While giving the commencement address at Wellesley College, Hillary Clinton compared her time as Wellesley student to 2017 and in the process brought up impeachment by bringing up Nixon and talking about life in the era of Trump.
In large part, thanks to years of heavy casualties and statements about Vietnam and deep differences over civil rights and poverty here at home. We were asking urgent questions about whether women, people of color, religious minorities, immigrants would ever be treated with dignity and respect. And 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. After firing the person running the investigation into him at the department of justice.
And here’s what that means to you, the class of 2017. You are graduating at a time when there is a full-fledged assault on truth and reason. Just log on to social media for ten seconds. It will hit you right in the face. People denying science, concocting elaborate, hurtful conspiracies theories about child abuse rings operating out of pizza parlors. Drumming up rampant fear about undocumented immigrants, Muslims, minorities, the poor. Turning neighbor against neighbor and sowing division at a time when we desperately need unity. Some are even denying things we see with our own eyes. Like the size of crowds.
And then defending themselves by talking about “alternative facts.” But this is serious business. Look at the budget that was just proposed in Washington. It is an attack of unimaginable cruelty on the most vulnerable among us, the youngest, the oldest, the poorest, and hardworking people who need a little help to gain or hang on to a decent middle-class life. It grossly underfunds public education, mental health, and efforts even to combat the opioid epidemic. And in reversing our commitment to fight climate change, it puts the future of our nation and our world at risk.
And to top it off, it is shrouded in a trillion-dollar mathematical lie. Let’s call it what it is. It’s a con. They don’t even try to hide it. Why does all this matter? It matters because if our leaders lie about the problems we face, we’ll never solve them. It matters because it undermines confidence in government as a whole which in turn breeds more cynicism and anger. But it also matters because our country, like this college, was founded on the principles of the enlightenment. In particular, the belief that people, you and I, possess the capacity for reason and critical thinking. And that free and open debate is the life blood of a democracy.
The comparison was hard to miss. Clinton thinks Trump is the Richard Nixon of the Internet age. She also discussed the impulse of authoritarian regimes to control the thoughts of the people. Hillary Clinton went there, and all Americans would be wise to listen to her message.
Trump’s presidency may very well end in impeachment and disgrace, but it won’t get to that point unless people stand up and fight.