Hillary Clinton: Thank you.
Martin Wolf: I think we’re gonna be pretty straightforward.
I’m Martin Wolf, and this is Part 4 of my Financial Times series on saving democratic capitalism.
For this episode, I travelled to the heart of American democracy, to Washington, DC, where I’ve been given a rare one-hour slot to interview someone who’s been at the center of US politics for the last three decades — someone who’s felt the blast of the rise of populist politics at first hand. And she was in Washington, DC, as the star speaker of the FT Weekend Festival.
Hillary Clinton: Because of protocol, Putin had to sit between me and the president of Indonesia. He was not happy. So I’m sitting with him again. I’m going, I got to find some way to get him to talk. I got to hear, you know, I got to figure out what’s going on. So, yeah, that’s how I felt. (Crowd laughs) And then so . . .
Martin Wolf: And I have quite a few questions. So I’ll just start by saying, here I am with Hillary Rodham Clinton, former secretary of state of the United States, and we’re here to talk about the future of democracy.
Hillary Clinton: Mm-hmm.
Martin Wolf: So let me start with the sort of most obvious question. Do you consider democracy as we’ve known it to be endangered, even as some argue here in the United States? The president has argued this.
Hillary Clinton: I do believe that democracy is under tremendous pressure and it is at a tipping point in many parts of the world right now. In the United States, we’ve seen a consistent assault on democratic institutions, democratic values, like the rule of law. And that assault is ongoing. So the threat is ongoing.
Martin Wolf: And if you think about why this has happened, because I suppose 20, 30 years ago when you were actually in the White House, I don’t think any of us imagined. The Soviet Union had just fallen, democracy had triumphed. Maybe there were one or two who foresaw this. To what do you attribute this assault on democracy, pretty well in many, many parts of the world, and including in the the bastion of democracy, the United States? Is it economic change, cultural change, the new media, the nature of modern technology and the insecurity it’s created? To what do you attribute this? Or is it just bad actors?
Hillary Clinton: It’s all of the above. (Laughter) I think we’re still trying to sort out both all of the reasons and the proportionate responsibility that those reasons have. But you just reeled off a list of developments that I think are certainly contributory. So if I could, let me just say, you know, there’s always been tension in democracy in any self-governing society in which the extremes, whether they be the extremes of right or left of ideology or partisanship, of religious fundamentalism, whatever it might be, there’s always been a chafing at the structure and expectations of democracy. You mean I’m supposed to get along with someone who I think would go to hell? You mean that I have to talk to people about my tax rates when they should have nothing to say about what I should keep? So there’s always been this kind of tension, but it’s been relatively balanced for a long time. And certainly, you know, post-World War II and the cold war contrast between a self-proclaimed communist Soviet Union that was, you know, really an authoritarian totalitarian state versus the democracies of, you know, the west and Japan and South Korea and others that developed post-World War II. We have seen, as you referenced, the, quote, “end of history” with the fall of the Soviet Union. Of course, I always thought that was absurd. History never ends. I understood what Fukuyama and others were trying to say, that this was such an extraordinary moment in history, and the consequences of it were that we were hopefully on an upward trajectory that would really see the triumph of democracies worldwide.
News clip (Drum roll) From ABC, this is World News Tonight with Peter Jennings reporting tonight from Berlin. From the Berlin Wall specifically. Take a look at them. They’ve been there since last night. They are here in the tens of thousands, come to make the point that the wall has suddenly become irrelevant.
Hillary Clinton: And that lasted for a while. But then human nature once again reasserted itself. And people who seek power for the sake of power, people who wish to be authoritarian leaders without all the niceties of, you know, having to abide by democratic norms, began to emerge in a number of places.
Martin Wolf: One of the elements in this that has been much discussed, and I’d like your perspective on it, is what’s called particularly here in the US populism. And people, when they talk about it, seem to distinguish two aspects of populism. One is a generalised hostility to elites, and I often feel actually, particularly in the recent past, the last 10, 15, 20 years, you can understand why people will be pretty hostile to elites because they haven’t done very well. But then of course there’s another version which people are just anti-pluralist. What they are saying is we have a real people with a side that ought to win. And basically, since that’s the case, we’re allowed to do whatever we like. Do you think that this second form of populism, which seems so threatening, is actually now a vital force in our society, a desire essentially to purify the country that has, of course, unavoidably echoes of the 1930s?
