Hillary Clinton declared that there was a “crisis in our democracy” in a speech on Friday as she received a medal from Harvard University for her service to the country.
Clinton, who has frequently given a dour appraisal of America’s current political and social reality, was given the Radcliffe Medal, which honors those who have had a “transformative impact on society.”
Organizers said they chose Clinton because the former secretary of state was a human rights champion, as well as a “skilled legislator” and an “advocate of American leadership” on the world stage.
In her remarks, she did not mention President Trump by name, but took some not-so-veiled swipes at the White House -- talking about leaders who seek to polarize the nation, delegitimize news outlets and also spread fake news.
“Attempting to erase the line between fact and fiction, truth and reality is a core feature of authoritarianism,” she said.
As in previous speeches, Clinton painted a grim outlook for America's current state and she has made no secret of her opposition to what her 2016 opponent is doing.
“Right now we are living through a crisis in our democracy,” she said. “There are certainly not tanks in the street but what is happening today goes to the heart of who we are as a nation.”
“I say this not as a Democrat who lost an election, but an American afraid of losing a country,” she said.
In her remarks, she called for “democratic resilience” to combat that trend, and suggested finding ways to disagree respectfully, including combating fake news, voting and subscribing to a newspaper.
"It’s not easy to wade back into the fight, but that is what we must do,” she said.
She also called for empathy between people across political divides.
“I am optimistic about the future, because of how unbelievably tough we are proving to be,” she said, citing the Parkland students advocating for gun control as an example of an activist movement that gave her hope.
Clinton was introduced by former secretary of state and 2001 medalist Madeleine Albright, and engaged in a conversation onstage with Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.
In her remarks, Albright took her own swipe at the current administration.
“Hillary, being more diplomatic, wrote a book called ‘What Happened,” she said. “My book is called ‘Fascism.’”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.