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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to “Amanpour and Company.”
Here’s what’s coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I’m letting them know that America is back. We’re going to be back in the game. It is not American alone.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): President-elect Biden promises to end America first, but the world has changed since he left the White House. Former
British Prime Minister Tony Blair assesses the challenges ahead.
Then: President Trump won an unexpectedly large share of Latinx support. Father-daughter journalists Jorge and Paola Ramos debunk the monolith.
MASHA GESSEN, “THE NEW YORKER”: I hope it’s all over soon, but he’s not just throwing a tantrum. He has the Republican Party behind him.
Our Michel Martin talks to “The New Yorker”‘s Masha Gessen, who believes Trump is making a break for autocracy.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I’m Christiane Amanpour in London.
World leaders are congratulating president-elect Joe Biden on his victory, from Canada’s Justin Trudeau to Merkel and Macron and Martin in Europe, all
the way to Modi in India.
They are welcoming Biden, who is a familiar presence on the world stage, and he’s pledging to restore America’s role of global leadership, valuing
alliances, standing up for democracy.
Even as he and President Trump pay tribute to the war dead this Veterans Day in separate appearances, the president purges the civilian leadership
at the Pentagon and is still disputing the U.S. election.
But Biden has this simple message for the world: America is back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: The next president is going to inherit a divided country and a world in disarray.
The reception and welcome we’ve gotten around the world from our allies and our friends has been real. I have a number of other calls to return. And so
I feel confident that we’re going to be able to put America back in the place of respect that it had before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: But the world has changed since Vice President Joe Biden left the White House in 2016. China is rising. Democracy is retreating, and
crises, from COVID to the economy, only reinforce nationalist instincts.
The current U.K. prime minister, Boris Johnson, who shares President Trump’s populist tendencies, now says he’s delighted to find common cause
with Biden, like over the climate crisis.
Former Prime Minister and current chair of the Tony Blair Institute for global change is joining me now.
Tony Blair, welcome to the program.
TONY BLAIR, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you what you make, first off, of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from the podium of the State Department assuring the world in
his words that there will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration?
What went through your mind when you heard that?
BLAIR: Well, I assumed it was an ironic remark, actually.
And, look, I mean, whatever happens in the U.S., it’s got a system. There are processes in place. And I think the world is certainly reacting as if
the election result is very clear. And it seems to be.
AMANPOUR: Well, to that point, the secretary of state is actually traveling around the world to various allies later this week.
And, of course, as you say all of those leaders — and, as we have pointed out, they have, in fact, welcomed and congratulated president-elect Joe
What do you think, though, Pompeo will say to them behind closed doors, places like in Israel and Saudi Arabia, Qatar, also in France and Georgia?
I think he’s going to all those places.
BLAIR: I think it’s more of what they will say to him, which is, they will want to try and get some understanding of how he thinks American policy
might change, and in the time left for the transition until the new administration comes in, what is this administration likely to do?
But I think that things will move very quickly to, what is the new administration about, what are its challenges, what can it do to put
America in the position that the new administration wants to see it?
AMANPOUR: Well, you know what? A lot of those countries that I mentioned, certainly the Gulf state countries, Israel, have really benefited under
President Trump’s administration. They much prefer it to the previous Obama administration.
What do you think or how do you think relationships there might be recalibrated or focuses shifted in certain ways under a Biden
BLAIR: So, I think, out in the Middle East, you have got two separate questions.
One is the whole issue of the burgeoning relationship between the state of Israel and the Arab states. I think that will continue under a new
administration. I think the roots of that are very deep. I have worked on these issues myself for many years now, and the UAE agreement with Israel
and Bahrain’s agreement with Israel, I think, is the first of many such agreements across the region.
So, I think that — I would be surprised, frankly, Christiane, if that changes at all. I think the question will be, what is the attitude towards
Iran, and going back to the nuclear deal? And, there, I think it will be — you know, there will be a lot of discussion and negotiation before the new
administration really makes its mind up on that, because what they will find is, a lot of these Arab states and Israel, of course, will say, we
have got — if we’re going to go back to some form of agreement with Iran, we have got to make sure that there are some curbs on the destabilizing
behavior of Iran throughout the region.
So I think that will be — that’s an issue which is less certain to predict. But I think, on the first part, I think the differences will be —
between the previous administration and this one will be less than people think.
AMANPOUR: And on Iran, obviously, president-elect Biden and even before the election he said that he wanted to go back into the Iran nuclear deal,
provided Iran was prepared to uphold its commitments under that.
There are also words that — for instance, U.S. officials have been in Israel recently, and there’s word that they may be trying to slap a whole
new raft of sanctions on Iran, to box Iran in, and box Biden in from being able to actually get back to at least the security arrangement. Is that
BLAIR: I think nothing is going to impede a new administration once it’s in, other than the realities of the situation itself.
And I think a lot has changed in these last four years, and a lot has changed inside Iran, where there’s no doubt that the regime is in one sense
in a weaker position, but, in another sense, the IRGC particularly has strengthened its power.