Hillary Clinton: It does. And yes, I think that this antagonism toward pluralism, toward multiculturalism, toward globalization, whatever the terms are, that are being used to set up a straw man, because in effect, those who are advocating for purity, who believe that they have almost a God-given right to determine what society looks like — who’s in, who’s out, how people should have to behave, which is in accordance with, you know, their understanding of a power structure — has certainly come to the forefront. I think we’ve seen it most clearly in Hungary with the illiberal democracy language used by Orban, but it’s also kind of old-fashioned fascism that, you know, let’s begin to cleanse society of these unhealthy elements. You know, we want to be a Christian nation, a white Christian nation. We want to have the press only say good things about us because we are the chosen people. You know, all of that which we’ve seen unfold in Hungary. But I think that the first element of populism, which is the negative reaction to elites, certainly is part of the second. You know, how do you try to impose a belief that you shouldn’t vaccinate your children unless you try to rid society of the elites who have studied the medicine, who’ve invented the vaccines? So there is a kind of convergence because you have to undermine elites, whoever they are, in order to have a clearer understanding of who it is that’s on the right side of the society that you’re promoting in this anti-pluralistic, anti-rule of law, (laughter) anti-liberal democratic environment.
Martin Wolf: So paradoxically, in a way, part of this anti-elitism is against the people, the experts who run institutions which actually preserve our welfare and our freedom — for instance, the courts.
Hillary Clinton: And try to be, you know, run on facts and evidence, because the current breed of authoritarian populists, whatever we’re going to call them, really wants to substitute their view of society for any kind of elite opinion, even when that is rooted in fact and evidence, because what they are moving toward is a post-truth society where they get to define truth. And so when we think about the ridiculous, terrible fights we had over vaccines and a president who talked about injecting yourself with bleach and using medicine that helps cure farm animals of parasites, I mean, where did that come from? It came from this sense of entitlement and privilege to define the world in a way that benefits those who are in power, whether it’s in government or in the media or in religious institutions or business. They want to create their own alternative reality. And literally, we saw that on the very first day of Trump’s term when he didn’t like the fact that he had a very big crowd for his inauguration and ordered the National Park Service, which takes pictures of inaugurations, ‘cause I’ve been to a bunch of them, to not show those pictures or to show pictures that had more people in them. That was really the beginning of what had escaped notice for a lot of people in the 2016 election, which, you know, was this overwhelming desire for control. And that control, you know, leads to authoritarianism and leads to trying to decide what’s true and what isn’t.
Martin Wolf: If you look back at anti-pluralist, authoritarian movements in the last century, we’ve had leftwing ones and rightwing ones. But today, strikingly, the right seems to be much more effective than the left. Why is rightwing populism so much more effective than, if you like, the sort of movement that was there in Occupy Wall Street? All over the world, the left, it seems to be being sort of defeated by the right. What is it that the right offers that works so well, often with not particularly well-off people?
Hillary Clinton: Well, the right — and I can speak primarily about the United States, although I think it’s applicable for other places as well — the right has had a long-term strategy that combined several strains of rightwing institutional, personal, ideological strains, and they’ve been at it for decades. And after, you know, Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, he, you know, famously said he basically signed the death warrant for the Democratic party in the south. And you had a unholy alliance between, very frankly, segregationist, racist elements. In 1973, with the Roe vs Wade decision, there was a very clever, diabolical understanding on the part of the right that they could turn that into a political issue and rooted in evangelical fundamentalist churches. So you had old-fashioned racism marrying up with a quasi-religious movement that was rooted in the south but not exclusive to the south. You always had, you know, business leaders who were on the right, the John Birch Society and others who were always looking for ways to financially advantage themselves. Some of them slipped into libertarianism, but most of them stayed in this, you know, kind of rightwing coalition to elect people who would cut their taxes, who would deregulate the business environment, particularly when it came to the environment. It became a very clear coalescence of these different attitudes and priorities into a quite effective rightwing movement, which seeded media, you know, first talk radio, which was explosive and very powerful, and it was entertaining. I mean, you know, you called people names, you insulted people. It drew millions and millions of listeners, like Rush Limbaugh, who spouted craziness but in an entertaining, provocative way. News clip The views expressed by the host on this show are not necessarily those of the staff, management nor sponsors of this station, but they ought to be.
