Hillary Clinton's Yale Commencement Speech Gets Real About Life After The 2016 Election
On Sunday afternoon, former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's Yale commencement speech poked fun at the 2016 presidential election, Trump, and herself. At the same time, though, Clinton got real about what's next for the United States at this unique point in history. "The class of 2018 is graduating at one of the most tumultuous times in our history," Clinton said. "And I say that as someone who graduated in the '60s!" She graduated from Yale Law School in 1973, and spoke at the graduation festivities back in 2001 as well.
But the scariness of this moment in history cannot deter you, Clinton told graduates. "Most of all, you've demonstrated resilience. That's a word that's been on my mind a lot recently," she said. "Everyone gets knocked down. What matters is if you get back up and keep going."
Clinton encouraged graduates to vote, subscribe to newspapers and fight for those being targeted. "It's not easy to wade back into the fight every day," she said.
While discussing the 2016 election, the former Democratic candidate used it to illustrate a larger point about the inevitability of mistakes and failure. "You will make mistakes, you will fail. It happens to all of us, no matter how qualified or capable we are," she said. "Take it from me."
Watch her full speech, which starts about 31 minutes in:
The first months after her defeat in the 2016 election were "not easy," she said. She did yoga, alternate nostril breathing, drank lots of chardonnay, and took long walks in the woods. Despite her coping mechanism and the distance from that defeat, Clinton admitted she's not over election.
"Let me just get this out of the way: No, I'm not over it. I still think about the 2016 election, I still regret the mistakes I made," she told graduates. "I still think though understanding what happened in such a weird and wild election in American history will help us defend our democracy in the future."
While she might not be over it, Clinton is ready for the next chapter. "So, today as a person I'm okay. As an American I'm concerned," she told graduates.
Clinton also mentioned President Trump without using his name. "The radicalization of American politics hasn't been symmetrical. There are leaders within our country who blatantly incite people with hateful rhetoric who fear change. Who see the world in zero sum terms. If others are gaining, they must be losing. That's a recipe for polarization and conflict."
But not everything about the speech was so serious. Clinton also poked fun at herself, referencing a yet-to-be-found a cappella audition tape. "As for my long lost Whiffenpoofs audition tape... I've buried it so deep, not even WikiLeaks will be able to find it," Clinton joked. "Because if you thought my emails were scandalous, you should hear my singing voice."
The former Secretary of State called for "radical empathy" to try to capture "a sense of community and common humanity" among each other. "As hard as it is, this is a time to reach across divides of race, class and politics," Clinton urged graduates to consider. "To try to see the world through the eyes of people very different from ourselves and return to rational debate."
Clinton wasn't trying to only be inspirational to graduates and their families. She also called for specific policies during her speech as well.
"Enough is enough. We need common sense gun safety legislation as soon as we can get it," Clinton said, after mentioning the teenager in Santa Fe, Texas, who wasn't surprised by the shooting at her school.