Its destabilizing activity around the region has not stopped. And the new administration will want to take account of that have, at the same time as
perfectly naturally want to make sure that the nuclear ambitions of Iran are restrained.
So, I may be completely wrong about it, but I think there will be quite a lot of dialogue and discussion before you see how that shapes up.
AMANPOUR: I want to ask you about COVID, because — and you know this because you have had and joined in sort of global coalitions that the U.S.
has led, that Britain has played a very major role in.
And one of the big complaints certainly by the WHO has been that there hasn’t been a global coordinated response to COVID. Britain, we have seen,
has had a terrible death rate over the last 24 hours of something more than 500 deaths.
Its total has now surpassed 50,000, which is more than France and Italy and Spain. What do you hope for? Or do you think at this point that a Biden
administration can revert to American type and somehow help lead a coordinated effort to this?
BLAIR: Yes, absolutely.
I mean, I think that the new administration, the Biden administration have got two big things it can do that the international community will
overwhelmingly welcome, number one, on climate change, number two, on COVID.
So, if you take COVID, which you were just talking about now, look, if the world right at the very outset had decided to get together around vaccines,
therapeutics, how we develop rapid testing, I think we would be two, possibly three months ahead of where we are now.
I mean, the fact is it’s obvious it’s a global pandemic. You should be cooperating together. I think where the new administration can really play
a role is in helping put in place preparations for any future health crisis.
So, one of the big questions will be, because this is not going to be the last time we’re in this situation, how do we make sure that the gaps in the
global architecture to dealing with such a health crisis that COVID has exposed, how do we make sure those gaps are plugged around things like
surveillance, making sure that we can develop vaccines and therapeutics much more quickly, ensuring that there’s proper data, accumulation of all
the information that is going to be needed to keep a watch on the global health situation?
There’s a raft of things that the new administration can do that will be helpful there. I think their instinct will be to get into that multilateral
discussion very quickly.
And then, of course, on climate change, you have got the Glasgow conference coming up, I think, in December next year. That, again, is going to be
enormous opportunity for the Biden administration to play a very strong part, with the U.K., actually. It’s also — those are two issues upon which
the U.K. and the U.S. can make sure that their relationship is strong, to the advantage of the world.
AMANPOUR: And just quickly on that issue of — you’re kind of known as a humanitarian interventionist, whether it’s Kosovo, Sierra Leone, et cetera.
Biden has made it very clear that the world has changed, that he’s not necessarily a massive interventionist. It’s not going to be all of a sudden
a Trump sort of pullback, pendulum swing to America all over the world again. Does that sound reasonable to you?
BLAIR: Yes, sure. I’m sure he’s — his big issue immediately is going to be trying to ensure that COVID is brought under control and that the
economy gets back.
So, he’s — a lot of his focus is going to be internal and domestic, rather than international. But, internationally, I mean, without going into heavy-
handed intervention, I’m sure, for example, if you take an area we’re very active in, which is the northern part of sub-Saharan Africa, the Sahel,
where you have got huge problems of terrorism, extremism potential for mass migration, destabilization, there’s lots of things America can do to play a
part in resolving these problems, short of full-scale intervention.
So, I think you will find — you will find a foreign policy that is multilateral, engaged with the allies, and want to make sure that that
transatlantic alliance is made to feel real again and that European leaders are brought more into the conversation.
But I think his — really his main preoccupation in the short term is going to be sorting things out back home in America.
AMANPOUR: For sure.
But I want to ask you now about Britain’s role. You sort of alluded to the fact that Britain could have a major role, for instance, in climate and
other such things. There is a notion that Britain will be weakened if it’s floating away from the E.U. with Brexit, if it doesn’t have sort of the
tight relationship, special, special relationship that Britain has been used to having as a bridge between America and the rest of European
You were prime minister, obviously, during the Good Friday Accords. You brought that to happen.
And this is what Biden has said about it just before the election: “We cannot allow the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern
Ireland to become a casualty of Brexit. Any trade deal between the U.S. and the U.K. must be contingent upon respect for the agreement and preventing
the return of a hard border.”
OK, so, that, we know. Congress doesn’t want it to be a risk at all. But, certainly, current Boris Johnson policy might put that at risk. What would
you say to a Prime Minister Johnson now, given who won the election in the United States?
BLAIR: Yes, look, there’s no doubt, Christiane, if the new administration thinks the Good Friday Agreement is being messed about, it will be a real
problem in relations between the U.K. and the U.S.
So, I’m sure — at least, I hope that the U.K. government sorts that out, because it’s got these two issues of climate and COVID. It can really
cooperate with the U.S. It’s going to have to make sure that the Irish issue doesn’t intervene in an unhelpful way for that relationship.
And I know, from my own conversations with Joe Biden over many years, he’s a huge supporter of the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process. So,
look, I think — I don’t know because I’m not privy to the internal conversations going on in Downing Street right now, but I would imagine
that they are plotting their way out of that in order to get a reasonable resolution of the remaining Brexit issues.
And then, look, with Brexit — look, Brexit has happened legally. It’s going to happen substantially at the end of the year, when we leave the
trading arrangements. There’s no doubt, in the short term, because you’re leaving the largest political union and the biggest commercial market in
the world, to which we have been attached for almost half-a-century, in the short term, it’s going to leave us weaker.