Hillary Clinton: Then you had Fox TV and Rupert Murdoch is, as far as I can tell, agnostic as long as he makes money. And he understood that he could make a lot of money appealing to these elements within our society that felt unheard, that felt marginalised, that felt the culture was against them. And so, you know, Fox News came on the scene in the ‘90s. News clip How did it happen? How did television news become so predictable and in some cases so boring? Few broadcast take any chances these days and most are very politically correct. Well, we’re going to try to be different.
Hillary Clinton: And you had a concerted effort to take over the courts to reverse the kind of liberal trend of the courts to enforce desegregation plans and the like. So this was not an accident, at least in our country. This was a, you know, very well thought out series of alliances and institution-building that has really come to full fruition in the 21st century.
Martin Wolf: So where does, from your point of view, and obviously you have a pretty painful experience with him, how does Trump fit into this as a phenomenon? Is he simply, as it were, the unexpected messenger of this movement, or is he some dynamic, extraordinary force of his own, which catalysed his support in a rather shocking way redolent of the ‘30s? Is he himself as an individual and what he embodies and who he is, really an important part of where we are now, because he did some crazy, shocking things? You think January 6 and what we know about that. The fact that the Republican party has never repudiated that event and constantly has actually embraced it, and all the conservatives who said this is all a lie about the election have been got rid of. I mean, it does look as though the movement has coalesced around a man who embodies all that we discuss in the most extreme form. And to most of us outside the US this is absolutely shocking and extraordinary. What role does he have in this?
Hillary Clinton: He is both messenger and catalyst. He always had a lust for power. He exercised it primarily in business. But if you go back and look at his past, he ran a full-page ad against Ronald Reagan. You know, he flirted with the idea of running for president before he injected himself in political activities. So I think he always had a very high narcissistic view of himself and his role in the world. And although he’ve been primarily and still is motivated by money, he began to spend enough time both listening and talking to people. And he had some clever kinds of advisers around him who whispered in his ear that he could embody a lot of the discontent and the anxiety and the insecurity that a modern society like the United States has spawned. So when he decided to start his campaign, you know, coming down his escalator, railing against immigrants, he knew that that would be very resonant. He had enough both instinctive understanding of that, even though he’d employed many, many, many immigrants, many of them illegal for many years to build his buildings and clean his golf courses and all the rest of it. But he instinctively, as well as was told by people that, you know, this is a big issue out there in the country. You know, folks are getting upset because these foreigners are moving into these small towns. They’re working on farms, they’re working in factories, they’re setting up restaurants with their own food. I mean, this is very threatening to a certain kind of American, primarily, but not exclusively in rural areas. So he, I think, had a theory of the case about what was possible and what became very clear to the sort of, as I once famously said, vast rightwing conspiracy, although there’s nothing conspiratorial, it was pretty much out in the open, was that this was a guy who could be their avatar. He could be their channel, he could say whatever he wanted to say, and he could clearly communicate. And he was a big man. He had a strongman, kind of, look to him. People thought he was rich because he played a rich guy on TV. So that he’d been, quote, successful in business, even though so much of that was just imaginary. So I think that he came at the right moment with a willingness to say or do anything. I mean, he’d been pro-choice. Ha, who cares? Throw that out the window. He’d, as I said, employed immigrants. Oh, who cares? Let’s demonise them. He’d actually had women in high positions in his business. Who cares? Let’s, you know, misogynise them as I do personally, but will do it politically. On and on the list goes. So I think it was a perfect storm, if you will. The man met the moment and the moment was waiting for the man.
Martin Wolf: I mean, I was actually struck with this because probably the only achievement of the Trump presidency from my point of view was Operation Warp Speed. Hillary Clinton Yes. Martin Wolf And they actually did the right thing.
Hillary Clinton: Yes, they did.
Martin Wolf : And it was a good thing for America and the world. Hillary Clinton Yes. Martin Wolf And he designed it quite happily.
Hillary Clinton: Yes.
