Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright — who served under President Bill Clinton and was the first woman to hold the position of America’s top diplomat — has expressed deep concerns about President Donald Trump. Her new book Fascism: A Warning hits shelves soon, and with a title like that it couldn’t be better timed.
During an interview with NPR Albright stopped just short of calling Trump a fascist but she did make the stunning statement that he is “the most anti-democratic leader that I have studied in American history.” Much of Albright’s new book focuses on the grim reality that even countries with democratic systems can slide into fascism.
Albright referred to Trump’s inane “America First” agenda as an “unbelievable step backwards.” The president has been pushing for more isolationist policies. Albright contends that despite Trump’s rhetoric, a strong relationship between the United States and Europe is crucial to maintaining a strong American society. She also implied that the Trump administration fundamentally doesn’t understand how or why the Euro-Atlantic alliance works.
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The former Secretary of State also addressed the willful abdication of the role of global leader that America has been pursuing under the guidance of our clueless president.
“We’re not fulfilling the role that we’re supposed to. I believe very much that democracy in the United States is resilient [and] that people can be skeptical about things that are going on, but I really am afraid that we are taking things for granted,” Albright said of the current state of America.
Albright then zeroed in on one of the most frustrating, disingenuous Trumpian habits. The president is constantly playing the victim, both personally and as the figurehead of our country. He claims the “fake news”is unfair to him simply because he doesn’t like their unflattering coverage of his disastrous administration. He also pretends that the United States is a victim that gets taken advantage of constantly all around the world. Neither victimhood claim is true.
“What Trump is doing is making America seem like a victim,” Albright said. “Everything is somebody else’s fault: Countries are taking advantage of us. The Mexicans are sending drug dealers. Countries are not paying their dues. The trading system is unfair. And by making Americans seem like victims all the time, it then is able to, again, make the divisions stronger in terms of who is with us, who is not with us, and it’s totally anti-American foreign policy. And so I think it’s very, very worrisome in terms of this victimhood.”
“I don’t see America as a victim. I see America as the most powerful country in the world that has a role to play, standing up for democratic ideals and human rights across the board.”
Albright then pivoted to a specific discussion of the way in which Trump is undermining American democracy. She took particular note of his constant attacks on the free press, one of the few constants from a chaotic administration that changes its views and goals on most things without warning. She also rightfully pointed out Trump’s disgraceful treatment towards and the opinions he holds on minorities.
“What he’s trying to do is undermine the press and [he] has disdain for the judiciary, and the electoral process and minorities, and I think that his instincts are not ones that are democratic. He is interested, basically, I think, in exacerbating those divisions that I talked about. … I’ve picked up that phrase ‘see something, say something,”‘ and I am seeing some things that are the kinds of things that we have seen in other countries, and so I am saying not only should we say something, but we have to do something about it.”
The former Secretary of State should be commended for her brave words. More of our past leaders need to step forward and stop the continued normalization of Trump’s anti-democratic leanings. It’s not too late for fascism to come to America, and unless we band together to stop it, it may soon come to pass.