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August 9, 2018

STAY TUNED: Why I Left the GOP (with Steve Schmidt)


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Steve Schmidt was a top Republican strategist – until he left the party this June. He joins Preet to talk about Trump’s appeal, the silence of Congressional Republicans, and what’s next for principled conservatives.

Plus, Preet’s thoughts on the fireworks at the Paul Manafort trial.

Do you have a question for Preet? Tweet them to @PreetBharara with the hashtag #askpreet, email [email protected], or call 669-247-7338 and leave a voicemail.

[00:00:00.23] PREET: Steve Schmidt, thank you for being on the show. It’s great to have you.

[00:00:04.25] STEVE: Pleasure to be with you, thank you for having me.

 [00:00:06.24] PREET: So you have been in politics a long time, and I thought we’d start by talking about a fairly dramatic decision you made in recent weeks and read for the listeners, and for you, the beginning of a statement you made when you chose to leave the Republican party. And you said this, quote, “29 years and nine months ago, I registered to vote, and became a member of the Republican party which was founded in 1854, to oppose slavery and stand for the dignity of human life. Today, I renounce my membership in the REpublican party, it is fully the party of Trump.” And then you went on to say, about the party, “It is corrupt, indecent, and immoral. With the exception of a few governors like Baker, Hogan, and Kasich, it is filled with feckless cowards, who disgrace and dishonor the legacies of the party’s greatest leaders. The child separation policy is connected to the worst abuses of humanity in our history.” [00:01:01.02] And then you go on, also not mincing words, what made you make that decision, and use such strong language?

[00:01:11.03] STEVE: Well because I believe it, and I think that the Republican party has become a threat to liberal democracy in the United States, to our constitutional republic, and I think that’s tragic for the country because of the nature of our politics and the durability until now of the two party  system. I’ve always had a point of view that these two political parties are two of the most important institutions, not just in the history of the country, but in the history of the world for the advancement of human freedom and dignity. And each political party has put forward in times of existential crisis, in the nation’s history, it has put forward the leaders who have saved the country. In the 19th century the great Republican president, the greatest leader of the 91th century in my view, Abraham Lincoln saves the Union. [00:02:06.24] FDR, the greatest president of the 20th century, saves free market American capitalism and leads the allies in a war against the darkness of Nazi Germany, imperial Japan, and it saves the world and re orders the world. The degeneracy of the conservative movement, of the Republican party, into a scam in a racket, in a business that venerates now in a cult of personality Donald Trump, is dismaying to me.

[00:02:41.25] PREET: Whose fault is it? Whose fault is it, Steve?

[00:02:44.16] STEVE: You know I think if you were to go back and look at this, you know certainly Newt Gingrich is a typhoid marry of the devisiveness that exists in our politics. The toxicity, you know just two quick stories, I’ve always loved the story of the friendship between the late great Democratic senator, and Medal of Honor Recipient Daniel Inouye and Bob Dole, who spent years together recovering in an army hospital after their World War II wounds. And Inouye taught Dole to play Bridge, and one day Dole asks Inouye, “What are you gonna do when you get out of here?” And Inouye says, “I have, you know I have no idea. I never thought we were gonna get out of here.” And Dole has an elaborate plan, he’s gonna be, run for county attorney, he’s gonna finish law school, he’s gonna get elected to Congress, and when Inouye is elected to Congress he writes Dole a note, and he says, “Here I am, where are you?” [00:03:40.16] Of course when Inouye passes, his flag draped casket in the rotunda of the capitol, flanked by army soldiers in dress uniform at attention and an old man is wheeled those velvet ropes around that casket, and Bob Dole stands up and he salutes with his one good arm, his brother, his friend, his fierce partisan opponent, a man he loved, but before he stands up and does that he says, “Danny would never have wanted me, wanted to see me sitting in this wheelchair.” I mean, these men were fellow Americans. He loved Danny Inouye, he was not Daniel Inouye’s enemy, he was his opponent, and we lost that in American politics. And Gingrich is an avatar of that. That being said, historically the Republican party was the party of the north and the west. YOu look at the 20th century, presidents from California, Nixon and Reagan, the Republican party that we talk about today is the [00:04:40.00] Southern Republican party. When Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act there were exactly three Republicans elected to federal office, south of the Mason Dixon Line. This has become the party, lock stock and barrel, culturally rooted now in this era in George Wallace ism. It is a Southern Evangelical Christian party fueled by resentment, by racial grievance. One last thing, Preet. When you think about Ronald Reagan, that iconic Republican conservative president, WEstern president, what’s on his gravestone? It says, “I know in my heart that man is good, that what is right will eventually triumph over what is wrong, and there is worth and purpose in every human life.” That was Reaganism. Reaganism is profoundly distinct from the cruel, mean, and vile corrupt philosophy of Trumpism.

