Hillary Clinton says that the rise of populist leaders in the United States and Europe indicates an emerging desire for authoritarian leadership, according to a new interview with The Guardian published Thursday.
Clinton said that supporters of populist leaders have a psychological need “to be told what to do.”
Clinton: populists desire tyrants
The comments echo similar remarks by Clinton and other liberal elites that populists have something wrong with them mentally or ethically. Clinton’s comments Thursday went further than her infamous “basket of deplorables” remark by diagnosing populists as not only morally inferior but psychologically weak.
Clinton said that populist leaders satisfy “a psychological as much as political yearning to be told what to do, and where to go, and how to live and have their press basically stifled and so be given one version of reality.”
While she didn’t mention Trump by name in that part of the interview, it was clear that she included him in that group. She mentioned Trump elsewhere in the interview as an example of a right-wing populist leader exploiting fear of migrants.
“The use of immigrants as a political device and as a symbol of government gone wrong, of attacks on one’s heritage, one’s identity, one’s national unity has been very much exploited by the current administration here,” she said.
Populists giving up on democracy
Clinton’s remarks reflect a tendency among the liberal elite to dodge responsibility for the failures of the ruling class, instead blaming voters for the success of populism in the two years since President Trump’s shocking electoral victory. Populists have also had success with Brexit and in various European elections in countries like Hungary and Italy.
Clinton suggested that voters flocking to populism are losing interest in democracy, despite the tendency of Clinton and other liberal elites to criticize democracy when they lose elections. Clinton has notably discredited democracy by refusing to accept the result of the 2016 election, blaming instead a range of people and events from James Comey to Russian Facebook trolls. She described populists as slaves who can’t handle being free and don’t want to be.
“The whole American system was designed so that you would eliminate the threat from a strong, authoritarian king or other leader and maybe people are just tired of it. They don’t want that much responsibility and freedom. They want to be told what to do and where to go and how to live … and only given one version of reality,” Clinton said.
Suggests immigration restrictions
Clinton said she doesn’t understand the appeal of populism, adding, “I don’t know why at this moment that is so attractive to people, but it’s a serious threat to our freedom and our democratic institutions, and it goes very deep and very far.”
In the same interview, however, Clinton — who has criticized Donald Trump for wanting to secure the border — said that immigration in Europe needs to be curbed to stop right-wing populists from gaining more power, a sign that she does have a clue what drove voters to choose Trump and Brexit. The suggestion immediately sparked backlash from the left.
“I think Europe needs to get a handle on migration because that is what lit the flame,” Clinton said, referring to the 2015 refugee crisis that led to one million refugees pouring into the continent.
Clinton even said that Europe’s leaders must send the message that “we are not going to be able to continue provide refuge and support” to asylum seekers. These comments are richly ironic given Clinton’s opposition to Trump’s border policy and her role in de-stabilizing Libya, which contributed to Europe’s refugee crisis.
It looks like Clinton is finally coming around to realizing why she lost, but she still won’t stop blaming voters who chose alternatives to irresponsible leaders like herself. No wonder she lost.