I found Hilary Clinton’s Graduation Speech at Wellesley College absolutely fascinating. I recommend both listening to the speech and reading the accompanying article from the Washington Post, that offers additional history and analysis of Hillary Clinton’s past and her development into a political being. Clinton delivered this speech at her graduation from Wellesley College in 1969. Speeches by students were not typically given at Wellesley, in fact, Hillary Clinton did not even appear on the program for the day. But Clinton felt as though her classmates, through their constant efforts toward organization, activism and protest on number of defining issues of the time, had earned a voice. Clinton took it upon herself to be that voice. The speech made her famous almost overnight. All of a sudden she was a powerful symbol for student activism, mainly because of her impromptu correction of a comment made by the main speaker at the graduation, Sen. Edward Brooke of Massachusetts. If this speech tells us one thing it is that Clinton is nothing if not consistent. Her personality and tone from the the very beginning of her political life as a college student, to her current run for the presidency of the United States has remained decidedly “on message” even despite her party shift during her college years.
Clinton fleshed out her political beliefs in college grappling with her ideology both in terms of party, and in terms of how best to go about enacting change. She was careful and calculative right from the start, working with authority rather than blatantly denouncing it. She seemed to make up her mind early on that true change could not occur working outside of system, and believed strongly in top down approach to lasting change. This approach is still very much evident in Clinton’s political conduct and philosophy today.
Ideologically, I often find myself in direct conflict to Clinton’s philosophy of change through working within the bounds of the system that needs changing. I am not sure these two things can coexist. I do not fault Hillary Clinton for this view, rather I respect her clarity and decision to live a life based in an unwavering belief that the system itself can be a part of change. However, I do find myself instinctually pulled toward disagreement with this philosophy.
My tendency to disagree with this basis for a subsequent political ideology, illuminates an important and telling area where, I believe, many people may find themselves in ideological conflict with Clinton. She views change as gradual, the culmination of many interrelated steps taken when the system itself is ready to receive them. This election demonstrated that there are many Americans who disagree with this philosophy, seen most clearly in the successful campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. The system changing the system approach seems to be ringing false to a large percentage of the American populous, though the expression of this discontent comes out in radically different forms.
This article left me questioning; questioning both Hillary Clinton and myself. Can change really happen within the bounds of the system? Or does radical change only truly occur when the system itself is attacked and overthrown? Do you agree with Hillary Clinton’s guiding political philosophy? Lastly, how do you think this philosophy has effected her rhetoric throughout the years?