NEW YORK ― Hillary Clinton continued her informal speaking tour on Wednesday night, criticizing the Trump administration and hitting back at the idea that women’s issues are only relevant to progressives on the coasts.
At the Ms. Foundation Gloria Awards in New York City, the former Secretary of State reflected on the fallout of the presidential election, as well as the “troubling ideas” that have been uplifted since.
“For a lot of women, it stung to realize that perhaps our country hadn’t come as far as we hoped; that not only are sexism, racism, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia still with us, but they run deep,” Clinton said. “And a lot of troubling ideas have been elevated in the weeks and months that followed, including the ridiculous, insulting notion that we only care about women’s rights in certain parts of our country ― not in what some in the press call ‘real America.’”
Clinton pushed back on the idea of a stark divide between that “real America” and the cities that house what the right likes to call “liberal elites,” pointing out that millions of men and women participated in the Women’s March across the country, even outside of urban centers like New York, D.C., Chicago and L.A.
“People care about equal pay everywhere; child care and health care, everywhere; reproductive health care, everywhere,” Clinton said, urging people to continue “reaching out” and working to bring people who share those basic values across the nation together.
“Women’s issues aren’t minor issues,” she continued, firmly. “They’re not luxury issues to address after everything else is resolved. They are central to human rights to economies to our national security, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. There is nothing elitist about fighting for women’s rights, equality and opportunity.”
Clinton was particularly critical of the Trump administration’s efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and roll back funding for women’s health care both domestically and internationally. (The House is set to vote on a revised version of the American Health Care Act on Thursday.)
“Over the last 100 days, this Congress and administration have been working really hard to turn back health care ― to turn back health care for 24 million people, but it would affect 180 million people,” she said. “Even today, they’re trying to force through that health care plan.”
In a lighter moment, Clinton addressed her Twitter trolls (and Twitter trolls writ large), encouraging the women in the audience to persevere, even when confronted with depressing news and cruelty online.
“There are moments when just reading the news or scrolling through Twitter can be so depressing,” she said. “But I just want all those Twitter trolls out there to know that maybe if you had left us alone, we might have gone out longer in the woods for our walks. But every time you hit those 140 characters, demeaning and denying women’s voices and rights, we’re coming back at you.”
This speech came just a day after Clinton declared herself to be a member of the resistance, and later paraphrased the famous “don’t let the bastards grind you down” line from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.
“I’m back to being an active citizen and part of the resistance,” she told CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour.