Earlier this week, the Washington Free Beacon uploaded a hacked recording from a Hillary Clinton fundraising event in February. Some news outlets (most not reputable enough to link here) characterized Clinton’s comments as “mocking” supporters of Vermont Senator and then-Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
Some of the comments, which according to the Beacon were obtained by hackers who breached a Clinton staffer's email, are certainly borderline. She alludes to those supporting Sanders as having “a deep desire to believe that we can have free college, free healthcare, that what we’ve done hasn’t gone far enough, and that we just need to go as far as Scandinavia . . . and half the people don’t know what that means, but it’s something that they deeply feel.”
Later, she characterizes the campaign platform of her progressive then-opponent as “a false promise.”
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But her full statement shows a much subtler attempt to understand a segment of the electorate dealing with harsh economic challenges. Here are Clinton’s remarks, slightly condensed, in response to a question about Sanders supporters. They begin at about the 23 minute mark of the recording, which is linked below.
Here’s what I think is going on . . . There is a sense of disappointment among young people about politics, and there are a lot of different reasons for it. Some take the position that they were for President Obama and he didn’t revolutionize our country.
The poor man faced implacable hostility and got a lot done, and deserves an enormous amount of credit. But the idea that the Affordable Care Act or saving our economy were not big enough accomplishments is just bewildering to me, because I know how hard it was and what a touch and go deal it was.
A lot of them are new to politics entirely. They’re children of the Great Recession, they’re living in their parents’ basement, and they feel that they got their education, and the jobs that are available to them are not at all what they envisioned for themselves, and they don’t see much of a future . . .
Though the comment about “living in their parents' basement” has been spun by some as condescension, it's more accurate to say Clinton is describing an unfortunate and unfair outcome of circumstances beyond individuals' control.
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So that is a mindset that is really affecting their politics. If you’re feeling that you’re consigned to being a barista or some other job that doesn’t pay a lot and doesn’t have much of a ladder of opportunity attached to it, then the idea that maybe, just maybe you could be part of a political revolution is pretty appealing.
So I think we all should be really understanding of that, and we should try to do the best we can, not to be a wet blanket on idealism. You want people to be idealistic, you want them to set big goals. But [we have to] take what we can achieve now and try to present them as bigger goals.
Clinton goes on to detail her policy goals, including lowering healthcare costs, improving infrastructure, and boosting renewable energy, calling them "a big deal." She concludes:
What we have to do, and what I’m trying to do, is to make the case that we’ve got ideals, we’ve got big goals, but we also believe that the path to progress is one that you just have to get up every day and work on . . . It's not as glamorous, it's not as exciting, it doesn't promise a revolution . . .
I tell [progressive voters] all the time, a lot of people I meet can’t wait for a revolution. They can’t afford their prescription drugs right now . . . We have to live in this space of, here’s what we can do, here’s what’s achievable, and here’s a lot of people we can help right away. And if we all do our part, we can get more and better jobs with rising incomes, which will help you too.
You can listen to the entire recording below.