Martin Wolf: Because his base doesn’t like it. So it does make one feel sometimes he’s the creature of his base as much as the master.
Hillary Clinton: He is now. And Warp Speed’s a perfect example because he kind of got out of the way, let the experts act, but he also winked and nodded at this, you know, very anti-scientific, anti-medical expertise constituency within his base that didn’t like vaccines and weren’t going to be vaccinated. Donald Trump Yeah, well, you know, everybody wanted a vaccine at that time, and I was able to do something that nobody else could have done — getting it done very, very rapidly. But I never was for mandates. I was, I thought the mandates were terrible. (Applause) And . . . Hillary Clinton It’s really ironic in a way, because I’ve said publicly before that if he had done a halfway decent job on Covid — I mean, not even a good job, just halfway decent — he might have eked out an electoral college victory. But because he was so absurd in the way that he talked and we saw him every afternoon on our television sets, you know, spouting nonsense, and women in particular moved away from him. So, ironically, what he wanted more than anything, which was to be re-elected, he sacrificed because he got too in the weeds with the really crazy anti-vax, anti-medicine, anti-expertise base that he had.
Martin Wolf So look at it from the point of view of the Democratic party. In retrospect, do you think it was a mistake to embrace globalisation, relatively liberal trade, openness to immigration, the cultural revolution that has been going on? Or whether some other mistakes that you’ve made, should you have pushed even harder to help people adjust to the, all these changes to make people feel less abandoned by government? Or is there something else? But I mean, obviously the Democratic party is doing fairly well. But objectively, if one looks at it in terms of policy, the right doesn’t offer anything, just saying, why aren’t you doing better?
Hillary Clinton: I think we’re doing very well. I mean, we had a, you know, a landslide victory for Biden in the popular vote. We did great in the 2018 and 2020 congressional races. We had some mistakes in 2022 in New York and California. That cost us the House of Representatives, but by a very narrow margin, unlike what had been predicted. So I think that there’s a lot that can be said about what everybody could have done better. I don’t see how you turn your back on globalisation. I don’t see how you turn your back on, you know, expanding freedom and opportunity for people. But I do think — and this is something I’ve said before — if you’re going to expand trade, then you have to actually do a better job of trying to deliver some kind of benefits for people who are gonna be on the losing end of that calculation. And we always did have a two-point program, which was go ahead, expand trade, but have what’s called trade adjustment and other kinds of investments. But the Republicans would never invest in that. So they would get the trade deals and then they would walk away from doing what many of us thought would have made, you know, marginal difference. I don’t want to overstate this because there are comparative advantages within the global economy that are difficult for any advanced economy to compete on. But having said that, I think we made, and this is both Democratic and Republican problems, I think we made a big mistake, you know, not doing more to subsidise and support certain supply chains. We saw that come home to roost during Covid. We’re seeing it now with a rather heroic effort by, you know, Biden’s team to reverse that when it comes to clean energy, solar, wind and chips manufacturing and a lot of things. So we now have an industrial policy which we haven’t had for a while. And so I do think that the Democratic party has made a major commitment to trying to deal with the economic underpinnings of the political situation. But I do not believe those are the primary drivers. I think it’s cultural. I think it’s not economic. Economic can play a role. And if all the, you know, incomes are rising, as they were in the ‘90s when Bill was there and had a tremendous economy where the bottom 20 per cent had actually greater gains and, you know, the top, and things were moving well and Bush came along and, you know, huge tax cuts didn’t pay for two wars and allowed the economy to go into a deep dive because they didn’t regulate and pay attention. Then we had to dig out of that ditch. And, you know, we have a record of Democratic presidents like my husband inheriting deficits and recessions and dealing with them. And then Obama, same thing, trying to recover the economy after the disaster that we had in the prior eight years. And then we have, 25 per cent of our entire debt is due to Trump and his irresponsible crazy tax cuts and his inability to make any real investments. Biden has dealt with that. So we are not the best storytellers because our stories are more complicated and they’re more difficult to put into a soundbite. I think Bill and Obama did a pretty good job. You know, it’s the economy, stupid. You know, hope and change. I mean, they did a good job of trying to capture the mood. But I also think Biden did a good job in 2020, saying it was a fight for the soul of the nation. People understood what that meant. Now he’s talking about getting the job finished. I don’t know if that’s very inspirational. He may have to come up with some other ways of talking about it. But it’s a see-saw, and it’s a see-saw in large measure because of these underlying cultural fears. I mean, think about the huge amount of time being spent banning books in major states like Florida, trying to eliminate medical care for people who think they are trans and want to transition — huge amounts of political energy. Why? Because we live in a complicated and somewhat scary world. And so the Republicans are once again going true to form. Get people scared, keep them scared, be scared of immigration, be scared of crime rising, which is mostly happening in the states they govern. And oh, by the way, ban books that, you know, you don’t want your children reading, even though you have no idea why. So, I mean, this is all part of the kind of yin and yang, the back and forth of politics. And so actually Biden’s in a pretty strong position, but it’s a long way between now and the election. Martin Wolf I have to say, obviously from my perspective, I say, European perspective, the idea that you would ban books and not guns . . .