But we have got to look to the long term and try and try and make the new relationships we’re going to have work and try and make sure that Britain
is as attractive a place as possible for people to come, despite being outside of the European single market.
So, in the short term, yes, it’s going to cause us challenges. But it’s happened now, and we have got to try to make the best of it.
AMANPOUR: So, your predecessor, Tory Prime Minister John Major, has said that the best we can possibly be, we being the U.K., hope for is — quote –
– “a flimsy trade deal or even no trade deal at all.”
And that’s because there’s word that people don’t think that this government is engaging substantively on the main issues with the E.U.
So, I wonder if you agree with that. And then I just wanted to ask about, again, how that will affect Britain and its relationship in the world.
BLAIR: Yes, actually, it was a great speech by John Major and worth reading.
And he’s right. Look, the deal that we are seeking, not the deal we’re being offered, the deal we’re seeking, is a basic standard third-party
trade agreement. So it is — it’s a thin deal. Now, it’s better than no deal, but it is thin.
And at one level, you have got to say it’s extraordinary we’ve been expending all this negotiating energy over the fishing industry, which is a
tine part of our GDP, and the service industry, where we, by the way, have a massive surplus with Europe and where financial services alone account
for over 10 percent of our economy.
You know, it’s a curious situation to find yourself in, for sure. But the fact is, we are where we are. And if we get this trade deal, then I think
there will be — in the future, we will have to negotiate a much deeper trade deal, and we will have to then negotiate a new relationship with
And we will have to find a way, which I think we can if we’re intelligent and creative about it, of building back relations with Europe, our
relationships in the world that have been often dependent on our strong relationship with Europe. And, obviously, for our economy we’re going to
have to manage it through this big process of change.
So, sure, it’s going to be a challenge, for sure.
AMANPOUR: I just want to get back to one final sound bite or intervention by the U.S. secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, on the issue of democracy,
which the whole world is looking at, given how long it took to count the vote and all of rest of it.
The U.S. is often usually putting its democratic and moral values on the line and encouraging other countries to pay attention to their democracies.
I just want to play then counter between a reporter and the secretary of state during his most recent press statement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: This department frequently sends out statements encouraging free and fair elections abroad…
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Yes.
QUESTION: … and for the losers of those elections to accept the results.
Doesn’t President Trump’s refusal to concede discredit those efforts?
POMPEO: That’s ridiculous. And you know it’s ridiculous. And you asked it because it’s ridiculous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Is it ridiculous, though, Prime Minister Blair? I mean, clearly, that goes to the heart of what America stands for.
BLAIR: Yes, but, in the end, Christiane, you have had an election. It’s pretty clear, unless there’s some evidence that people have not seen, what
the result is.
And I anticipate that, in the end, that’s what will happen. So, I don’t — I don’t want to get involved in this — in a row that’s going on over in
But American democracy is actually strong, and the American institutions are strong. The rule of law is strong in America. And there’s an intense
loyalty to the institutions of your Constitution in America, and I think that will prevail in the end.
I’m not — look, I’m not too — I hope it’s resolved soon, but I’m not really too worried about that. What I think are the big questions now are
going to be, how does the new administration really engage in this — in this process of rebuilding support for multilateral institutions?
And then I think there’s another issue which is important, and it’s important for politics around the world. American society remains deeply
divided. I mean, even after this election, it’s a divided country. It’s got to be brought back together. That’s a big challenge.
But you can see the same types of divisions that are present in America exposed by your recent election, you see those changes or those divisions
right around the Western world today.
And I think, for my side of politics, from the progressive side of politics, even after the Biden victory, there are still big challenges.
AMANPOUR: Well, it’s great to get your perspective.
Tony Blair, thank you for joining us.
Now, one of the election surprises has been Donald Trump’s strong performance with Latinx voters.
Here’s how “New York Times” number-cruncher Nate Cohn reports the results on the podcast “The Daily.”
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
NATE COHN, THE NEW YORK TIMES”: Donald Trump fared quite well among Latino voters. You learned that pretty quickly on election night, when the results
from Miami-Dade County and Florida came in.
And now that we have seen more detailed results from elsewhere in the country, I think we can safely say that Latino voters really went to Donald
(END AUDIO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, while the majority of Latinx voters still went to Joe Biden, initial exit polls do show Donald Trump’s share rising from 28
percent in 2016 to 32 percent this time.
And in the key swing state of Florida, he won 47 percent of the Latinx vote.
Journalists Paola and Jorge Ramos report extensively on cultural crosscurrents within America’s Latino population. And Paola is the author
of “Finding Latinx.” Father Jorge is news anchor for Univision, which is America’s leading Spanish-language network.
And we are so pleased to have you both on this program. We have interviewed you separately, but it’s great, because you’re father, daughter, and you
have a generational — potentially a different generational perspective on what’s going on.
So, let me ask you, first, Paola, are you surprised by the result and how much Nate Cohn said went to Donald Trump?