[00:05:40.13] PREET: So you’re no longer a REpublican. But are you still a conservative?

[00:05:43.22] STEVE: I’ve always considered myself a conservative in the sense that I think I have deep respect for our institutions, our history, I think all conservatives have a bit of fatalism in their heart about the human condition. I believe in a strong national defense, not military adventurism. I believe in the US led liberal global order. I believe in fiscal probity and responsibility.

[00:06:13.03] PREET: Right, so your views haven’t changed. I’m just trying to understand why you would leave now.

[00:06:17.28] STEVE: Not substantially, you know, the breaking point for me was the child separation policy.

[00:06:22.29] PREET: Yeah, why that?

[00:06:23.20] STEVE: Which is a moment over the line of redemption. Just extraordinary to see REpublican members of Congress cheerleading a policy where any member of the federal uniform service, border control, ICE, customs, someone with an American flag on their arm, would rip from a mother’s breast, a breast feeding child and separate them. In the United States of America. Again as I said int hat announcement, you know this harkens to the worst chapters in American history. Separation of Native American families, separation of African American families on the slave auction blocks, and to see this behavior being repeated, not in the 20th century but in the second decade towards the end of the second decade of the 21st century. You know it’s just too much. So fires are raging across the West. [00:07:21.24] And those fires are out of control, but fires are part of the life cycle of a forest. When a fire destroys a forest, it purifies it. And through that process of purification, the forest can grow anew and thrive.

[00:07:39.26] PREET: YOu want the Republican party to die and then rise again.

[00:07:43.23] STEVE: In order for the party of Lincoln and Eisenhower, and Reagan, and Grant to endure, to be redeemed, to be saved, the party of Trump must be politically annihilated and destroyed.

[00:08:01.23] PREET: Don’t hold back. So, as a personal matter. When you made these statements, and you made strong statements along the way before you renounced your party membership, had you gotten into fights with erstwhile Republican friends, were they mad at you? Do you have conversations with them? Do you try to persuade them? As a person who has all these relationships, throughout the party, over the course of decades and service, what’s that like for you?

[00:08:24.25] STEVE: Yeah I joke around, I was a huge fan of the TV show The Americans. I just thought it was beyond brilliant, I think it belongs with the Sopranos and The Wire, I think it’s one of the three great shows that has ever aired on a American television. But I grew up in the 1980s, I was a child of the Reagan era, and when you go through that series and the Jennings, Keri Russell tells the daughter that in fact the Russian spies, you know I look back on my own life thinking about that period of time in the 1980s that the show is focused on, and I know for sure if my parents told me that, I would have walked across the street to the FBI agent who was our neighbor and turned them in.

[00:09:11.16] PREET: (Laughin) OKay.

[00:09:12.21] STEVE: There’s nothing more important to me than the country. And I have a very strong point of view that we are trustees of the greatest inheritance that could ever be bestowed to any person born on this planet. And that is to be an American. Not a conservative, not a liberal, I don’t care if you’re a left handed Democratic socialist from Brooklyn. And so yes, I’ve lost friendships, I’ve had heated arguments, I find that painful. But for me, I’m at peace with what I’m saying for two reasons: one, I deeply believe it. And two, the things that I”m saying I believe need saying in an hour of crisis where what has become very clear to me as we watch Trump operate in this era is that our institutions and liberal democracy itself are much more fragile [00:10:12.29] than we otherwise thought they might be.

[00:10:16.04] PREET: So you mentioned Newt Gingrich, as somebody who is responsible for the state we’re in today. Now he’s been around a long time though, and has not been in office for many, many years. Are there other people that you put blame on for the predicament of the Republican party becoming this cult of personality? I mean I know Trump has not been on the scene politically for that long, although he’s been on the scene otherwise. Who are the other folks that, as you think about the history….

[00:10:41.14] STEVE: You know the strain, the strain of anti intellectualism, and its acceptance, was advanced certainly by Sarah Palin, who I have familiarity with. I always look back, not to the moment of her ascension, where frankly you know, it certainly was the case that I didn’t know until a couple days after we picked her that she didn’t know anything. But a period of time after it was clear to everybody that she knew nothing, right? Which was on the occasion of her resignation from the governor’s office.

