Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton talk democracy, authoritarianism and the power of optimism in Chicago

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Former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and their daughter, Chelsea, emphasized the importance of civic participation at a panel discussion in Chicago on Saturday, part of a weekendlong forum their Clinton Global Initiative held at the University of Chicago.

Only 35 percent of Americans between 18 and 29, compared with 81 percent of U.S. seniors and 55 percent of all Americans, say they will absolutely vote in the upcoming midterm elections, a recent survey found.

At Saturday’s event, billed as a conversation between the Clintons and Helene Gayle of the Chicago Community Trust, the former first family encouraged the hundreds of young people in attendance, most of them students, to remain optimistic and engaged in the democratic process even in the face of discouraging opposition.

“If you live in a democracy, the first and most important thing you can do is to fully participate,” Bill Clinton said. “If you don’t vote ’cause you think it doesn’t make any difference, you help to ensure it doesn’t make any difference — except it does. You make it more likely that everything you don’t like about today will happen tomorrow with greater force.”

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October 20, 2018 at 09:30PM

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