Those damn emails.
Not only has that been a consistent refrain of 2016 Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in the year since she lost to Donald Trump, it’s also a chapter in her new bestseller “What Happened.”
Clinton took to the stage Monday night before a packed crowd at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre with novelist and progressive activist Anne LaMott serving as moderator to discuss the election, women in politics and what has been a volatile year for the United States.
“There were days when I had to keep my guard up and be careful about what I said,” Clinton said. “Those days are over.”
The former First Lady of the United States, Senator from New York and Secretary of State said that the time since the surprising loss had been “a painful process, but cathartic and reinvigorating.”
“As a person, I’m OK,” she said. “As an American, I’m concerned.”
Clinton encouraged those spurred into politics by the last year to keep going, even when things seemed bleak.
“Everyone gets knocked down,” she said. “There were times I was tempted to just pull the covers over my head and stay in bed. But time with my family, my two grandkids helped, and - I’ll admit - I did have my fair share of chardonnay.”
Clinton came across as funny, charming and driven. Immediately after discussing her family, she attacked the Republican-led Congress for allowing the Children’s Health Insurance Program to lapse.
“It’s been more than two months since CHIP expired,” she said. “That’s nine million kids and their families who have lost healthcare.”
CHIP is a Department of Health and Human Services program meant to serve those who fall in the “gap” between Medicaid and being able to afford adequate health insurance. Senators have introduced a plan to fund CHIP until 2022 while the House of Representatives is considering a bill to slash billions in funding.
From there, Clinton applauded Washington as being one of the few states in the union to truly embrace the power of women in politics. She cited Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell as proof positive.
“The only way to get sexism out of politics is to get more women into politics,” she said to thunderous applause. “The more successful a man is, the more people like him. For women it’s the exact opposite. But by being at the table, we are bringing perspective that wasn’t there. We saw the pictures last year of elderly white men making decisions about health care. Women need to be at that table.”
Despite winning three million more votes than her opponent, Clinton lost the electoral college.
She said part of the vitriol of the 2016 election was thanks to a weaponized campaign of misinformation by Russian agents, which forms “a clear and present danger to western democracy.”
Clinton claimed a silver lining of the massive social media movement to create division amongst Americans was that several European nations picked up on the issue. In months following President Donald Trump’s election, The Netherlands and France both threw aside xenophobic candidates who were supported by foreign social media campaigns.
And while Russia’s weaponized interference in other nation’s elections is cause for concern, Clinton said there was one domestic issue which should concern all of us, regardless of party.
An effort to suppress votes was “the civil rights issue of our times,” Clinton said. She decried the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other efforts, mainly in Republican-led legislatures to restrict who can vote as “a blast from the Jim Crow past.”
Clinton addressed her critics too, who insist she should just go away.
“I’m not going anywhere except in the middle of the debate,” she said.
Lamott read a question from feminist legend Gloria Steinem, in which the activist asked how to democratize what can be insular and restrictive state legislatures.
Clinton said that the need to vote in every election is needed now more than ever, and that women and minority candidates should continue to run, despite opposition.
“I got out of the State Department with a 69 percent approval rating, but by the time they were done with me, you’d think I’d been in prison,” she said. “And that’s where they wanted me.”
With events like Charlottesville and the ludicrous “Pizzagate” conspiracy, Clinton encouraged those in attendance to continue to speak out for truth and justice.
“Do not lose heart, do not get discouraged,” she said. “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. And everybody you know, harass them to make sure they’re registered to vote.”