Guest Op-Ed: Hillary Listens and Acts (for People in Iowa)

Guest post from Tracy Sefl

I’ve been in political communications for years. And believe me: campaigns make plenty of noise. But the best candidates do more than just talk; they stop and listen to everyday people. If Bill Clinton was “Explainer-in-Chief,” then Hillary Clinton may well be “Listener-in-Chief.” She’s that kind of candidate—the type that learns and reacts out of full-fledged empathy.

You may have spotted Hillary at Kirkwood Community College in Monticello or Fuel Espresso in Mount Vernon, or at dozens of other Iowa landmarks big and small. For the skeptics among us, it’s easy to call these appearances stagecraft or public relations stunts. But I assure you: these meetings are meaningful.

PR stunts don’t start with grievances from the mother of a child with Asperger’s in Council Bluff, then lead to a phone call with policy writers in Brooklyn, then become a key addition to the frontrunner’s healthcare proposal. No way. PR stunts start and stop when the cameras are rolling. PR stunts are for opportunists.

Hillary listens and acts where most candidates simply hear. Pushing to improve autism research is one example. So is cutting red tape for entrepreneurs, which evolved from a small business roundtable in Norwalk. Or fighting to stop drug abuse, as inspired by talks with Davenport families. Each began with a conversation and resulted in a policy proposal.

Listening is hardly new for Hillary. She’s been listening for years, well before entering politics. Whether visiting rural counties in Arkansas or meeting with women across the globe, Hillary has long sat down with the disenfranchised—and made their voices heard.

With women, especially, these sit-downs inform her decisions. Paid family leave is now central to Hillary’s gender equality plan, as are reproductive rights. And her meetings with gun victims’ mothers no doubt shape her criminal justice platform.

As Amy Chozick of The New York Times wrote last May, Hillary has, in addition to in-house policy experts, some “35 million more advisers—also known as the Democratic primary electorate.” Other politicians might follow up by signing photos or shaking hands. When Hillary sees a problem, she follows up by finding solutions.

I have roots in Iowa. My parents have retired here. My niece and my godson are growing up here. Macro concerns like ISIS and tax loopholes certainly matter—and Hillary has the know-how to tackle them. But when Iowa families like mine cast votes, other, more private concerns can come into frame—student debt, small business loans, Alzheimer’s disease. Hillary has listened carefully and addressed each one with a nuanced plan.

Come November, we can finally have a “Listener-in-Chief,” someone who enacts change from the ground up instead of shouting ideas from a mountaintop. We can elect a President who cares about and acts upon so-called small issues—the ones that stay out of headlines but mean the world to everyday people. We can elect Hillary Clinton.


by Tracy Sefl
Posted 1/31/16
Tracy Sefl is a former senior adviser to Ready for Hillary

6 Comments on "Guest Op-Ed: Hillary Listens and Acts (for People in Iowa)"

    • & she has the will and legislative chops to get her policies implemented, fighting opposing forces when necessary and building coalitions when appropriate. Thanks for reinforcing the Hillary we know and support with this piece!

  • Agreed – Hillary listens – but she doesn’t do much thereafter….She famously went on her listening tour of upstate New York but in the end she did little or nothing for NY….she flew round and round he world – but in the end what did she accomplish. Kerry has done far more than she had ever done…

    • This is patently false. Her list of powerful accomplishments are undeniable. I am from New York:

      When Congress wouldn’t do enough for rural areas and small towns, Hillary didn’t back down. She launched an innovative partnership in New York with eBay and local colleges to provide small businesses with tech support, microloans and training programs to sell their goods online. She helped expand broadband to remote areas of the state. And she launched Farm-to-Fork, to help New York farmers and producers sell their products to New York’s restaurants, schools, colleges and universities.

      Hillary Clinton is one of the most accomplished people ever to run for the Presidency. I’m lucky enough to have seen those accomplishments up close from her time as Senator from New York and as Secretary of State. Hillary Clinton was instrumental in helping secure $21 billion in federal aid to help New York rebuild after 9/11. She fought tooth and nail to protect the first responders who rushed into danger when the towers collapsed and was pivotal in the passage of legislation that helped those first responders who got sick get the care and treatment they deserved. She worked night and day to protect and create jobs in New York, whether that was at the Niagara Falls Air Force base or the Center for Bioinformatics at the University of Buffalo. She also led the charge on the Lilly Ledbetter Pay Equity Act, which is now the law of the land. – Chuck Schumer, U.S. Senator for New York, Democratic party.

      & this piece by Bill gives several powerful examples of her continual effort to find and implement solutions, impacting many:

    • I’m from NY too I whole-heartedly concur with Fran and would add that you check out Lily Ledbetter’s endorsement. She managed to talk all others Countries into embargos of Iran so that they were forced to negotiate with us. She has done allot of good works, but some people can not admit that she does anything good and that she really does care about people.

  • I still don’t understand how people can expect ONE person to fix EVERY ill this country has….it takes a community to back them, it takes schools to teach those coming up, it takes state organizations and it takes a CONGRESS that cares…..we haven’t had a Congress that cares since the TEA BAGGERS took over the Republican Party and made it nothing but a car full of clowns. Stop expecting miracles from one person, but look to them for LEADERSHIP and what they have done in their own lives. This woman is amazing, intelligent, compassionate and STRONG. She has the experience needed and the guts to back it up. THERE IS NO ONE MORE QUALIFIED IN THIS RACE ON EITHER SIDE!

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