumanize and degrade hard-working men and women. Hillary met with DREAMERS earlier this year and has made immigration reform a priority because she knows that immigrants deserve to be treated with dignity, not insults. She’s spoken forcefully about expanding access to healthcare — and as President, she would continue to build upon President Obama’s executive orders. If Congress won’t act, she will. Simply put, Hillary Clinton is on the side of immigrant families.

When it comes to family-friendly work policies, Hillary has been a leader her whole life and as President she will continue to put working families first. Hillary has championed paid family leave because she knows that working families in this country should be treated better. That starts with paid family leave, which is out of reach for too many Americans. Hillary is going to fix that. Hillary will also invest in universal pre-K because she understands the importance of giving our children a head start on their pathways to success.

Hillary will also be a champion for women. While Republicans continue their misguided efforts to defund Planned Parenthood – even going as far to suggest shutting down the government – Hillary will defend women’s access to health and stand with Planned Parenthood. 

Hillary also understands we must reform our criminal justice system. Hillary has spoken out about the “era of mass incarceration,” and has pushed for new strategies to deal effectively with drug abuse and treatment. She called for a “New Deal” for communities of color because she believes ensuring every child has the ability to live up to their potential. Hillary will also fight to get guns off the streets by pushing for comprehensive background checks and will use executive authority to close loopholes for gun shows and Internet sales. 

For Puerto Ricans – both on the island and throughout the diaspora – this election the most important in our lifetime. Hillary’s plan has shown she is not just a friend to the island; she will stand up for it. Hillary supports Puerto Rico’s right to declare bankruptcy and restructure its debt. Hillary has also highlighted the inequality in Puerto Rico with its lack of federal funding under Medicare and Medicaid. Both of these positions demonstrate her commitment to the long-term success of Puerto Rico. Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, and they should be afforded the same rights others are given. This is not a time to talk about status; it’s a time to talk about problem solving for the people of Puerto Rico.

Thankfully absent from this debate were the endless side shows of the Republican debates. While the Republican debates have been a constant race to the bottom, filled with anti-immigrant, anti-woman and anti-middle class rhetoric, the Democratic debate was substantive, thoughtful and focused on the issues which matter. The contrast between the forward-thinking Democratic Party and the Republican Party – which will only take us backward – was clear.

Melissa Mark-Viverito is the Speaker of the New York City Council.

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