Thomas Friedman: I'm Terrified Covering America's Potential Second Civil War, I Shudder At Four More Years | Video | RealClearPolitics

Thomas Friedman: I'm Terrified Covering America's Potential Second Civil War, I Shudder At Four More Years

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"New York Times" columnist Thomas Friedman said in an interview with CNN host Anderson Cooper on Thursday that if you are not frightened right now, you are not paying attention.

"It's terrifying because the Republican Party has become basically a political brothel, that rents itself out by the night to ever will energize its base," Friedman told Cooper. "Whether it was Sarah Palin or the Tea Party, and now Trump. This is a party that went into its convention with no platform. No platform. Basically said whatever Trump wants, we want."

"If you're not frightened, now, if you are not terrified for what could happen? It's not we might have a disputed election. It is we are going to have a disputed election. Almost certainly unless Trump wins, in which case, I shudder to think what four more years of this would be like," Friedman lamented.


"Backed by a party without spine, amplified by a network without integrity, and by social networks that are marinated in conspiracy theories, behind whom are a lot of armed people. If you aren't frightened by this, you are not paying attention," he said of the GOP.

"There's only one thing to do," Friedman said. "Vote, go out and vote. Vote for Joe Biden, raise money for Joe Biden, canvass for Joe Biden. Register someone -- help someone registered to vote for Joe Biden, and drive someone to the polls to vote for Joe Biden."

"if Joe Biden wins the election, you have nothing to worry about, will abide by that," Friedman guaranteed.

COOPER: We keep an eye on the protests in Louisville stemming from the Breonna Taylor case. This is President Trump's continuing -- continues to claim without basis in fact that the upcoming election won't be honest. New York Times columnist Tom Friedman has decades of experience covering leaders worldwide who tried to stay in power. He's also the author of the bestseller Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How It Can Renew America. He joins me now.

You know, Tom, we played President Reagan's statement when he gave his first inaugural address and the first thing he addressed was the commonplace nature of the peaceful transfer of power and to praise Jimmy Carter for making it so easy to facilitate that. It is something that in this country is commonplace that overseas where people were presidents' dress up and fake military uniforms, and when they have their families running other, you know, branches of government. They don't have peaceful transfers of power. Were you surprised that the President said this? I mean, you know, a lot of people say that, you know, yes, it's stunning, but not surprising.

TOM FRIEDMAN, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: I found it stunning and surprising. Anderson, you know, I began my career as a journalist covering Lebanon's second civil war and its history. And I'm terrified to find myself ending my career as a journalist covering America's potential second civil war in its history.

COOPER: You really believe that?

FRIEDMAN: Yes, I think what happened in the last few days is a six alarm fire. I think it's DEFCON 5. The President of the United States has told us either I win the election, or I delegitimize the election. Those are your choices, folks. And he basically is trying to break people's will to really get people to say, what the heck, he wants it so bad. Just give it to him. I think this is this is certainly the most frightening moment in my life. It's frightening because of him. It's frightening because he's backed by a state owned network.

And it's terrifying because the Republican Party has become basically a political brothel, that rents itself out by the night to ever will energize its base, whether it was Sarah Palin or the Tea Party, and now Trump. This is a party that went into its convention with no platform. No platform. Basically said whatever Trump wants, we want. And I -- if you're not frightened, now, if you are not terrified for what could happen? It's not we might have a disputed election. It is we are going to have a disputed election. Almost certainly unless Trump wins, in which case, I shudder to think what four more years of this would be like.

COOPER: It does -- I mean, it certainly kind of is a waving red flag to armed supporters of the President who feel aggrieved to, you know, believe in conspiracy theories who are showing up already to protest to, you know, guard garages and stuff. It's really puts them on notice that the President is up for the idea of not having a peaceful transfer of power.

FRIEDMAN: Yes, I think that you simply cannot count on not only the rules, but the norms. I mean, what really govern this country, the words on paper were important, but we're learning what is so much more important are the norms that people use to apply those words, and that certain things were just simply considered off the table. And what Donald Trump did in the last two days, basically delegitimizing a legitimate form of voting with a virtually 0% case of corruption, as your previous guest noted. Used by Democrats and Republicans, electing Democrats and Republicans, mail-in voting, he is delegitimizing that, because he thinks he is going to lose.

And I think this is just the beginning. That this should be breaking news banner headline on CNN, The New York Times, Washington Post, everyday, this is all we should be talking about. Because I promise you on November 3rd and 4th, this is all we will be talking about. And by then it could be too late.

COOPER: But how do you? I mean, how does this play out in other countries that that you've seen? I mean, again, I can't believe we're having this conversation, frankly, because I just can't believe it.

FRIEDMAN: Well, you know, I was before I came on, I was reading up about Buehler. Buehler is, you know, this Russian satellite basically where their president basically cooked the election. He's been in power 26 years saying the country needs me now. We're in a terrible crisis. And you know, the State Department's mails made some mild protests. But as a foreign correspondent that started Do what you do you cover those kinds of elections, and then you call the State Department. And you get some statement hopefully a strong one. You know that stands up for the principles of self-determination and free and fair elections. That's I did all these years as a foreign correspondent.

Now you have to do it in your own country, only the people you'd want to call the Justice Department. They're not answering the phone. They're in on the joke. Of course, it's not a joke at all. And I just think, you know, one of the most ridiculous statements made by any journalist was after Trump was elected, who excoriated the press for saying, oh, you, you silly reporters, you took him literally. But his supporters only took him figuratively. You never should have taken them literally. That turns out Anderson to be the single stupidest statement anybody ever made. Because everything Trump has literally said he has done or tried to do. This is a man you should definitely take at his literal word when he talks about these kinds of shenanigans.

COOPER: Right. And that is the irony of Trump is that, you know, the only thing transparent about him is, he does say all the stuff that is in his head that he wants to do. He says it on Twitter, he says it out loud. People discounted. They (INAUDIBLE), they say don't take it literally. But he does speak the quiet stuff and people think out loud.

FRIEDMAN: And when you when you have a president without shame.

COOPER: Yes.

FRIEDMAN: Backed by a party without spine, amplified by a network without integrity, and by social networks that are marinated in conspiracy theories, behind whom are a lot of armed people. If you aren't frightened by this, you are not paying attention.

COOPER: So what happens? So what do you do?

FRIEDMAN: There's only one thing to do. Vote, go out and vote. Vote for Joe Biden, raise money for Joe Biden, canvass for Joe Biden. Register someone -- help someone registered to vote for Joe Biden, and drive someone to the polls to vote for Joe Biden. This is all about power, Anderson. This isn't you're not going to persuade the Republican Party. I had a good laugh tonight when I saw that Lindsey Graham said, don't worry. If we have -- if Joe Biden wins the election, you have nothing to worry about, will abide by that. The same guy, you know, who said if the Supreme Court situation that that the Republicans ran through before repeated again, he wouldn't be for it. There's only one tool we have, but it is a tool that can work, and that is to overwhelmingly vote. And I've written and I will repeat. I will walk to the polls. I will crawl to the polls. I will slither to the polls. I will bike to the polls. I will hike to the polls, but I will cast my vote for Joe Biden.
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