Shyama Venkateswar Distinguished Lecturer, Hunter College and Director, Public Policy Program, Roosevelt House

Posted on May 13, 2016 · Posted in Frank Friday

Even without a full endorsement by Republican Party elders, Donald Trump is poised to win the party’s presidential nomination at the convention this summer in Cleveland. The Democratic race, on the other hand, continues in full gear, although most pundits agree that Hillary Clinton will have the necessary delegate count needed to clinch the nomination.

Recent reports have shown that support for Trump has risen nationally; a recent surveyshowed him polling at 40 percent against 41 percent for Hillary Clinton. Last week, I wroteabout what it would take for Donald Trump to be a serious contender for the presidency. This week, I will highlight some key areas Hillary Clinton needs to focus on to win segments of the population who are hesitant to fully back her.

Young people under 30 continue to be a tough demographic for Hillary Clinton. Someanalysts have pointed out that her brand of feminism may not quite resonate with women in this age-group, as they have not yet experienced gender-based discrimination at the workplace or been hit by child-care responsibilities. However, both young men and women represent the generation that has been hardest hit by the economic downturn, with heavy student debt and poor job prospects defining the millennial experience. Recognizing this widely-shared challenge, President Obama, in the last few years of his presidency, focused on college affordability, increasing access to community colleges and creating a pipeline towards jobs by investing in skills training programs and apprenticeships. Putting her weight behind these issues could certainly help Hillary Clinton win support from this key demographic group.

Immigration reform continues to be one of thorniest issues nationally. Yet, there was a bipartisan moment three years ago with the passage of S. 744 — the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act — in the Senate. That bill was a comprehensive approach to modernize the country’s immigration system by providing a pathway to citizenship for 11 million immigrants living without legal papers, updating the visa system for skilled workers, and making huge investments in border security.  However, the Republican-controlled House refused to consider it, and urgent immigration reform has been put on hold indefinitely. This should be one of Hillary Clinton’s priority items on her first 100 days agenda, and she should rally around this policy issue. Sensible Democrats and Republicans — not to mention 65% of American voters across the country — would support an agenda for compassionate immigration reform.

Hillary’s muscular foreign policy has been jarring for many liberal voters. As Secretary of State, she has on various occasions supported more deployment of troops in troubled regions of the world like Iraq and Afghanistan, backed funneling arms to Syrian rebels, and initiated a show of force during moments of tense stand-off, as in the Yellow Sea between North Korea and China. Her instincts on foreign policy have been more hawkish than that of President Obama and most Democrats. Dealing with the volatile region of the Middle East in the next few years is going to require a delicate and deft hand that has more in common with skillful diplomacy than force, which alarmingly she has increasingly supported, as seen in some of her recent speeches.

Hillary Clinton has a fair shot at the next presidency if voters can see her as a visionary leader who can instill hope for a more equitable and just life at home, as well as be a global leader who can negotiate and build consensus around the most divisive issues of our times, including peace in the Middle East, climate change, and poverty.

The writing and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute or Hunter College.