Hillary Clinton: Isn’t it ridiculous?
Martin Wolf: . . . is pretty weird.
Hillary Clinton: Well, but that . . .
Martin Wolf: It’s pretty weird.
Hillary Clinton: But that’s the hold that this rightwing alliance has because guns are a big feature of it. And why do you need all these guns? Because those people. Who are those people? Are they black people, brown people, immigrant people, gay people? Who are those people? They may get you. And so it’s all part of a very fearful, you know, mindset that is being, you know, foisted on people politically.
Martin Wolf: So you rightly obviously described the racism, but there actually was a black president before a female one.
Hillary Clinton Mm-hmm.
Martin Wolf: So do you think, from your perspective, look at the abortion story, that actually misogyny is an even bigger element in this cultural story than racism? I have begun to wonder about that, and nobody would be more competent to comment on that than you.
Hillary Clinton: Well, you know, it’s often hard to choose between the two because they go hand in hand. Shirley Chisholm famously said, I’ve been black, I’ve been female . . . Shirley Chisholm But particularly in the political arena, I have found that I have met much more discrimination as a woman than being black.
Hillary Clinton: So I don’t have that experience. I can only speak from my own experience. And the misogyny, particularly now amplified and accelerated online, is truly extraordinary. The amount of viral content that is generated against women who poke their heads above the parapet, and not just in politics and government, but, you know, also in entertainment or academia or wherever they might be, is shocking to me. And so when I look at the pushback on women’s rights, when I read Jacinda Ardern’s comments . . . Jacinda Ardern As much as I have taken great joy in this job, I would be giving a disservice to this country and to the Labour party if I continued knowing that I just don’t have enough in the tank for another four years.
Hillary Clinton: Being a leader is a hard job. Being a woman leader I think has an extra dimension of both intensity and danger. But the most common thing that women in politics talk to me about, and not just in the United States, but I’ve had these conversations in the UK, in Ireland and in Canada is their absolute fear. I mean, Jo Cox was murdered by a Brexit fanatic. News clip Before 1 o’clock today. Jo Cox, MP for Batley and Spen borough was attacked in Market Street, Birstall. I am now very sad to report that she has died as a result of her injuries.
Hillary Clinton: I was just up with Chrystia Freeland, the deputy prime minister in Canada, doing an event with her and she, you know, was talking about the personal encounters and attacks, people saying vile things to her in person. Unnamed man Chrystia! Chrystia Freeland Yes? Unnamed man What the (bleep) you doing at Alberta? (Bleep) Get the (bleep) out of this province! Unnamed woman You don’t belong here.
Hillary Clinton: And then the out-of-control online version of that. So there’s something very troubling about what’s happening with this well-organised as well as a seeded misogyny that is now, you know, so omnipresent.
Martin Wolf: So that leads naturally to the next question, which is how big a factor in what you’re seeing and what you’re experiencing over the last 20 years, and particularly the last 10 or so, have social media been?
