Fascinating interview with Noam Chomsky. Here are a few highlights.
How unusual is the election of Donald Trump? “Off the spectrum…never been anything like it” (and not in a good way). Trump has “no known ideology other than ‘me’.”
How dangerous is Trump? Trump is energizing/emboldening ultranationalists and neo-Nazis around the world. “The most predictable aspect of Trump is unpredictability…[that’s] very dangerous.” It’s “extremely hazardous to have an ignorant, thin-skinned megalomaniac” as president.
How responsible is the media for Trump? “They gave him enormous publicity…for ratings,” but the “real treachery of the media in this election was to avoid issues totally. Take a look at the massive coverage…one thing was missing – issues.” For instance, the media almost completely ignored the climate crisis.
Potential threats to free speech in the U.S.? There will be attacks on freedom of speech, but Chomsky doesn’t believe they will “get very far.”
The impact of fake news? combat it by being an educator, “bring people to understand that they should use their critical intelligence to evaluate what they read…It’s a bad thing but I think it can be overcome.”
How to reform the U.S. political system after this debacle of an election? Electoral college should be abolished, but it won’t be. System of apportionment of delegates gives disproportionate power to rural, conservative areas. Elections are almost bought – “huge amounts of money” go into elections. Representatives “do not represent their constituents.” “These are really serious problems.” “The American political system happens to be pretty regressive in its structure, probably wouldn’t even be tolerated by the European Court of Justice.”
Voters who refused to vote for “lesser of two evils” but instead voted for Stein, Johnson, stayed home, etc. People who did this made a “bad mistake.” First, morally, you have to vote against the “greater evil” if you “have any moral understanding.” Second, Clinton’s positions were “much better than Trump’s on every issue I can think of.”
Might Trump shake up the system in any good way? That’s a “terrible point,” the “same point…people said about Hitler in the early 30s…He’ll shake up the system in bad ways…If Clinton had won, she had some progressive programs, the left could have been organized to keeping her feet to the fire and pushing them through; what it will be doing is trying to protect rights that have been achieved from being destroyed – that’s completely regressive.”
Barack Obama’s foreign policy record? Good things: Obama moved towards normalization of relations with Cuba; the Paris climate accord was a step forward, albeit “nowhere near enough” and now in “great danger”; the Iran deal is “better to have…than not, and if Trump withdraws from it, many things could happen.”
Jill Stein’s (and others on the left) claims that Clinton would have been no better than Trump on climate change? “That’s just pure nonsense…[Clinton] called for having all U.S. households on renewable energy in four years; she supported the international agreements”; Clinton would have provided a “basis for moving on” with solving climate change, whereas in the case of Trump it’s “radically the opposite…a radical setback…the whole Republican Party” is in denial on climate science and wildly pro-fossil-fuels; to claim that this is the same as Clinton is just “madness.”