Forty eight years after speaking at her own graduation, Hillary Clinton was once again at the commencement of her alma mater, Wellesley College.
Clinton addressed the Class of 2017 on Friday in a speech that jabbed at President Donald Trump, touched on the spread of false information and advised the graduating class to never give up.
As with former Vice President Joe Biden’s Class Day speech at Harvard, Clinton, who also graduated in 1969, drew parallels between current events and the tumultuous political climate that had taken over when she graduated from school.
“We didn’t trust government, authority figures, or really anyone over 30,” she said, noting the dishonest statements made then about the Vietnam War. “We were asking urgent questions about whether women, people of color, religious minorities and immigrants would ever be treated with dignity and respect.”
Clinton then brought up President Nixon and alluded to similarities between him and Trump.
“By the way, we were furious about the past presidential election of a man whose presidency would eventually end in disgrace with his impeachment for obstruction of justice,” she said, to a loud applause, before continuing, “after firing the person running the investigation into him at the Department of Justice,” hinting at Trump’s firing of the FBI director James Comey.
Clinton also talked about the differences today than when she graduated, speaking specifically about technology, the internet and the “fragmented media landscape.”
“You are graduating at a time when there is a full-fledged assault on truth and reason,” she said.
Clinton gave “Pizzagate” as an example and noted that people deny the truth of things “we see with our own eyes. Like the size of crowds,” she said, getting in another jab at Trump.
She directly criticized the president’s new budget proposal, as well, saying that the promises are “shrouded in a trillion dollar mathematical lie. Let’s call it what it is, a con.”
Clinton touched on her election loss, making a few jokes at her own expense.
“You may have heard that things didn’t go exactly as I planned. But you know what? I’m doing O.K.,” she said. She added that she’s been spending time with family, “taking long walks in the woods, organizing my closets, and I won’t lie, chardonnay helped a little too.”
But what helped her most, she said, was remembering who she was and where she came from, and how Wellesley was an important part of that.
“Don’t be afraid of your ambition, your dreams or even your anger, ” she told the class. “Those are powerful forces, but harness them to make a difference in the world.”
She did warn the women that there would be “trolls galore,” both online and in real life, in their futures — “They may even call you a nasty woman,” she quipped — but told them that their education equipped them with everything needed to handle those challenges. She pressed on the young women to keep going in the pursuit of “doing good,” and that our country depends on it.
“When people in power invent their own facts and attack those who question them, it can mark beginning of the end of free society,” Clinton said. “You didn’t create these circumstances, but you have the power to change them.”