Hillary Clinton: Social media has been a huge driver of populism and of misogyny and of racism and of homophobia and everything that we’re seeing kind of played out. It has played a major role also in creating this post-truth world we find ourselves in. And it’s only going to get worse because, you know, the age of deepfakes is just beginning. The age of artificial intelligence, putting words in your mouth and making it seem as though you said something. And literally the ability to overcome that will be incredibly difficult. So I have a lot of complaints about social media. I particularly worry about how addictive they have made young people and the increasing anxiety, depression, eating disorders, everything that we’re seeing that is now much more provably connected to, you know, spending so much time on a screen, not being out in the so-called real world, but thinking that is the world that you have to be in and you have to judge yourself by the standards of that made-up world. So, yes, I think it’s had a huge impact on politics, which will only sadly get worse, and a huge impact on the sort of psychology and wellbeing of people, particularly young people.
Martin Wolf: To shift a bit, we did an interview in the, for this series with Anne Applebaum, who you must know.
Hillary Clinton: I do.
Martin Wolf: And she sort of argues that there is an international consortium, if you like, of autocracies trying to spread anti-democratic messages quite systematically in countries like yours and mine. Do you agree with that? Do you think we have done too little to counter this sort of organised conspiracy of autocracies, authoritarians over the last 10 years or so? And what should we be doing now to counter it?
Hillary Clinton: I think Anne is absolutely right and I am a huge admirer of her work. It’s some of the best writing out there about what’s happening inside societies and how it is part of a more organised autocratic alliance. I remember as secretary of state being in St Petersburg probably in 2011 or 12, having very vigorous arguments with Sergei Lavrov and others who at that time were toggling between Medvedev, who was president on his way out, as Putin, who was prime minister, became president again, and how Putin was driving this anti-LGBTQ agenda. It was in co-operation with the Russian Orthodox Church. It was very much intended to begin to separate out gay Russians from other Russians, but also then to send a message beyond Russia’s borders that this works. And you should think about doing it.
Vladimir Putin via interpreter: We have recently passed a law prohibiting propaganda, and not of homosexuality only, but of homosexuality and child abuse. Child sexual abuse. But this is nothing to do with persecuting individuals for their sexual orientation.
Hillary Clinton: Putin’s misogyny is obviously well known. He acted on it, you know, with individual women, but also, you know, doing things like limiting the laws to hold violent domestic abusers to account and things like that. So you had Putin kind of leading that charge and wrapping himself insofar as he could in a kind of white man Christian mantle. Then, you know, you had Orban, who, as you probably know, was literally sent to Oxford on a George Soros scholarship, going further with dog whistles about antisemitism, certainly a really vigorous anti-immigrant policy. So all of it began to kind of form. And then Brexit, which was a tissue of lies and manipulation of voters, kind of took it to the next level, like, OK, you know, a leader says something, you can pass a law, you can rant and rave in a speech, but what more can you do? Well, you can identify people by their thousands of data points which they have willingly handed over to Facebook and others. And then you can manipulate them because you now know more about them than they know about themselves. And so you can literally chart the step-by-step efforts. And you’ve got to give, you know, people on the other side, on the autocratic right side, a lot of credit because they understood what they were trying to do and they began to implement it. And it was not just an American or even a American and UK model because they were at the same time undermining elections in Europe. Putin was giving huge chunks of money to Le Pen in France. They were having oligarchs take over media so that you would limit the information available. They had a lot going on.
Martin Wolf: Do you support the efforts of the administration to have a sort of alliance of democracies?
Hillary Clinton: Absolutely,
Martin Wolf: And if so, how do you feel that can fit into the world? And how do you persuade, quote unquote, “non-aligned countries” that they should be on our side? There are some very big questions about how you actually do this. And this became obvious at the G7 meeting just now.
Hillary Clinton: Right. Right.
Martin Wolf: So how do you, how do you feel about this?
Hillary Clinton: I think it’s an important effort to try to figure out how to put together. It is a little bit like herding cats, because when you’re on the kind of liberal democratic side, you know, free speech, open thinking, all of that, which is really important and foundational values, you know, both limit in law or regulation or in conscience and psychology what people are willing to sign on to. But I don’t see the same intense commitment to it that I see on the right and have seen now for, you know, 25, 30 years. They have a team, they have funding. They try different things. You know, we’re more aspirational like, you know, please come together and protect the rule of law and minority rights and the free press and everything we care about. So, yeah, I think it’s important, but I don’t see it rising yet to the level of the kind of organised effort that it would need to be.
Martin Wolf: You say, you think this should be the organising principle for American foreign policy now?
