Returning to her alma mater, former democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton gave a timely, personal, and political commencement address. Quotes from Hillary Clinton's speech at Wellesley College gave, perhaps predictably, a stream of constant, not-so-subtle digs at President Donald Trump and his administration. Less predictably, she managed to align 1969's political context with that of Wellesley's class of 2017, conflating her graduation year to the present day. As this was Clinton's third commencement address at Wellesley — she spoke at her own graduation and then again during her time as first lady — she had plenty of practice. Still, it seemed as if Clinton's takeaways were pointed at the president, and less so the graduates at hand.
You may have heard that things didn't exactly go the way I planned. But you know what? I'm doing OK.
Addressing the elephant in the room, Clinton let the audience in on what she's been doing post-election. "I've gotten to spend time with my family, especially my amazing grandchildren," she noted, along with "long walks in the woods, organizing my closets. I won't lie," she mused, "chardonnay helped a little too."
We didn't trust government, authority figures — or really anyone over 30.
Citing the Vietnam War and civil rights clashes of the era, Clinton compares her college years to those of the current graduates. Though she never said his name throughout the entire speech, Clinton compares Trump with Nixon, not failing to mention Nixon's eventual impeachment proceedings.
We got through that tumultuous time, and once again began to thrive as our society changed laws and opened the circle of opportunity and rights wider and wider for more Americans.
Here, Clinton appears to move beyond Trump to a more hopeful and universal message, noting that all the political and social strife and struggle led to a better society all around.
You are graduating at a time when there is a full-fledged assault on truth and reason.
Another allusion to Trump's behavior, Clinton warned the audience of science deniers, conspiracy theorists, and perpetuators of alternative facts. She reminded: "When people in power invent their own facts and attack those who question them, it can mark the beginning of the end of a free society."
Don't let anyone tell you your voice doesn't matter. In the years to come, there will be trolls galore online and in person.
"They may even call you a 'nasty woman,'" she suggests, ultimately insisting upon a push past the naysayers and any feelings of powerlessness. Of course, it goes without saying that it was Trump who called Clinton "nasty" in the first place.
If your outreach is rebuffed, keep trying. Do the right thing anyway. We’re going to share this future. Better to do so with open hearts and outstretched hands than closed minds and clenched fists.
After the Trump comments subsided again, Clinton offered more inspiration framed in her belief in working through difficult things, fighting for what is right.
I’m very optimistic about the future, because I think, after we’ve tried a lot of other things, we get back to the business of America.
Concluding a speech that critiqued the current president with a note about business feels, given Trump's business background, like a counter-intuitive message. President Calvin Cooledge's famous "business of America is business" quote rings out here but the phrase doesn't really bolster Clinton's message of progress, civil rights, and fighting through adversity.
Regardless of the dissected message, the Wellesley graduates appeared to love Clinton, cheering and laughing throughout the 30-minute presentation. They didn't seem to mind that the speech was meant for a bigger audience; The Trump call-outs were even welcomed as humorous asides. Clinton certainly gave an engaging keynote that the class of 2017 won't soon forget.