Criticizing the Bush administration’s push for tax cuts, Sen. Hillary Clinton LAW ’73 spoke vehemently Monday night at a Democratic fundraiser as she called for the reinstitution of policies that worked during the Clinton administration.
While most Yalies had gathered on Old Campus for Spring Fling on Monday, 11 Yale Democrats traveled to Southington for the Jefferson Jackson Bailey Dinner, held for an audience of 1,550 Democrats at the Aqua Turf Club. The event also included addresses by Hadassah Lieberman, the wife of presidential hopeful Sen. Joseph Lieberman ’64 LAW ’67, Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, and Chevy Chase, who served as the master of ceremonies.
Each of the speakers discussed Democratic priorities and their ongoing pride and determination in the face of what they called disappointing election results.
“I’m very optimistic,” Clinton said. “We have to be unafraid to stand up and say what we believe.”
Clinton was particularly critical of the Bush administration’s economic policies.
“Stop digging our country into this deficit ditch!” she said, calling the Bush administration’s plans “the most wrongheaded economic policies since Herbert Hoover.”
Clinton also said the Bush administration is seeking to turn back the clock on issues like education and the environment. She said the President secretly wants to do away with public education and Medicare, as well as undo the work of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Debate was also a focus of Clinton’s speech as she said dissenting voices have been unfairly labeled in light of recent events.
“I am sick and tired of people who call you unpatriotic if you disagree with this administration’s policies!” Clinton said.
She accused Republicans of being guided only by ideology and of feeling threatened by debate.
“Republicans don’t necessarily believe they have all the answers, but they believe they have a monopoly on the right to have answers,” she said.
Clinton also expressed support for Democrats, particularly Lieberman, in the current presidential and gubernatorial campaigns. She said she has fond memories of the time she spent in Connecticut as a Yale student and suggested that Lieberman take up the slogan “I still believe in a place called Yale.”
Despite a few hecklers who were removed by security, audience members received Clinton’s speech enthusiastically with cheering and a standing ovation.
Organizers estimated that the occasion raised over $350,000. Guests paid anywhere from $175 for cocktails and dinner to $2,500 for preferred seating and a private reception with Clinton and Chase.
Most of the Yale students who attended went as volunteers, either for the Democratic party or for particular candidates such as Lieberman and John Kerry ’66. They passed out buttons, helped register guests and worked as greeters.
Alicia Washington ’05, President of the Yale College Democrats, and Nazneen Mehta ’06, newly elected Secretary of the College Democrats of Connecticut, were invited guests.
Washington said she enjoyed the speeches and the excitement of being with others who are passionate about the beliefs they share.
“I thought Chevy Chase was a nice addition just because he added a little more levity,” Washington said. “Just having an entertainer in this room full of politicians and Democratic donors added a little something extra to the event.”
She also said Clinton’s speech was inspirational and made her proud to be a Democrat.
“Especially with the results of 2002 being such a disappointment for the Democratic party, [Monday] night proved that we’re still alive, we’re still vibrant and we still have the energy to go out there and fight for what we believe in,” Washington said.