Hillary Clinton: I think, I mean, certainly it is, you know, to me one of the leading organising principles now. Obviously we have to worry about Russia’s aggression and Chinese over-reach and everything else that’s going on. So it’s not like you can do one thing and call it a day. You’ve got to have a much broader view, but this is at least an alternative if it were well prepared and presented.
:Martin Wolf: So final question. 2024 presidential election.
Hillary Clinton Mm-hmm.
Martin Wolf: It is beginning to look this is gonna be Trump and Biden again.
Hillary Clinton Mmm.
Martin Wolf: Obviously, that depends on the health of these people. They’re not the youngest. I’ve had an interview just a couple of days ago with Larry Diamond, and he basically says this could be an absolutely decisive election for the future of the United States, that if Trump were to be elected with the sort of people he now has, with his vengeful temperament, it could do possibly irreparable damage to the institutions of democracy in the US and the society of the US. Do you share that view?
Hillary Clinton I do. I think if there were any scenario by which Donald Trump ended back up in the White House, it would be the death knell for democracy for our country right now. The desire, as you said, for him to wreak vengeance on anyone who questioned him or stood against him, his willingness to promote violence, vigilante justice, his refusal to accept responsibility for losing the election or for January 6 — all of that is incredibly dangerous. News clip . . . I think we have a breach of the Capitol.
Breach of the Capitol (Inaudible) . . .
(Sound of commotion)
Hillary Clinton: So at this moment, if the Republican primaries were held right now, I think Trump would be the nominee. Who knows what will happen next year, but their system rewards whoever wins with winner-take-all in their delegate selection. So he has a hardcore base, and as the field looks now, it seems hard to figure out who could beat him in those Republican primaries.
Martin Wolf: It should be added perhaps that DeSantis, different though he may be, is very much engaged in the culture wars in pretty disturbing ways.
Hillary Clinton: Yeah. I mean, he strikes me as a weak and desperate character who kind of got a list, like what would make evangelicals happy, what would, you know, set me up to be the great avatar of culture warrior. Let me do it. I don’t care what it means. I don’t even care if it’s doable. Let me do it.
Martin Wolf: Last 30 seconds, perhaps. And this, so let’s suppose you wanted to convince young people that it’s as important as this. I think many just, they don’t feel this. They feel democracy, that doesn’t work very well, and we’ve always had it. So what would you say to a young person why this is so important, why they have to vote and why their future is at risk?
Hillary Clinton: Well, actually, your premise is not right in the US right now. We’ve had a remarkable upswing in young voters coming out because of abortion, coming out because of guns, coming out because of fears that maybe personal to them based on race or being, you know, gay or a woman, whatever it might be. So we’ve been, as Democrats, very encouraged, because if you look at polling, the level of support for Democrats versus Republicans among young voters is off the charts. So it is a question of turnout. It’s not a question of persuasion. I think . . .
Martin Wolf: You have to get them out.
Hillary Clinton: Yes, you have to get them out. And that is going to be the big, you know, the big challenge as it often is in elections. But I’m actually pretty optimistic. I think that a Biden-Trump rematch favours us significantly, which is why the Republicans are doing everything they can to prevent people from voting. Black people, brown people, young people, you know, anybody they don’t think will vote for them — they’re trying to prevent from voting. So we have our hands full. But I think actually, if I were a betting person, I would bet on our odds more than theirs.
Martin Wolf: Secretary Clinton, thank you very, very much.
Hillary Clinton: Mm-hmm. Thank you.
Martin Wolf Well, that brings us to the end of this week’s episode of Saving Democratic Capitalism. And it would also bring us to the end of the entire series, but we’re giving you a bonus episode. I began this series by talking to my FT colleague Jonathan Darbyshire about why I thought democracy has been in retreat around the world. Tomorrow, you can hear us finish that conversation by discussing how we actually save democratic capitalism. Before I go, I should acknowledge the other people who made this episode possible. It was produced by Laurence Knight, with help from Samantha Giovinco and Sonja Hutson. Manuela Saragosa was the executive producer and Samantha Giovinco, the sound engineer. The FT’s global head of audio is Cheryl Brumley.
SEE THE ORIGINAL HERE