[00:11:11.14] PREET: But can I stop you there, Steve? You were one of the people who recommended her to be the running mate for John McCain. What kind of vetting was there to not know that she was ignorant?

[00:11:19.13] STEVE: Oh the vetting, I mean I’ve talked about this over the years. You know when I took over the campaign actually, one of the two responsibilities I wasn’t given, was the selection and the VP vetting. And so the vetting process was profoundly broken. I’ve talked about it. You know somebody you know who is profoundly unqualified, I think both psychologically, intellectually, and temperamentally, was nominated into a position that would have put them one heartbeat away from the presidency.

[00:11:46.22] PREET: And so do you see a straight line from Sarah Palin to Donald Trump? A dotted line? A curvy line? Any kind of line?

[00:11:52.23] STEVE: LEt me say this on that, going back to the occasion of her resignation from the governor’s office. I was always struck because I remember watching it, and if this was your sister, your mother, or friend, you’d say, “Well we have an intervention here, is somebody…this is somebody clearly in psychological distress.” The resignation statement was incoherent and I remember watching it live on TV, and saying, “Well finally now she’s completely exposed.” And I remember like it was yesterday watching the FOX panel afterwards and commentary, you know across the conservative media universe went, you know generally speaking, people were like, “Well it was a great announcement, she’d be a great presidential candidate in 2012.” And you know this was at this moment in time where we see the rise of Christine O’Donnell, we see the rise of all these wacko bird Republican candidates and between the 2010, 2012 cycle, [00:12:51.13] the Democrats take six or seven Republican seats because of all the nutty candidates. And so, what you saw was in this moment in time where the Democrats controlled all the levers of power, is that leadership transferred in the Republican party away from the elected political leaders, to the talk radio hosts. That the measure of who was a conservative was who had fidelity to the most outrageous statement made on any given day, by the talk radio hosts. YOu know chiefly amongst them mostly, Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh. By the time you get to Rush Limbaugh calling Sandra Fluke a slut, in the 2012 election which the Republican nominee, a man of public virtue and probity, and dignity would not repudiate, you have a situation where well, the test of conservatism is I guess agreeing with Rush Limbaugh that Sandra Fluke is a slut. [00:13:50.08] And so if you go back to the 2012 race, the mainstream acceptance of birtherism, the failure to condemn it. The mainstreaming of Donald Trump into American political life by the Romney campaign,  the multiple occasions where Romney visited with him, courted his political support, all of it.

[00:14:12.12] PREET: But is it fair just to blame the people who, like, Sarah Palin, I mean she got elected. Trump got elected. People voted for those folks. You know it’s an unpopular thing, I rarely hear politicians blame voters, but what do you think about that? Why do people like that get elected if you think they’re so horrendous?

[00:14:33.11] STEVE: Well I think that, you know this is coming to my cold dark conservative heart, Preet. Right, you know I talked about the human condition….

[00:14:41.03] PREET: (Laughing) We’re already there.

[00:14:42.12] STEVE: …you know as Churchill talked about, in a democracy the people get the leaders they deserve. And in this past election, in a race where if you had taken a bunch of us who have involved at the highest levels of presidential campaigns, and you blinded us from the poll numbers, we didn’t know who the candidate was, just saw the numbers, and you looked at Hillary’s numbers and Donald Trump’s numbers, you could say neither one of these people could ever get elected president of the United States. Now, there’s an exception to every rule, and here it is: when one unelectable candidate runs against another unelectable candidate, one of the unelectable candidates is gonna win. And by 78,000 votes, losing the popular vote by 3 million across three states, Donald Trump was very narrowly elected the president of the United States. And so here we are. [00:15:36.02] NOw, the collapse of trust in institutions, is a real thing. The crisis of trust, faith, and belief, which are the lubricants of the engine of democracy, is a real thing. The defining event of this generation in American life, if it’s not the attacks on 9/11, it was the economic collapse in 2008. I think there’s a new fault line forming, and that the fault line is a horizontal line. You have a group of people at the top of the line that are living longer and more prosperously than any human beings in the history of the world. YOu have, below that, a vestigial middle class that believes three things, that their misfortune from financial calamity, their kids will be worse off and there’s a much greater chance that they’ll fall into the bottom 40 percent or so of the country. [00:16:29.04] 42 percent of the country doesn’t have 400 dollars cash available, there are more payday lenders than Starbucks, there are declining life expectancies for white men, first time in the history of the country, we see rising maternal labor death rates, we see rising infant mortality rates, we see an opioid epidemic disproportionately in this category of Americans that’s gonna kill 5 to 750,000 people. We see a revulsion against the self interested policies of the elite. And so, what did people see 2008? They saw the bankers on Wall Street get a trillion dollars of bailouts, keep their eight figure bonuses, no one went to jail, 13 million American families got a foreclosure notice, no small number of them with deputy sheriff on the front lawn telling them they have 45 minutes to get their shit on the curb. 12 million Americans lose their jobs. And so at a time of profound [00:17:29.19] technological transformation, globalization, economic dislocation, there is real anger and there is real self interest and there is real corruption. And this phenomenon is playing out all over the world. YOu see it manifested in Britain with Brexit. You see it in the Le Pen movement in France. You see it with the ascendency of authoritarianism governments in Poland, in Hungary, in Austria, in Italy…