PAOLA RAMOS, AUTHOR, “FINDING LATINX”: I’m not.
And I think, if you know Latinos and you know our history, it wouldn’t surprise you. I mean, just for context, it’s important to know that,
traditionally, Republicans do typically get around 30 percent of the Latino vote, right?
So, in that sense, it’s not a surprise. I think there’s a lot of attention that has been given to the Cuban American vote. But, again, Cubans are just
6 percent of the larger Latino population. Nate Cohn has also talked about that Latino surge for Trump the Rio Grande Valley. The Rio Grande Valley is
just 15 percent of the entire Texas Latino vote.
And so, to me, this story is very different. The story that I see is that we were asked one question, which is, is this who we are as a country? The
overwhelming majority of white voters said yes. They thought that Trump’s America was worthy.
The overwhelming majority of black and brown voters, led by black women and black people, said no. And that is why, at the end of the day, Vice
President Biden did get around 70 percent of the Latino vote. And so I understand the obsession. But, to me, that’s not the story.
JORGE RAMOS, UNIVISION: Miami, Christiane — let me just say this. This is the first interview that we’re doing together. So, thank you for that.
J. RAMOS: Now, yes, the — what you saw in Miami, what you saw in Florida does not represent the rest of the country.
I was just checking some polls by AP, and 63 percent of Latinos or Hispanics voted for Vice President Joe Biden, 63 percent, and 35 percent,
about 35 percent, according to AP, voted for Donald Trump.
So, yes, there’s a shift from 28 percent in 2016 to 35 percent this year for Donald Trump. But if you put Florida aside, and you see what happened
in Arizona and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, you would see that, thanks to the Latino vote, Joe Biden is going to be the next president of the United
AMANPOUR: OK. So, that’s really interesting.
I want to drill down on this Miami vote, because a lot — and your daughter wrote the book on the monolith and busting the myth of the monolith,
because people tend to think, oh, Latino vote, it’s all one idea, one experience.
In Miami, there’s — obviously, it went the way it did, but we have got a sound bite from a mother who supports Trump and a daughter who supports
Biden. Just take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It has been very difficult for us, for my mom and for me, to see her defending something that is completely wrong for us, because
we came from a communist country 36 years ago.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think what’s very worrisome is how I see the Republican Party, Republican propaganda almost manipulating the trauma of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, I think when she says “the trauma of my people,” she’s probably talking about living under communist Cuba or socialist Venezuela.
What do you both think — or how do you both think President Trump’s trying to label Joe Biden a socialist, how did that affect the vote in Florida?
J. RAMOS: You wrote about it, Paola, no?
P. RAMOS: Yes.
I think, if you look at the numbers, it’s pretty incredible. Right? In 2016, Hillary Clinton won Miami-Dade County, which is where we’re talking
to. She won this county by 30 votes.
J. RAMOS: Now it’s shrinking.
P. RAMOS: And now — and Joe Biden won the county by about seven votes — seven points.
And so, to me, the number one thing that can contribute to Trump’s success here was — as that young person said, was the manipulation, right? It was
the fact that he weaponized this trauma that a lot of Cubans and Venezuelans feel, and he drilled down for the last four years that a vote
for Joe Biden and a vote for Kamala Harris was a vote for communism.
And so that vote that a lot of Cubans gave to Trump wasn’t necessarily a political one. It was an emotional one, right? And Donald Trump knew
exactly what he was doing.
I mean, even two days ago, I was walking around, and I gave someone a Clorox wipe. And the older man a Cuban man, he looked at me and he said,
“COVID is for communism. No, COVID is by communists. It’s by communists.”
That’s real, regardless of who is in power. That manipulation and those lies will continue even if Joe Biden is president. That’s the…
J. RAMOS: But the attack, it was a tactic. It was effective against Democrats and against Joe Biden.
Of course, Joe Biden is not a socialist, Christiane. You and I know who socialists is and who are communists. Joe Biden is not a socialist. He’s
not a socialist. But it was effective, especially by Cubans in Florida. And that helped some members in Florida from the Republican Party to be
elected. So it was effective.
AMANPOUR: Jorge, you have done a lot of work on this, and — you have done a lot of work on this in your role.
And there’s a sense, according to the exit polls, that, essentially, Trump appealed to the working class, whether they — whoever they were. Some of
them happened to be Hispanics, Latino. Do you buy that?
And, also, this idea of maybe a generational divide, I’m not sure, but, certainly, a lot of Latino men were asked, and they kind of, related to
Trump’s machismo and that side of — even sort of — even to the point of sort of trying to sort of outman COVID.
Is there something to, you think, Jorge?
J. RAMOS: It’s difficult for pollsters to find out exactly why some Latino men decided to vote for Donald Trump. They call it (SPEAKING SPANISH) or
shy Trumpers, people who don’t feel comfortable in their families or with their co-workers or with their friends saying that they voted for Donald
Trump because of very simple reasons, because he has made racist statements, because he has lied more than 20,000 times, according to “The
Washington Post,” because of the sexist statements just from the “Access Hollywood” tapes, among many others.
