(USA Features) Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she understands why former President Donald Trump’s brand of patriotic populism resonated with tens of millions of Americans in an interview published Wednesday.
“What really struck me, and maybe it’s because I’m a political scientist, is that the conditions that produced a populist leader, who had never been in government before, was something I think a lot of us had not paid much attention to, frankly,” Rice said, according to The Hill.
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“He touched the nerve of people who felt left out by globalization, who felt diminished by elites. That just assumed that the conversation was the conversation they were having, not the conversation that people who’d been left behind were having,” Rice, who served under President George W. Bush, said this week in an interview with “The Carlos Watson Show.”
Rice said Trump reached voters by telling them “you contribute too, and they’ve forgotten you. They look down on you.”
“That’s something that we probably still really need to pay attention to,” she added. “As a political scientist, I guess I was more interested in what produced this in our society.”
Rice, who is currently a Stanford University professor, was asked by Watson if she knew Trump before he became president.
“I had met him a couple of times, but never in the context of politics,” she said. “I remember thinking at the time, ‘Well, this is going to be an interesting experiment.’ We’re about to elect somebody whose first job in government is going to be president of the United States, and that was new.”
She went on to say that she did not believe Trump’s populism was “anti-democratic.”
“[British Prime Minister] Boris Johnson is a little bit this way, and it’s not anti-democratic. People are wrong to say it’s anti-democratic,” she said. “These are people who believe that the institutions are not really the way you reach people.
“If you think about the use of Twitter by populists, it goes around the media, it goes around the institutions. It’s a direct appeal to the people, and we’ve seen that before in history,” Rice added.
Rice said she didn’t vote for Trump in 2016 but agreed with his right to challenge certain election results in 2020 up to a point.
“It was completely appropriate for President Trump to go to the courts about the election and all of that. We did have Bush v. Gore, which ended up in the Supreme Court,” she said.
“But it was not appropriate to question, past a certain point, the legitimacy of those elections.”