[00:18:01.08] PREET: Right so there’s a lot of anger, and so for politicians to be successful, must they mirror and stoke and encourage that anger? Is that what Trump did?

[00:18:10.07] STEVE: Yeah absolutely. YOu know fear is the fuel of the Trump moment, and you can make an argument in these periods in American life that the battle between fear and hope, between love and hate, between progress and regression is not only constant, but the defining constant in America’s political life. In the early 1930s as fascism was rising across Europe, did FDR stand on the dais at the capitol and talk about his policy prescriptions as the first order of business, or did he say to the country, “The only thing we have to fear itself”? Right? He understood that American life in politics, that fear is a contagion and it causes bad things to happen.

[00:19:07.13] PREET: What circumstances have to be present for the message of fear to win out over the message of hope? Is it about the messenger, or is it about something else?

[00:19:13.25] STEVE: Well, let’s look at what Trump is doing right now. Right? There are five specific things, behaviors, that I think are deliberate, and not accidental. First thing we’re seeing is that Donald Trump incites fervor, creates a cult of personality, through mass rallies and constant lying. Second thing he does is he scapegoats vulnerable minority populations and assigns blame to them for every complex problem the country and the world is facing. Guatemalan children, for instance. The third thing he does is he alleges conspiracies, that there is an active conspiracy hidden and unseen, the deep state, that is harming. The fourth thing he does, the victims, his base, right? He creates a sense of mass victimization, you turn on FOX News, [00:20:12.18] there is no higher virtue in Trumpistan than being a victim. Now, what Trump understood distinct from Sarah Palin, who always cast herself as a victim, is that victims will never pick another victim to lead them. They need a leader to validate their victimization and that’s what Trump does. And then the last thing he does is he asserts the necessity of exercising powers that heretofore, no one ever imagined an American president claiming he could exercise, for the purpose of protecting the victims, against the conspiracy and the scapegoated minority populations, and to require in exchange only one thing, the subversion of personal sovereignty, your intellect, and objective truth itself, to submit to this idea, that truth is what the leader says is true. [00:21:11.21] Truth is what the leader believes is true, no matter what evidence is plainly before your eyes. And that is happening in the country for 40 percent of the population, right now.

[00:21:25.05] PREET: That’s about, Steve, as good and articulate a five pillar expression of Donald Trump’s strategy, if you expanded on it, you could have a nice little pamphlet and manifesto. Do you think that Donald Trump and the people around him are that intentional and strategic? Or does he just do these things intuitively, and then people like you impose a sort of set of principles and strategies upon the conduct that he’s engaging in?

[00:21:55.09] STEVE: No I think it’s deli…listen, Trump found his way to this. He thought a presidential campaign would increase brand value, you know when it took off and he started winning, the ideologists, you know, I don’t think Trump necessarily believes any of this stuff. I think it, I think he thinks it works for him.

[00:22:15.06] PREET: I don’t know that he believes anything at all.

[00:22:16.10] STEVE: Right, that he’s a, he’s just a demagogue who has an instinct for power and is a fetishizer of autocrats. Now, Steve Bannon, and Stephen Miller, and the ideologists around him, they all believe this stuff, right? And so you have the meeting of the ideologists, with a blank slate demagogue, and then you have a cowardly political class of Republicans in washington who don’t believe in any of this stuff, but are too afraid to stand up to it.

[00:22:49.21] PREET: WHy is that?