So, people don’t feel comfortable saying to the pollsters, yes, I’m going to vote for Donald Trump.
However, when we see the results, it is completely different. Now, what’s the difference? Well, some people, maybe, for them, immigration is not the
most important issue. But I think, Paola, there’s a generational change, right?
I mean, your generation feels more comfortable, obviously, with Biden than with Trump.
P. RAMOS: Yes.
But I will say, on that point, I think Trump made gains with men regardless of our skin color. He made gains with white men. He made gains with some
black men and with Latino men.
And so, at the end of the day, it’s not necessarily a Latino problem. That, to me, is misogyny, right? It’s sexism. And the machismo is ingrained,
regardless of what culture.
AMANPOUR: So, let’s get to the issue, then? Let’s get to the issue of immigration.
I mean, it wasn’t a big issue in the campaign this time around, unlike the — in 2016, when Trump made all those statements about Mexicans,
essentially, all those very derogatory statements.
This time, it wasn’t about immigration.
But, Jorge, again, you have interviewed the Obama/Biden White House. And you interviewed Biden again before this election. Just remind us of
promises made and not kept during the Obama/Biden era, and what you think Biden needs to do, a Biden administration, to really bring Latinx voters
back wholeheartedly to the Democrats?
J. RAMOS: Yes, for many Latinos — and we were talking why some Latinos decided to vote for Trump.
Well, they remember that President Obama promised, when he was a candidate in 2008, that he was going to introduce immigration reform. In other words,
he was going to legalize millions of undocumented immigrants the first year in office.
Let’s remember that, in 2009, Democrats controlled the White House and both chambers of Congress. Well, that didn’t happen. Not only it didn’t happen,
Christiane. He deported more than three million undocumented immigrants during his presidency.
So, obviously, now Joe Biden comes, and people ask him, OK, you were part of that administration. You’re partly responsible. And he said in an
interview earlier this year, he told me it was a big mistake.
He was recognizing that something was wrong. So, Biden is promising to the Latinos or to the Latinx community three things, first to protect the
dreamers, those young people who came here illegally with their parents and whose status is at stake right now at the Supreme Court.
Second, he’s promising that, within 100 days, he’s going to legalize 11 million undocumented immigrants. This is a promise we haven’t seen since
the days of Ronald Reagan in 1996. And finally, he’s going to be PPS or protection status to hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans who are here in
this country. So, those are the three promises.
And let me tell you something, President Obama didn’t keep his promise. We’re going to make sure — and that’s the big difference right now, we’re
going to make sure that Vice President Biden keeps his promise.
AMANPOUR: Well, just so that everybody can hear coming from his own mouth, this is exactly what he said, which I assume you’re going to hold him
accountable for, during the last debate. Let’s just play this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT-ELECT: He made a mistake. It took too long to get it right. Took too long to get it right. I’ll be president of the
United States, not vice president of the United States. And the fact, is I’ve made it very clear, within 100 days it I’m going to send to the United
States Congress a pathway to citizenship for over 11 million undocumented people, and all of those so-called dreamers, those DACA kids, they’re going
to be immediately certified again to be able to stay in this country and put on a path to citizenship.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, you know, he said it. How do you think, Paola, that your generation can hold this president, this administration accountable?
P. RAMOS: I mean, we saw during the Obama years, right, that the dreamers led that movement. The dreamers were, as my dad always says, in our face,
in your face every single day reminding President Obama of those promises. And I think there’s an even greater argument this time because it was the
dreamers that led to Biden’s victory in places like Nevada and Arizona and all over this country, right. It was young Latino organizers who saw their
parents be criminalized and deported by people like Sheriff Joe Arpaio. It was them who are flipping counties like Maricopa County and turning this
red state blue.
So, not only is it the right thing to do politically or morally, but it is because of the victories of these people that Joe Biden, in many ways, is
in the White House. And so, I have no doubt that starting right now, I mean, Latinos are already organizing, and I think for them that the apology
that Vice President Biden gave was very important, right?
J. RAMOS: Right.
P. RAMOS: Because it was a vote of confidence, right? They’re putting — people have been through a lot of pain in the past four years. Promises
were not — they were not kept. And so, a lot of people invested their confidence, and I think — I do believe that Vice President Biden will do
the right thing in that sense.
J. RAMOS: And we can do that now because we’re going to be sending the Latino community and Latinas community, we’re going from big numbers, we’re
more than 60 million, to a little bit of power. A few decades ago, it would have been impossible to pressure a president to do something. Now, we can.
AMANPOUR: It’s really interesting. I just want to ask you for your view on this or your reaction, Jorge. You know, the Mexican president has not
congratulated vice president — rather President-Elect Joe Biden. He has not done it. The northern neighbor, you know, Prime Minister Trudeau has,
and as you’ve seen all the world leaders or most them have done so as well.
How do you account for that?
J. RAMOS: It is strange really, and President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, he’s thinks that by being neutral he’s doing the right thing. But right
now, you cannot be neutral when we already have a president-elect. And it is very strange when you have a leftist president like Andres Manuel Lopez
Obrador having a great relationship with a president like Donald Trump.
