Leaked audio of a Hillary Clinton fundraiser that took place back in February is circulating today on social media. In the clip Hillary Clinton makes the case that a lot of Bernie Sanders’ supporters are young people buying into a false promise of free stuff and a political revolution that will never come.
The clip was originally published Tuesday by the Washington Free Beacon in a story focusing on another issue discussed at the fundraiser. The quote about Sanders’ supporters got picked up today and simplified on Twitter with the hashtag #BasementDwellers. Here’s the clip and Hillary’s comments about the right and left start around 7:20:
There is a…a strain of, on the one hand, the kind of populist, nationalist, xenophobic, discriminatory kind of approach that we hear too much of from the Republican candidates. And on the other side, there’s a just a deep desire to believe that, you know, we can have free college, free healthcare, that what we’ve done hasn’t gone far enough and we just need to, you know, go as far as, you know, Scandinavia, whatever that means, and half the people don’t know what that means, but it’s something that they deeply feel.
So as a friend of mine said the other day, I am occupying from the center-left to the center-right and I don’t have much company there. Because it is difficult when you’re running to be president and you understand how hard the job is. I don’t want to over-promise. I don’t want to tell people things that I know we cannot do. I want to level with the American people…and be very clear about the progress I think we can make.
Later on in the clip (about 24:30) Hillary talked in more detail about Sanders’ supporters, describing them as inexperienced people living in their parent’s basements and falling for the “false promise” of a political revolution. (Note: I haven’t transcribed this completely but missing portions are indicated by ellipses):
Some are new to politics completely, they’re children of the great recession and they are living in their parent’s basement. They feel they got their education and the jobs that are available to them are not at all what they envisioned for themselves. And they don’t see much of a future…That is a mindset that is really affecting their politics. And so if you’re feeling that you’re consigned to being a barista or some other job that doesn’t pay a lot and doesn’t have much of a ladder of opportunity attached to it then the idea that maybe, just maybe, you could be part of a political revolution is pretty appealing…
We’ve got ideals, we’ve got big goals but we also believe that the path to progress is one that you just have to get up everyday and work on. You have to make it your life’s work if you do this full time. You have to make it part of your civic responsibility for others and just keep making that case. It’s not as glamorous. It’s not as exciting. It doesn’t promise a revolution. I mean I’m still trying to understand the revolution part because here’s how I think about it—and Senator Sanders sort of alludes to this—in order to have the revolution, first we have to take back the Senate and get to 60 votes. Then we’ve got to take back the house and that may require some redistricting in order to get people out of safe Republican seats so they can be competitive again. I think we’re already in like year six or seven of a two-year term. So, you know those of us who understand this, who’ve been experienced, who have worked in it know that it’s a false promise. But I don’t think you tell idealistic people, particularly young people, that they’ve bought in to a false promise.
So, Hillary did mention people living in their parent’s basements but it’s also true that she was intending it to be sympathetic and not an outright insult like “basket of deplorables.” Getting beyond that one line, what she’s saying here is pretty interesting. She is basically making the case for incrementalism over the Sanders-style revolution. But she’s also doing it in a way that I suspect Sanders’ people will find fairly irritating.
Hillary Clinton is basically mocking the far left socialism that demands to know why we don’t have free everything right now. From this clip you can tell Hillary thinks these millennials have been sold a bill of goods. The revolution is a “false promise” because that’s not how things work in the real world. And she’s right. College grads living in their parent’s basement haven’t yet grasped the concept that someone always pays for their “free” stuff. And the people being asked to pay might have other things they’d like to do with their money.
The irony here is that since February when Clinton said this she has embraced Sanders’ free college plan (or something similar). As she said in this clip, you don’t want to tell young people they’ve bought into a false promise even if you believe that’s the case. Hillary needs those votes so she’s gotten into the business of making the same kind of free stuff pitch she criticized Sanders for in February.