Honoring the Yale University tradition of wearing funky hats on graduation day, this year’s commencement speaker Hillary Clinton took the stage with a hat of her own ― a Russian fur hat, undoubtedly a swipe at President Donald Trump and the accusations that his campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election.
“I brought a hat too … a Russian hat,” she told the students on Sunday as they whooped and cheered. “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”
Clinton, a graduate of Yale Law School, offered a poignant address that encouraged graduates to channel their resilience and contribute meaningfully to the future of democracy.
She jokingly made references to the scandals that engulfed her campaign, noting that she made sure to bury a tape of her singing acapella during her Yale days so deeply, she quipped, that not even WikiLeaks would be able to find it.
“If you thought my emails were scandalous you should hear my singing voice,” she said.
She congratulated all of the students in the room, saying, “Even the three of you who live in Michigan and didn’t request your absentee ballots in time.”
Clinton also made several mentions of her searing election loss. “No, I’m still not over it,” she said. “I still think about the 2016 election, I still regret the mistakes I made.”
As a human being, she added, she is coping with what happened. But as an American, she’s concerned. “We’re living through a time when fundamental rights, civic virtue, freedom of the press, even facts and reason are under assault like never before.”
Yet she did highlight the unprecedented levels of political and civic mobilization that have been kicked into gear since Trump’s victory, efforts she believes will help to defend democracy. “We are also witnessing an era of new moral conviction, civic engagement, and a sense of devotion to our democracy and country.”
She urged students to demonstrate resilience even in simple ways, like in calling out fake news or subscribing to a newspaper to support quality journalism. And “as obvious as it seems, it means voting,” she added. “At this moment in our history, our country depends on every citizen believing in the power of their actions even when that power is invisible and their efforts feel like an uphill battle.”