To a warmly receptive audience of about 900 Business Council of Westchester members and guests Monday night, Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke of her concern for a divided nation and the impact of new Republican policies and continued Russian meddling in democracy while offering hope and confidence that Americans will join again in common cause “to achieve a more perfect union.”
A record-setting audience for the Business Council’s annual fall dinner at the Hilton Westchester came to hear, cheer and photograph with their smartphones the Chappaqua resident, former U.S. senator and secretary of state, and first woman from a major political party to seek the presidency, who received the group’s Global Leadership Laureate Award. Business Council of Westchester President and CEO Marsha Gordon in presenting the award cited Clinton for “galvanizing a global movement for women’s opportunities.”
Despite the unfavorable views of her that she said her history-making bid for the presidency aroused, Clinton in her speech urged women to enter the political arena. “The only way to get sexism out of politics is to get more women into politics,” she said.
Some in the crowd brought copies of her most recent book, “What Happened,” for her autograph. Written at the Clintons’ home in Chappaqua following her defeat in the 2016 election despite her popular-vote majority, the book “was admittedly a somewhat painful process,” she said, yet “cathartic and invigorating.”
“I used to feel I had to be careful what I said in public and always keep my guard up. Well, those days are over,” she said to applause.
“As an American, I’m concerned,” she said, citing domestic policies of the Republican-controlled Congress and Trump administration and Russia’s attempts to undermine democracy and sow political division here. “There’s a lot to be worried about.”
Clinton cited the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which she described as the product of bipartisan legislation, for which Congress has not renewed funding and will allow to expire at the end of this year. “Nine million kids and their families are going to be told that this program, which was a federal-state partnership, is not going to continue,” she said. “I’m just heartsick.”
Clinton said the GOP tax plan making its way through Congress “takes aim at counties like Westchester …It’s going to hurt a lot of individual Americans and end up raising taxes on a majority of Americans.”
The deep corporate tax cuts in the plan are not likely to stimulate more jobs-creating investment by businesses, as its Republican proponents have claimed, she said. Instead the tax overhaul “will benefit a very, very few Americans.”
Clinton warned that the “information warfare” used by Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 election remains “a clear and present danger.” The Russian government under Vladimir Putin continues “to fan the flames of division in our country,” she said.
“This is bigger than one election, one candidate and even one country. And we really have to do something about it. There is no doubt in my mind that having succeeded, they’re not going to go home. They’re going to keep working to get better.”
“No foreign power in history has attacked the United States with so few consequences,” she added.
“I am so hung up on this idea that we have to work together” and compromise “to achieve a more perfect union,” Clinton said, quoting from the preamble to the U.S. Constitution. Americans must “try to find common ground to make decisions based on evidence, reason and facts.”
“I come to you tonight with great hopes and confidence that America’s best days are ahead of us,” Clinton said in closing. “We have to work together to make it happen.”