“Resist, insist, persist, and enlist.”
That was the message former Democratic presidential candidate and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton left with the crowd of over 5,000 people squished into the Encare Centre near Exhibition Place in Toronto.
“I’m here tonight to talk about a book, but more then that to talk about the issues that confront us,” she said. “I don’t want anybody to give up because it’s hard. It’s not going to happen just because we want it to. We have to work for it.”
During the hour-long talk on Sept. 28, Clinton discussed the results of the 2016 election and looked to the future of politics, not just in the United States, but around the world. With a nod to Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his gender-equal cabinet, Clinton reminisced about “what happened“ a year ago. She spoke candidly about the mistakes she made during the campaign, how the FBI director’s investigation directly interfered with the votes, and the continuing influence of Russia in U.S. affairs.
Finally, she spoke with grace and honesty about her experiences as a woman in politics. “I admit that I’ve always felt that I had to be careful in public, to keep my guard up. Well, that’s all gone.”
Her new memoire, What Happened, has been criticized by many current politicians in both parties for staying in the limelight following her loss to now President Donald Trump. But Clinton, as she says, is not letting go of her opinion. Her newest organization, Onward Together, was founded in May to help encourage young people to get involved in the democratic process and to support grassroots organizations that are helping engage youth in the conversation.
“I am not going anywhere except in the middle of the debate about our future!”
Here are four of the most powerful themes Clinton touched during her speech:
Women in politics
“The only way I know of to get sexism out of politics is to get more women in to politics.
For men, professional success and likability go hand in hand. Not for women. In other words, the more successful a man becomes, the more people like him. With women it’s the exact opposite. The more professionally successful we are, the less people like us. Probably a few of you in this room have an inkling as to what I’m talking about. And not only that, women are seen favourably if we advocate for others, but unfavourably if we advocate for ourselves. That struck a cord.
It is eye-rolling to see a picture of a group of white, someone elderly men, sitting around a table deciding what health care women need. So I’d like more women in politics so our politics is more representative and then the voices of families and communities and entire nations are heard. “
On accuracy and truth
“There is no such thing as an alternative fact. Despite the best efforts by some, to wage a war on reason and evidence, we can’t let that happen
We are living through an all-out assault on truth and reason. When leaders deny things we can see with our own eyes, like the size of a crowd at an inauguration, or refuse to accept sound science when it comes to urgent challenges like climate change, it isn’t just frustrating to those of us living in the fact-based universe. It is insidious and deeply subversive to democracy.
Democracy is under assault. We must insist on truth and accuracy and we must hold elected leaders and the press accountable when they do not perform on behalf of truth and accuracy.”
On Trump looming over her during the debate
“I wrote about this because I wanted to take you into my mind about what it’s like to be on a stage in front of probably 60 to 70 million people watching and to have you opponent stalking you, and making faces, and generally drawing attention towards himself in contrast to what we were supposed to be talking about – simple things like how to create jobs and give people better futures by making college affordable – so, I had prepared for the debate and I suspected he might try to do something like that. We actually practiced it. I worked on keeping my composure because I thought you’d kind of want a president who is composed. It’s one thing to practice it, and another to be there in the moment.
Yes, my mind was going, calm, composed, versus ‘whip around and say you like to intimidate women, you are not going to intimidate me, back up you creep.” It might have been more satisfying, but I’m not sure it would have been the best strategy. “
On seeing a woman as president in our lifetime
“Well I certainly hope so. I’m going to do everything I can to make that happen. Our system though is really tough. How come other countries have had at least one woman as a head of government? In our system, literally anyone can run for president. As we have seen. In our system, it comes down to the level of your devotion to the job you want to get and why you think you would make a good president and why you think you will make a difference. And it comes down to your pain threshold and I think we may well have in 2020 maybe 20 to 25 who will run.
Eventually, we will have a woman president and I hope she is someone I can agree with so I can support her!”
Featured photo by Gage Skidmore.