The “red wave” predicted for the midterm elections did not occur partly because young people voted in greater numbers following the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of abortion rights, Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday (Dec. 2) at the Clinton Presidential Center.
Clinton said young people have seen the impact that elections, government decisions, and court rulings like Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization can have on their lives. She said in her campaign speeches, it’s always been difficult to connect current events with the future.
“The Dobbs decision broke through in a way that very little else in recent times has,” she said.
Clinton spoke at a panel discussion that also included her daughter, Dr. Chelsea Clinton, and was moderated by Dr. Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, dean of the Clinton School of Public Service. It was part of an international summit, “Women’s Voices, Women’s Votes, Women’s Rights.”
The summit also included panel discussions about women voters, women’s health and maternal health, women’s voices in the economy, Iranian women and human rights. The day’s last panel discussion was scheduled to cover women in leadership and would feature Hillary Rodham Clinton along with Julia Gillard, former prime minister of Australia, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former president of Liberia.
Clinton said the midterm elections were a small step in pushing back against those who want to undermine the voting system and Americans’ trust in each other. But while Democrats did better than expected, the elections were close.
“It was not what you would hope for: a big historic repudiation of people who gave allegiance to the ‘Big Lie,’” she said, referring to former President Donald Trump’s claim that he won the 2020 election. “You know, the Big Lie candidate for governor in Arizona nearly won. So we can’t say, ‘Oh, gee, the midterm elections were great.’ They were a big relief, but they were not enough.”
Soto noted that women have long voted in greater numbers than men, but only compose a quarter of elected officials.
In response, Chelsea Clinton said too many women say they admire her mother or Vice President Kamala Harris, but would never get involved in politics. Many women decide against it given what they face in corridors of power.
She said there has been “a concerted effort by the forces of darkness to take us backward.” She said she was taught sex education classes as a seventh-grader in Little Rock that were straightforward, referred to body parts by their names, and included information about contraception and abortion.
“The forces of darkness had a generational plan to try to silence women. We need a generational plan to ensure that we are never silenced again,” she said.
She started the discussion by referring to the Arkansas State Capitol monument honoring Confederate women that she had seen during her morning run. She noted that there are no monuments to the soldiers who fought for the Union. She said the battle for both the future and today runs through the stories we will tell ourselves about who we are, who has value, and who has a voice and a vote.
“Statues and stories matter. If they didn’t, the forces of darkness wouldn’t fight so hard to try to protect them,” she later said.
Hillary Clinton said a successful revisionist history effort led largely by women occurred after the Civil War that depicted it as a lost cause where the South stood up for its rights against the North. She said women should be included in the stories we tell about ourselves because it will determine the future we create.
On another topic, Soto said the United States has the highest maternal mortality rate of the 38 developed countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. It also is the only country other than Afghanistan and Sudan where the rate is rising.
Hillary Clinton said the rise is occurring largely in states that refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. Arkansas expanded Medicaid but has the nation’s highest maternal mortality rate.
She said some of the harshest restrictions against reproductive health care are in states that don’t provide health care to pregnant women. She said the higher rates are mostly related to income but also are related to race.