And in reality, Mexico, has done everything that Trump wanted. Mexico, unfortunately, has become the wall that Trump really wanted, preventing
hundreds of thousands of Central Americans coming to this country. So, Lopez Obrador doesn’t want to get in trouble with Donald Trump, but at this
point, he’s just playing to these games, to this parallel universe in which some people believe that Donald Trump won the election.
And so — and also, just to put in perspective, Lopez Obrador has a history in which he claims, and many people support that, that there was fraud in
2006 and 2012 that prevented him from becoming president. So, therefore, I don’t think he wants to do the same thing with Donald Trump at this point.
AMANPOUR: That’s interesting. And, of course, you know, the wall, or the border is such a painful place to talk about. There is still more than 600
kids who are separated from their parents. They can’t find the parents. They don’t know what to do. How do you see that being resolved at all? I
mean, that policy for a start, do you see — you know, do you see it being unraveled by the administration, by Congress, by whoever has to do so?
P. RAMOS: It’s — I mean, you can talk about that, but it is one of the last things and the first things that Vice President Biden said in this
campaign. He ended this campaign reminding people of those 500 children, now 666 children that didn’t know where their parents were. That’s one of
the last things we heard this this campaign, and he started in this new phase of being president-elect with reminding people that one of the first
things he will do on day one is ensure that those kids and those parents are united. And on top of that, again, there’s thousands of people of
asylum seekers currently stranded at the border, Cubans and Mexicans. And one of the others things that he’s committed to doing is ending MPP.
And so, I think it’s very symbolic how he ended and how he started this campaign, right. Immigration and Latinos at one point, we weren’t the
center of the agenda, you know, weren’t even a top priority. Now, we’re sort of the heart, right, of what it means to be — what it will mean to be
in the White House.
J. RAMOS: Yes. There’s no question that thanks to the black vote and to black women Joe Biden is going to be the next president, there’s no
question. But I think Latinos had a lot to do with it. And since while we’re talking about the crisis at the border, I think Joe Biden is going to
have probably his first crisis as president because of this.
Now, many people in Central America — I mean, Mexico are hearing Joe Biden is going to be the next president. So, they are getting ready with
caravans. They are getting ready to come here. Just imagine the thousands of people right at the refugee camps on the Mexican side because of Trump’s
policy that are saying, OK, once Joe Biden becomes president, we’re going to cross the border and Joe Biden is going to give us a hug.
So, it is the right thing to do. It is the humane thing to do. It’s a new immigration policy but it might be Joe Biden’s first international crisis.
AMANPOUR: And we’ll wait to see how it plays out. Jorge and Paola Ramos, thanks so much for joining us.
Now, as the rest of the world waits for a formal transition to begin, what is the difference between Trump’s behavior and that of some international
autocrats? That is what many people are asking, and our next guest has been writing about authoritarianism for two decades.
Masha Gessen is a Russian-American journalist and staff writer at the “New Yorker” whose latest book “Surviving Autocracy” makes the case that Trump’s
presidency has endangered American democracy and people’s faith in it. Here’s Gessen speaking to our Michel Martin about the road ahead.
MICHEL MARTIN: Thanks, Christiane. Masha Gessen, thank you so much for being with us once again.
MASHA GESSEN, STAFF WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: It’s great to be here.
MARTIN: You’ve written extensively about the rise of authoritarian regimes in recent years, and a lot of your focus has been on Europe, but sadly in
recent years you’ve also applied that analysis to the United States. And recently, for your piece in the “New Yorker,” you said that Donald Trump
has been engaged in an autocratic attempt for the last three year, and you said that he’s now trying to stage an autocratic breakthrough. And I know
you’re borrowing a bit of analysis from a Hungarian sociologist but can you briefly tell us what you mean by that.
GESSEN: I’ve been using a framework developed by a Hungarian sociologist, Balint Magyar, and he divides — he has studied extensively democratic
backsliding over the last couple of decades and he’s developed this framework for thinking about autocracy divided into three stages,
autocratic attempts, autocratic breakthrough and autocratic consolidation. And they sound fairly explanatory, but what deserves attention is the
difference between an autocratic attempt and autocratic breakthrough.
An autocratic attempt is the stage when it is still possible to reverse it through electoral means and autocratic breakthrough is the moment that that
becomes impossible. The moment or the period in time when it becomes impossible. And that’s really what we’re seeing now. We have voted Donald
Trump out of office. He’s refusing to leave office. He’s trying to create a situation where it will be impossible to remove him by peaceful means. So,
that’s the battle we’re seeing now.
MARTIN: Well, what is most concerning to you about this period? As we are speaking now, the president is refusing to concede and demanding that the
votes stop being counted in certain states that — where the trend has moved against him. So, what is it that’s most concerning to you about this
period? Because some people say, oh, well he’s just throwing a tantrum. It will be all over soon. Do you think so?
GESSEN: Well, I hope it’s all over soon. But he’s not just throwing a tantrum. He has the Republican Party behind him. The at this point, we have
what, two-and-a-half Republican senators who have recognized the results of an election.
MARTIN: It’s been four.