[00:22:51.01] STEVE: Well, you know for a couple of reasons, but you know chiefly amongst them, we have eviscerated the middle in American life. These members of congress have a finely honed instinct for self preservation. And the self preservation overrides institutional preservation. So they look and they say, “Well, I’m in a plus 30 percent Trump district, my only vulnerability is in a primary, so I’m not gonna do anything to offend these people.” Now the institutional preservation would lead you to say the party won’t survive this, when you just simply look at the economic trends, the size of the millennial generation, the increasing share of participation of women in the electorate. But the institutional preservation is secondary to the individual preservation, and so…

[00:23:43.25] PREET: But that’s sort of always been true, hasn’t it always been true that it’s sort of every man for himself in Congress, or in the state legislature?

[00:23:49.04] STEVE: Well, think about it this way, you know a couple years ago you have Joe Wilson, member of South Carolina, reportedly drunk on the floor of the House who shouts at the first African American president, delivering his State of the Union, he shouts, “You lie.” Now, not too many years before he did that if he had, he would have been taken out of that place by his ear, and he would have been called on to resign by leaders of both parties, and he would have been out of the Congress. What happened to Joe Wilson?

[00:24:17.16] PREET: He became a mini celebrity.

[00:24:19.05] STEVE: He becomes a celebrity, he raises millions of dollars overnight. So if you’re some poor congressional schlub crossing the street from your house office building to the Congressional Campaign Committee building to raise money for 10 hours in a day, 500 dollars at a time. What is Joe Wilson’s behavior teach you? Right? And I do believe in markets as a conservative, right? So if you incentivize and reward crazy behavior, you get more of it. If you punish it, you get less of it. We have a system that incentivizes and rewards the craziest people, right? In American life and politics, in a system now, where the voters no longer pick politicians, but rather the politicians through the sophistication of the gerrymandering and redistricting process, pick their voters.

[00:25:11.13] PREET: So, what’s the future for people in the middle? For moderates? YOu know, they’re boring, they don’t impose their views of fear or hope, they just sort of work hard and they’re neither overly conservative or overly liberal. Sometimes they vote for Democrats like Obama, sometimes they vote for Republicans like Reagan…is there room in the future in America for people who are sort of moderate?

[00:25:34.21] STEVE: Well, we live in a country where, except for our politics, we have a choice of 500 TV channels, 50 types of peanut butter in the supermarket, right? I don’t think American politics is immune to this. So my point of view would be that DOnald Trump’s contact, and ascension to the executive office of president, will profoundly disrupt for a long time, American politics. You may well see a third party. You may see independent movements. We’ll see what happens, but before very long there’s gonna be a snap back to it.

[00:26:14.17] PREET: Can we talk about John McCain, who you worked for on multiple campaigns. Let me suggest something radical, is there an argument in your mind that John McCain should caucus with the Democrats in the senate to be something of a check on Donald Trump and all these terrible things you think he’s doing to the country?

[00:26:32.21] STEVE: I think everybody’s familiar with Senator McCain’s fight, medical fight, right now and I think that he has left the country a great gift, that will endure for many years in his final book, where he talks about the importance of the United States, the importance of democracy, but I think for John McCain, it’s not John McCain’s burden anymore, it’s another younger generation of Republican leaders. It is men like Corker. It is men like Flake, it is Republicans who are leaving their public service and have we seen enough evidence to suggest that well, is the answer Chuck Schumer as majority leader? I would argue no, but put the majority leader title into the hands of somebody who will exercise appropriate oversight over what I think is an increasingly reckless, dangerous, and lawless administration.

[00:27:32.04] PREET: So what do you think about people like Flake and Corker who are leaving? Should they stay and fight?

[00:27:37.29] STEVE: I think it’s a personal decision, you know when to end a career in public service, you know the founders never intended that people would be career politicians. You know what I would like to see is a class of political leaders in the country that are willing to lay down political careers, if they must, you know to defend the idea of the constitutional republic. To defend Americanism. I mean, one of the reasons the United States became the most powerful economic and military power in the 20th century is because we were the first country to have mandatory public education. And the idea of that was not uncontroversial when it was proposed in the 19th century. But when the proponents of it made an argument why we needed it. It wasn’t because we wanted to produce bankers and engineers. The purpose of a public education system at the time was argued we needed it to produce good citizens. I think we have [00:28:37.15] a civics education crisis in this country. I think the Trump presidency is a manifestation of it to some degree. There needs to be more and louder and consistent voices other than John McCain. Right? Who speak to the importance of the American experiment. And I think that the people in there, as a general proposition, have been ranging from lacking to timid to outright complicit and trying to subvert an investigation into the real factual, it happened meddling of a hostile foreign power, Russia, into our sovereignty and election process. And that’s the Jim Jordans, the Matt Gaetz, the Mark Meadows, the Devin Nunes’s, who are really fundamentally advancing through their congressional offices the strategic interests of the Russian federation. In this very moment.

