When you’re a woman who works on the campaign for the first female presidential candidate for a major party, it goes without saying that you’re going to #VoteLikeAGirl. Sara Jacobs, policy advisor for Hillary for America, works on a range of issues from foreign policy to animal rights to Zika to Native American policies. She found time in her busy schedule to speak with JW magazine about why she votes and why she feels it’s so important for others to as well. Part of our #VoteLikeAGirl series, the following is an edited version of our conversation.
Q: Why do you vote like a girl?
A: I’ve spent my career working in places where you don’t necessarily get a say in the institutions that govern you, and especially where young people’s and women’s voices are not heard, respected, or valued. I know it sounds like a cliché, but for me, I really take the privilege of being American very seriously. This is something we’re asked to do every four years, every two years in some cases. I want to make sure that I am not wasting this opportunity I’ve been given.
Q: Why is it important for young women to vote?
A: This is an extremely important election, as I think anyone who is watching it play out can see. We have two candidates with very different views of the country. I think the stakes couldn’t be higher. Whichever view of the country you believe in, we as young people and as young women are going to have to live with the consequences of this election for longer than anybody else. That is an incredible responsibility and an incredible choice and one that I don’t think we should let others make for us. We should make sure our voices are heard.
As young women we care about so many issues, not just women’s issues: affordable college; criminal justice; making an economy that works for everyone and not only those at the top; making sure that everyone feels that they have a place in this country. I think that it’s important for us to make sure that we are really voting with our values. That’s an incredible power we as young women have in this country.
Q: What would you say to somebody who is planning to sit this election out?
A: I think there are many reasons to be disenchanted with the political system, and to feel that there are better ways that you can contribute. Those feelings are real, and as a young person myself I can definitely relate. But we are lucky that our systems and our institutions have a built-in mechanism for us to change things. Imagine how different our electoral system would be if everyone who was eligible to vote, actually voted, and made their voice heard!
To anyone who thinks that their voice doesn’t matter or that they should sit it out or that there are other ways that they can have more of an impact, please find something that you’re passionate about and act on it. Also know that voting doesn’t take very long and it can have an enormous impact. Your voice does matter and your voice is heard. That’s an amazing feature of our political system. In addition to voting, talk to people. Talk to your friends, family, and coworkers about what’s important to them. Also, talk to people who you disagree with and learn from them. The only way we move forward is by hearing perspectives different from our own.
Q: What have you been seeing on the campaign trail when it comes to young people and their involvement?
A: During this primary we have seen young people energized and brought into the fold. I think that the Democratic Party owes a lot to Bernie Sanders for his role in that and we should all be very grateful.
Secretary Clinton often says that even if you didn’t vote for her in the primary, even if you’re not sure yet, she’s going to work hard for every vote and she’s going to work to earn your trust and earn the responsibility that you’d be placing in her. We feel that every day here on the campaign. We’re asking ourselves: How do we make sure we’re talking to people about the issues that matter to them? How do we make sure we’re proposing policies and solutions that are really going to make people’s lives better, to the most minute level?
Q: How does foreign policy affect us domestically in our daily lives? What would you say to average Americans, who aren’t keeping up with international news on a regular basis and maybe don’t see how foreign policy affects them or should influence their vote?
A: The first job of any president is actually to be the commander in chief of this country and to make sure that our country stays safe. There are hundreds and thousands of unseen things that are happening to make sure that you in your home and the United States are safe. That includes working with our allies to make sure that we have missile defense systems so if, God forbid, anyone launches a weapon towards us, we have the ability to shoot it down. It means working with our allies on counter-terrorism efforts to make sure that we are stopping terrorists before they get into the United States and that we’re choking off the networks that allow for their support. It’s working on global health pandemics so that we stop diseases before they make it to the United States. As we saw last year with Ebola, that directly affects Americans’ health.
There are so many things that are happening so that we in the United States are being kept safe. I think a lot of it goes unseen, but it’s so important. When the world is less safe, America is less safe. We all benefit when everyone benefits.