GESSEN: Oh, now we have four, OK. We have four Republican senators who have recognized the results of the election. Only two of them at the same
time that the rest of the country did. This is extraordinary. We have the attorney general instructing the Justice Department to investigate what
he’s calling credible challenges to the vote count before the votes have been certified.
So, what we’re actually seeing is an attempt to solidify what, again, Magyar calls the vertical (INAUDIBLE). And this idea of vertical, I think,
is super important. You know, when we think about democratic government, we think about it kind of horizontally. We think of a system of checks and
balances in which different branches of government interact in more or less a horizontal fashion, right? We have a distribution of powers and we have
checks on the power that are exerted by the other branches of government.
In a vertical system, you have the autocrats and — who is the command center. And the people who receive commands and power and money from the
autocrat, and that’s what Donald Trump has tried to create. He’s tried to create a vertical of people who owe him loyalty and who look to him for
direction, and he’s trying to assert that that has been created. Bill Barr is a part of his vertical. Mitch McConnell is a part of his vertical. I
think he believes that the Supreme Court is a part of his vertical, right. He appointed three justices to the Supreme Court using Mitch McConnell. And
we keep hearing the hope expressed that the election will go to the Supreme Court because, of course, the Supreme Court is packed with people who owe
Trump a debt of loyalty.
MARTIN: Why do you think it is that the American public, to this point, doesn’t seem more disturbed by this? I mean, as you pointed out in your
piece, 65 million, 70 million people consciously chose Donald Trump as their president, as their choice despite seeing the you had autocratic
tendencies over the last four years as you’ve described. And yet, Americans, some of the people who supported him, seemed more concerned
about being told to wear a mask on their face to prevent the spread of disease and they are being sort of being told who is going to be president
no matter who voted or not, and I’m just wondering what you think about that.
MARTIN: So, I think there are two topics here, right? One is why Americans are not more disturbed about what we’re watching, which is basically an
attempted coup, right, this attempted autocratic breakthrough. And I think there’s — part of that is kind of a healthy reaction. Part of it is that
we have a president who should no longer be taken seriously. He is a lame duck. He’s been voted out of office. He’s throwing a tantrum. And at the
same time, he’s throwing a tantrum as commander-in-chief, which, of course, is the symbolic meaning of firing the defense secretary, right. It’s to
assert his power as commander-in-chief.
But more than, I would be really concerned about the Republican Party. The 48 senators who are not recognizing the results of a fair and — well, I
mean, not greatly fair in the sense that lots of people, especially people of color had to stand in line for hours and hours and hours, not terribly
open in that sense, but as good an election as we can muster under our current system. And that should be disturbing, right, that elected
officials are undermining the results of an election. That’s terrifying.
The other thing, of course, that’s terrifying, is that yes, 70 million people voted for him. This was not a repudiation. In fact, you know, if you
look at the percentages in this election, not the turnout, right, we had record turnout, but if you look at the percentages by which Biden won the
popular vote and the electoral college, it looks like a normal American election. And there’s nothing normal about throwing an autocrat out of
MARTIN: Clearly, you don’t see it that way. In fact, Mitch McConnell who is the senate majority leader, a senator from Kentucky who has certainly
been supportive of President Trump’s aims, you know, throughout his presidency, I mean, really, frankly, in advance of his presidency by
holding had open so many seats, by refusing to advance qualified nominees in the judiciary in the hopes that a Republican president would then take
over. I mean, he created the soil for this to grow, at least as far as the judiciary is concerned. He says that the president is doing the most
American thing possible, which is taking his beef to court, because that’s what Americans do.
GESSEN: Apparently. You know, I don’t think the problem is that people don’t recognize Trump as an autocrat. I think the Republican Party has
turned into an autocratic party. And in my book, “Surviving Autocracy,” I talk about how I think we can distinguish an autocratic party from a
democratic party, a democratic party with a small D.
The audience of a democratic party, the political receipt are the voters. Whatever — however imperfect our Democratic Party may be, and it’s hugely
imperfect, you can always tell that when we see our politicians speak, they speak to the voters. They speak to the people that they perceive as being –
– as themselves as being accountable to. When we see Republicans speak, they have an audience of one, and that audience is Donald Trump.
MARTIN: Is there something about sort of Republican electorate at this point that finds this stance and this posture so appealing that the people
who are elected by them, that’s where they are as well? It seems as though there’s a great appetite for this among certain sectors of the American
people. And so, the question I have for you is why? Why do you think that is?
GESSEN: You know, social psychologists have studied what makes people want autocracy or at least since Hitler rose to power, and I think that the
theory developed Erich Fromm, who is a German social psychologist, is actually the most illuminating. He had this theory there are times in human
history when people feel so dislocated, so economically anxious, so fearful of the future that it is easier to hand their agency over to an autocrat in
exchange to the promise of stability.
The autocrats never deliver the promise of stability, but there’s this emotional promise of predictability, stability and the message that you
don’t have to think about your future. I will lead you to — into it. I will constrain you enough to make it not so unpredictable and so
frightening. And so, Fromm’s theory was that a time of great sort of human movement and a huge number of refugees in the wake of World War I and
incredible economic anxiety is what handed power to Hitler.
