By Vanessa Leal
Roosevelt University’s Auditorium Theatre hosted former Secretary of State and Presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, on a tour to promote her latest book “What Happened.” The night featured Clinton’s personal reactions on the 2016’s elections and an analysis of the results and the course of United States politics in the present and future. Clinton also discussed the meaning of American values and drew harsh criticism against Trump, the media and Russia.
“I’m really delighted to be back at Roosevelt University, which is named after two of my American heroes,” Clinton said. Aware of RU’s early history and diversity-driven policies, the former Secretary of State spoke about the important role of Roosevelt University in having a mission that fulfills American values.
“I know that the students and professors, the faculty and the staff here at the university are committed to carrying on the Roosevelts’ mission of working for social justice and equality,” Clinton said.
Topics explored in the book were also brought up, from campaign stories to a whole chapter dedicated to her email controversy. The former Secretary of State also excited the Auditorium Theatre’s audience when she mentioned that she wrote about watching the Cubs win the World Series together with her staff after a rally in Arizona.
Clinton described her book’s writing process as at times painful, but certainly cathartic and liberating.
“As a person I’m O.K., but as an American I’m more concerned than ever. The book is as much about the future as it is about the past,” Clinton said.
“What Happened” is, according to Clinton, a work in which she intended to compile a personal, political and historical record on the result of the 2016 elections. The former presidential candidate also brought up difficulties of coping with the loss of the election, managed by spending time with friends and family, hiking in the woods, reading and even hanging out in Chicago’s libraries.
“I started a new organization called ‘Onward Together’ to encourage the outpouring of activism and engagement that we are seeing now because it’s never been more important to stand up and fight for the values we share,” Clinton said.
Among Clinton’s points on the elections were critiques of the media’s behavior, as well as former FBI director James Comey’s interventions and Russia’s involvement in the elections.
Russian propaganda took place on multiple social media platforms and targeted what Clinton called “soft Clinton supporters” and undecided voters in order to persuade them not to vote, or to back a third party candidate by launching distorted and fabricated stories about the former Secretary of State.
Clinton said that the Russians are still praying on anything and everything they can to turn Americans against each other. This is bigger than one candidate, one election or even one country, she said.
On Trump, Clinton addressed the president’s failure in reinforcing and implementing sanctions against Russia; the tax cut agenda (that hurts programs such as Medicaid and Medicare); the denial in addressing important problems such as climate change; and immigration policies. Furthermore, and outside of criticism, Clinton emphasized constructive pathways for the United States, such as the importance of democratic values, standing up against racism and bigotry and voting in every election.
A University of Chicago student attended the event and expressed her thoughts on the night.
“I’m a medical student, so it’s been a difficult year so far with all the changes put in place specially with health care. It was nice to be reminded of why I’m going into medicine, and kind of get fired up again,” said Jacqueline Nickels.
“I didn’t really know what to expect and how much it would be about the book,” said Rachel Clark, an attendant at the event. “It was good overall, and definitely in an interesting time, one year after the elections,” said Clark.
“I thought it was a great night. Very inspiring and informative, but also depressing,” said Morgan Kreft, another attendant of the event.
Hillary Clinton received the first Eleanor Roosevelt Social Justice Award, presented on stage by Roosevelt University officials, including Board of Trustees Chair Patricia Harris, university historian Lynn Weiner and President Ali Malekzadeh.