[00:29:34.21] PREET: Would you like to see each of those men defeated?

[00:29:36.18] STEVE: Absolutely. They’re unfit. They’re unfit to serve in the Congress, and in my, in my view they are not faithful to their oaths of office, in a profound way.

[00:29:48.12] PREET: Do you talk to John McCain from time to time?

[00:29:52.07] STEVE: I talked to him some months ago, had a good conversation, and you know he is an extraordinary American. As he says in his book, you know, “A fight not joined is a fight not enjoyed.” He’s in a hell of a personal fight right now, and when you consider his life, you know, he’s somebody who put the uniform on at Anapolis at 17 years old, and with the exception of the time he spent as a candidate between his retirement from the Navy and his swearing into the Congress, except for a couple months, he spent every hour of his adult life in service to the United States of America. And there’ll never be another guy like him. A big life. An impactful life.

[00:30:37.29] PREET: What do you think he hopes his legacy will be?

[00:30:40.00] STEVE: He speaks to it in his book. That he fought the good fight, you know that he played a role that he made a difference. And I was in Vietnam in April, and he’s revered in Vietnam. And one of the most extraordinary aspects of McCain’s career, and I don’t think a lot of people know this about him but one of his duties when he was in prison he was the chaplain. But one of the things that John McCain has done throughout his life is this notion of forgiveness, of redemption. And along with John Kerry, a man who three purple hearts, silver star, combat veteran of the Vietnam war, Pete Peterson, another POW. These three men, the two senators and the congressman, were instrumental in the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the United States.

[00:31:30.20] PREET: Yes.

[00:31:31.14] STEVE: And, this is the first generation of Vietnamese, right, that are born after 1985, in a thousand years, that are living in both independence and peace. And they’re focused on the future. And you can go to Vietnam, and you can see the friendship that can grow between the United States and Vietnam. When you consider that there are US Naval warships, including the USS John McCain who have made port visits to Vietnam, the forgiveness, the redemption, the reconciliation, is an important chapter of McCain’s story. He is a warrior, yes, but also a peacemaker.

[00:32:16.23] PREET: I think that’s all fair. Can I ask you, you know you speak very passionately and articulately about not just politics, but policy and values…and you’ve always said you’re the guy behind the scenes. You care deeply about politics, you’ve spent all nighters many many times in your life advocating for other candidates—how come not you?

[00:32:36.01] STEVE: (Laughs) You know I don’t know, I’ve never thought about it, to be honest with you. I’ve spent my career inside the campaigns, you know I had an opportunity to you know, work in a White House, and had some interesting experiences there, but you know I have young kids, I’m 47, you know hopefully you’ve got a couple more miles around the track. You know, you never say never, you never know what’s gonna happen in life, but you know in the 1930s fascism rose, not because it was strong, but because democracy was weak. And I’ve spent my political career, really my first paid job in politics from age 22 in 1992, finishing college, through now in this next election, you know I’ll be turning 50 years old. [00:33:25.17] And so I’ve watched the degeneracy, like a frog in a pot of boiling water. And anybody who’s played at the highest level of American politics like I have, none of us have clean hands in this, but, you know have watched our politics coursing, hour by hour, year by year, until we arrive at a point where you ask people, as a Harvard professor did in a study who were born in the 1930s, you know how essential is it to live in a democracy? And you know the answer’s at 85 percent. And he asked the people born in the 1980s, and the answer is 25 percent. And this is worrying, it’s concerning, and you know, watching what’s unfolded in the last 18 months, from my perspective, you know I’m not okay with it. It’s a new experience for me to [00:34:18.17] be talking about some of the things I’ve been talking about, and to, hopefully trying to frame some of them in a historical context. You know to communicate to people, everybody believes in the moment that they live in that it’s either the best of times or it’s the worst of times, and it’s neither, the country is resilient, it’s faced existential crises greater than Donald Trump. But, no one should mistake that Donald trump isn’t a crisis, it is. And what we have in this country, and what’s been bequeathed to us, isn’t necessarily self enduring. And I think we see that in spades.

[00:34:58.21] PREET: Steve Schmidt, we’re sadly out of time, I’d love to have you back, thank you for speaking with principle and with frankness. On TV all the time I watch you and today on the show.

[00:35:08.19] STEVE: Thanks, Preet. Great to be with you.


STAY TUNED: Why I Left the GOP (with Steve Schmidt)