I think from what little we know about why people vote for Trump we can apply that theory to the United States. Donald Trump does speak directly to
economic anxieties. He speaks directly to anxieties, right? And I’m not sure that Democrats have been as successful at it. If you look at this
election’s results, a weird disconnect between policies that people seem to like and the politicians that they voted for actually testifies to this
hypothesis, right? People want to be taken care of. People want, you know, Medicare for All. People want a $15 minimum wage. In Florida, right, they
voted for him, and then they voted for these blustering autocrats.
MARTIN: I’m interested in your take on what should happen now assuming that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris do successfully take the presidency.
GESSEN: I think two things should happen. One, is they should address the problem of this vertical that Trump has tried to create, right? We’re
assuming that this vertical is weak enough that his autocratic breakthrough will fail, but it needs to be dismantled. It cannot remain a part of
government, and that really means thinking about what made it possible, right. Biden will need to look at the course, will need to look at the
possibility of expanding the Supreme Court, but also how to address the court-packing.
Again, when we talk about autocracies in other countries, we talk about what Trump has done with appointing more than 200 federal judges as court
packing, because he has not simple exploited the system that we have for appointing federal judges, he has abuse the system that we have for
appointing federal judges by appointing a number of politically extreme and inexperienced judges that owe him a debt of loyalty. They wouldn’t be there
if not for him, which is very different from exploiting the system as it’s designed to political ends, right.
So, I think thinking about this as a vertical and dismantling of vertical is one task that’s super important. And I think the other super important
task is reckoning. You know, we have come to sort of fetishized moving on ever since Ford pardoned Nixon or more recently, Barack Obama decided not
to prosecute and not to investigate illegal detention and torture under the George W. Bush administration.
There’s this idea that letting sleeping dogs lie is somehow a virtue. But what it really communicates is that after a certain level of power you
always have immunity, and it also communicates that the trauma that we have lived through over the last four years, you know, the trauma of watching
this president flail and abuse power, the trauma of watching the first family use the presidency as an annex to their personal business, the
trauma for immigrants of being afraid daily or for people who are not immigrants of being somehow complicit in creating that fear, you know, the
trauma of seeing a pandemic and an executive branch that sees your lives and the lives of your friends and family as disposable, as worthless, the
trauma of a call for a reckoning with racism to which the president responds by flaming racism, right?
We can’t go into the future carrying that with us. That is unfair and unpainful and too much to ask of the American population to just set that
aside and continue as though we’re going back to some kind of normal. We need a reckoning. And I think that there’s been a lot of conversation about
whether do we prosecute, is that vengeance or do we create truth and reconciliation commissions, and I think those are wrong questions. I think
the question is, do we have a national commitment, a commitment that’s led by the president, the new president, to think about, to talk about what
happened to us and what made it possible? There has to be a commitment to a national conversation and to creating a story about what happened to us.
And that attempt to create a story is the best chance we have to actually to create a shared reality.
MARTIN: I hate to ask you to do this but I am going to ask you to do this. Assess the damage for us from your perspective. I mean, how bad do you
think the damage has been to our democracy even if the Biden/Harris ticket does prevail in the end and takes hold? Is this reversible?
GESSEN: That’s the $64,000 question, right? Is this reversible, right? At this point, if the Biden/Harris ticket takes power, and I think it will,
right, we will have prevented the autocratic breakthrough right now.
I keep flashing back to Hungary where Viktor Orban after his first term in office, and Viktor — you know, Hungary was for a brief period on a
thriving liberal democracy. And Viktor Orban was elected, voted out of office after one term, spent two terms — two election cycles as the leader
of the opposition and then swept back in on a super majority and changed the constitution. And that to me is one of the biggest reminders of — in
recent history to not just move on and sweep things under the rug.
The preconditions for an autocrat in the United States exists. They existed before Donald Trump came into office. He managed to do an incredible amount
of damage to the functioning and the structures and the credibility of American institutions, and we have to repair the damage. Otherwise,
possibly not Donald Trump, possibly one of his kids will be running for office in four years, in eight years, and that vertical, that vertical of
power that Trump has tried to build will be there waiting for them.
MARTIN: Masha Gessen, thank you so much for speaking with us today.
GESSEN: Thank you for having me.
AMANPOUR: And it took two World Wars to save the world from totalitarianism and preserve freedom it. So, finally tonight, we take a
moment to commemorate Armistice Day known as Veterans Day in the United States. It marks that moment 102 years ago on the 11th hour of the 11th day
of the 11th month when the guns fell silent bringing an end to World War 1. Amid this pandemic, services around the world still are paying a tribute to
those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
There as dawn broke in Australia, a projection of poppies illuminated the Sydney Opera House. By midday in the United States, President Trump
attended a ceremony at Arlington Cemetery. And in Paris, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, honored the centenary of the burial of the
unknown soldier. And here, in the U.K., time stood still at appointed hour as the public observed two minutes of silence.
That is it for now. Thank you for watching “Amanpour and Company” on PBS and join us again tomorrow night.