Americans have always accepted a degree of inequality, inequality of outcomes. What seems to have changed in recent years, or at least in people’s perception of it, is…that there seems to be growing inequality of starting place.
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Donald Trump is not an American phenomenon, solely an American phenomenon. We see Trumps emerging all across the West, all across Europe—Western Europe and Eastern Europe. And they are repeating themselves in very similar ways.
There’s always been this strain, particularly in American politics, a skepticism about politicians. We’re in one of these periods where there is such skepticism, but it runs deeper.
I have known Hillary for almost thirty years. And I hope that when this conference takes place, she’s been elected president. We share common values, political values. But also I think that these are deeply rooted in our own personal experiences. And these values we’ve defended against all sorts of people who have used whatever means that they could, many of them underhanded, in order to try and destroy reputations, attack people personally, to engage in what we’ve called the politics of personal destruction, but for political advantage and gain.
Lincoln spoke of the United States as the last best hope on earth because the United States was the last, and only, and first, successful Democratic Republic in the world.
I think there’s a great deal of naiveté about how politics actually works. And this is where either wing—the Trump wing or the Sanders wing—don’t understand how politics actually works in Washington.
This emerging narrative of catastrophe is putting enormous pressure on all our political beliefs. Now there’s still some conservative parties, some US Republicans for example, who deny the basic facts, but we can be pretty sure I think that any politics that denies the facts doesn’t have much of a future.
I think that politics has always been susceptible to conversion so that it’s not actually about living people it’s about signaling membership within a particular community.
There are these two basic fundamental fears, these ur-fears that are rippling through our societies. The first is the fear of complexity, and the second is the fear of change.
In America now, you can defend the humanities but only on economic grounds. So a theater improves a neighborhood. Or many people who study English become McKinsey consultants. But the fact is that you do it for itself, intrinsically, and you do it for the cultivation of the person and the cultivation of the citizen. Which should be reward enough.