Clinton rejects ‘tear it down’ culture in Atlanta book tour stop

Hillary Clinton said Monday she rejected judgmental “tear it down” talk that can dominate social media and influence young activists, echoing President Barack Obama’s criticism of the cancel “call-out culture.”

“I don’t understand this tear it down, revolution talk - whether it’s from the right or the left. I think it’s an excuse,” the former Democratic presidential nominee. “Compromise cannot be a dirty word in a democracy if you expect to maintain a democracy.”

She added: “If you think it’s your way or the highway, and you have a direct line to the almighty ... that’s a theocracy, not a democracy.”

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Her remarks came at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta’s book festival to promote her latest publication before a sold-out crowd of hundreds who crammed into the Dunwoody complex’s gym. 

She appeared onstage with her daughter, Chelsea, in a discussion moderated by Michelle Nunn, the 2014 Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate who is now a nonprofit executive. 

Clinton didn’t directly mention President Donald Trump, who narrowly defeated her in 2016. But she called for more consensus in U.S. politics and an end to partisan polarization that dominates the national political discussion. 

“It’s getting back to at least talking and listening to each other in order to have some common goals that can be pursued, whether they be revolutionary or incremental,” Clinton said. “I’ve never understood how you can make any type of change in a democracy when you can’t put people in a room and hammer out changes.”

She also praised U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, the newly-elected Marietta Democrat who is one of the women she and her daughter profiled in the new publication, the “Book of Gutsy Woman.”

“I’m in awe of how anyone takes a terrible personal tragedy and turns it into motivation – a mission to help others,” said Clinton of McBath, whose son’s shooting death helped motivate her to run for office. 

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Hillary Clinton didn’t receive a question about whether she would run for president again, though she’s said at a recent book tour stop she’s been urged by “many, many, many people” to wage another campaign. 

Chelsea Clinton, too, didn’t rule out a bid for political office, though she said she has no immediate plans to run. The younger Clinton also offered some frank advice to Barron Trump, the 13-year-old son of the president. 

“He has every right to a private childhood that every child in this country has. I feel so strongly about this because I don’t think it should be partisan to feel that way,” the she said, adding that the criticism he’s facing is not about him.

“I just hope that he can tune it out,” she said. “I hope that’s something we can all agree on.” 

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.