Hillary Clinton just may run for president, although you won’t hear that from her … yet.
But in recent weeks, she has been upping her visibility, giving speeches, promoting her new book, and pushing Clinton Foundation initiatives. Today, she gave the keynote speech at the New America Foundation’s “Big Ideas for a New America” conference. Introduced by a former employee — Anne-Marie Slaughter, who worked with Clinton in the State Department and is now the president of the New America Foundation — Clinton was presumably in front of a progressive, like-minded crowd.
And, likewise, what she said echoed the concerns of progressives — expanding income inequality, the return to a “Gilded Age,” the disintegration of the American middle class, and so on.
It sounded like a campaign speech. Or, at least, a template for one. If she were to run, we can expect to hear more on the ideas she addressed today.
Below, we diagram the main points of her talk.
I have a moral foundation, inherited from my parents.
I think about what it must have been like, though, to have very difficult circumstances during my mother’s life, but never losing faith or hope in how far her children or grandchildren would eventually go.
And just as our parents gave us great things, we need to make a better country for our children.
That is really how America is supposed to work. Each generation striving to create opportunity for the next, planting trees that we will not be sitting in the shade of, but expecting others who will follow to be able to; not expecting to be handed anything on a silver platter, but believing that all of us would be given a fair shot at success if we were willing to do the work that was required
To fix America is to fix the middle class, and close gaps between men, women, majorities, and minorities.
When all our people believe they have the opportunity and are in fact due to participate fully in our economy and our democracy. The empirical evidence tells us that our society is healthiest and our economy grows fast when people in the middle are working and thriving and when people at the bottom believe that they can make their way into that broad-based middle.
We should be alarmed, because upward mobility in America is eroding.
More than four out of 10 children born into our lowest-income families never managed to climb out of relative poverty. Forget about getting rich. I am just talking about getting into, and staying there in, the middle class and that should not be as hard as it is now. And what is more, an almost equal percentage of kids who are born into the most affluent families stay there for life no matter what their effort. That is the opposite of the mobility we think of as a hallmark of America.
Seriously, Canada is looking better than us.
It was something of a wake-up call when it was recently reported that Canadian middle-class incomes are now higher than in the United States. They are working fewer hours for more pay than Americans are, enjoying a stronger safety net, living longer on average, and facing less income inequality. That is not how it is supposed to be.
My recent résumé strengthens my understanding of this.
Now as secretary of State, I saw all the way extreme inequality has corrupted other societies, hobbled growth, and left entire generations alienated and unmoored.
The solutions exist. We’ve seen them in action before, conveniently during a former Clinton administration.
The 1990s taught us that even in the face of difficult, long-term economic trends, it is possible, through smart policies and sound investments, to enjoy broad-based growth and shared prosperity.
Outreach to women.
American women, with the least education, less than high school education, and the lowest incomes are actually living shorter lives today than their mothers did. Shorter lives than women in any other major industrialized country. The only other place where we have seen such a reversal in life expectancy was among Russian men after the collapse of the Soviet Union. There is no single explanation as to why life expectancy is declining. But it correlates with unemployment and economic stress.
Outreach to the millennials.
We cannot wait, because we have a rising generation of young people, the so-called millennial generation. They are optimistic, tolerant, creative, generous as a cohort. They have so much potential, so much to contribute. They can be the participation generation, the innovation generation — not a lost generation.
But there’s hope for fixing the American government.
Why are some people across the political divide believing what they believe? Holding their values so strongly against what we believe to be right? We do not get back into a conversation that cuts across all those lines that divide us. It will be very difficult to tackle the economic and social problems that stand in the way of moving away from inequality toward greater equality, economically and socially. But I believe that the time has come.
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