A Conversation with Chelsea Clinton
By Saboohi Ahmed
On Monday, January 25 th, the Hillary Clinton campaign came to Southern California. Chelsea Clinton, representing her mother, flew to Los Angeles from New York to speak to supporters at various events in the Southland.
At the home of Michael and Sholeh Chegini in Newport Coast overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean, Chelsea seemed relaxed and enjoying the warm weather. She had taken an early morning flight from JFK airport in New York City escaping the snowy conditions of the Northeastern United States.
Orange County Democrats had turned out in droves to see and hear what Chelsea had to say about her mother’s campaign. Local political dignitaries, including City of Irvine Councilwoman Beth Krom and Jose Solario, Trustee of the Rancho Santiago Community College District were present as were candidates for Congress Dr Sue Savary who is challenging Republican Bob Dornan for the 48 th Congressional District and Lou Correa, running for Loretta Sanchez’s open Congressional seat in the 46 th District.
After Henry Vandermeir, chairman of the Democratic Party of Orange County, introduced Chelsea to the standing room only crowd of attendees, and called out to the significant political players in attendance, Chelsea took the microphone and participated in a Town Hall type conversation with the crowd.
This election according to her is an extremely important one as it will define the face of the United States for decades to come. The importance of having a Democrat in the White House in the next term is especially important as the next President will get to select at least two, if not three, justices of the Supreme Court. The cases facing the Supreme Court in the next few years are very important as they include women’s reproductive rights, environmental cases, local laws trying to suppress the vote and possibly in the future, a repeal of the Citizens United decision.
Dr Sue Savary, asked Chelsea how she deals with the attacks leveled against her mother by her opponents. Her response was enlightening. She pointed out that she had never known a time when her parents were not being attacked. As a child in Arkansas, when her father ran for governor, she endured campaigns for reelection every two years (as Arkansas in those days had a term of two years). She remembers attending political rallies for not just her father but for all local offices where Democrats were running for office and Bill Clinton felt a need to support his fellow party mates. The effect of this exposure according to Chelsea was to enable her to withstand the negativity brought to bear on her mother’s campaign.
Asked by another guest why she thought that Hillary would be the best candidate Chelsea provided some very interesting facts about her mother that a lot of people are unaware of. While her career in the Senate and the Cabinet is well documented, what a lot of people do not know about Hillary was that she had a remarkable career prior to Bill Clinton’s political success, dedicated to serving poor underprivileged children. Unlike other graduates of Yale Law School, Hillary’s first job was with the Children’s Defense Fund. She worked with the Fund’s founder Marian Wright Edelman, an activist of the Civil Rights Movement. Hillary Clinton helped through litigation to pass the Education for All Handicapped Children Act in 1975 and to make it possible for children with disabilities to have equal access to public education. It seems incredible that until 1975, in the United States, disabled children were not allowed access to public education, and the parents had to bear the full financial burden of educating their children. She also worked on another great milestone which was getting the Courts to agree in 1974 that the juveniles should not be incarcerated with adults and it was the duty of the State to provide education to imprisoned youth. In 1974 the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act was passed that allowed children in prison to be housed and educated separately from adults. This work that Hillary Clinton did in her early years is seldom remembered by people currently.
The host Michael Chellini had the final question for Chelsea: “How would Secretary Clinton deal with the question of Iran? Very few Iranians in the United States approve of the current Iranian regime. However, none wants the United States to go to war with Iran.” Chelsea replied that Hillary had worked closely with President Obama on the relationship with Iran and that she saw her mother progressing in the same direction as set by President Obama and Secretary John Kerry.
All in all, Chelsea did a great job representing her mother to the Democrats of Orange County this sunny January morning in California, days before the Iowa Caucus.