NYT's Tom Friedman: Liz Cheney And Mitt Romney Are Defending Democracy From Trump's "Gigantic Lie" | Video | RealClearPolitics

NYT's Tom Friedman: Liz Cheney And Mitt Romney Are Defending Democracy From Trump's "Gigantic Lie"

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New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman warned there would be "people in the streets" if Republicans who believe President Trump's "big lie" about voter fraud in the 2020 election take back power, during an appearance Monday with CNN's Anderson Cooper.

He marveled at "people like Kevin McCarthy -- their willingness to politically prostitute themselves in order to, you know, get the Speaker of the House, it is breathtaking that someone would sell their soul that shamelessly. It’s just chilling."

"Now, imagine, if he would do that, what will they do once they’re in power to keep power? We are in real danger here," Friedman warned.


"There's only a few people, the Adam Kinzingers, the Mitt Romneys, the Murkowskis, you know, the Liz Cheneys who are ready to stand up and say, you know what, being in politics is great, being in the House or the Senate is great."

He continued: "But surely, it isn't something we're selling your soul for, to go down in history, selling your soul to this man -- this soulless man who cares, nothing for the laws and Constitution of this country."

"It is absolutely incomprehensible to me, but it is happening. And what I'm trying to say, Anderson has started to happen really quickly, just in the last few weeks, where what we thought was a big lie that would fade away."

THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, FOREIGN AFFAIRS COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": You know, Anderson, whenever people ask me how I feel these days, I give them an answer that almost sounds like English is my second language. I just say to them, country not right. Country not right.

Our country is not right.

And what Liz Cheney is doing, what Mitt Romney is doing, is standing up for our democracy. I think people are being lulled here in the very best way by Joe Biden doing a terrific job and dealing with vaccination, terrific job in getting the stimulus checks out. There's a sense out there that everything is okay.

Everything is not okay. Anderson, our democracy today is as threatened as at any time you know, since Donald Trump took that elevator ride. Why is that? Because something very gradually happened and then started to happen quickly, just in the last few weeks. And that is that basically subscribing to the big lie that this election was stolen has become a prerequisite now for thriving, surviving and rising in this Republican Party.

And what does that mean, Anderson? It means that this G.O.P. is going to be built on a gigantic lie.

Now, how could you possibly ever trust this party in power again? If the calling card of getting into this party is claiming that our last election, the greatest election, certainly in modern American history where more Republicans and Democrats voted in the middle of a pandemic, their votes were counted by their neighbors and Republican judges and election monitors affirmed their votes, the Attorney General of the United States, the F.B.I. Director, all appointed by Trump also confirmed the integrity of this election, that denying all of that and making the calling card of this party, that you have to subscribe to this big lie. That is terrifying.

Think of what would happen if they got back into power.

And therefore, what Liz Cheney is doing, what Mitt Romney is doing is they're not just fighting for the Republican Party, but they certainly are -- they are fighting for the future of our democracy. It is in so much more danger now than people realize.

COOPER: What's so interesting about what you're saying and scary about what you're saying is, I mean, it's in more danger -- if it's in as much danger as before, it's actually in more danger because as you said, most people have been lulled into a feeling of like, you know what, like the foot is off the gas pedal. We don't have crazy tweets every day. Things are moving along fine. We're optimistic about coming out of this pandemic.

But when you start to drill down, I mean, there was a CNN poll from April that found 70 percent of Republicans said they don't think President Biden legitimately won. And we know Republican legislatures -- dominant legislatures across the country are passing laws to limit voting access.

FRIEDMAN: Now, just imagine, for one second, Anderson, we have over 300 bills in over 40 states trying to basically promote voter suppression and limit access to the polls. Imagine if they succeed. Imagine if in 2022 or 2024, forty percent plus of the country elects our next President, and who dominates the Senate and the House?

You want to see people in the streets. I'll show you people in the streets, if we get real minority rule based on voter suppression. And again, that's why what Cheney and Romney are doing in trying to fight this, because that big lie is what is then giving permission for all these voter suppression legislations.

And something enormous is at stake here. And I think the reason people are being lulled is not only because of Biden's success and his calm. But it's that it actually happened really fast. It's happened like in the last couple of weeks, where everyone fell into line.

And people like Kevin McCarthy, their willingness to politically prostitute themselves, in order to, you know, get the Speaker of the House, it is breathtaking that someone would sell his soul. That, shamelessly is -- it is just chilling. Imagine if you would do that? What will they do once they're in power to keep power? We are in real danger here.

COOPER: They are also selling their souls to a person, the former President, who has no loyalty, who has no shame, who has disdain for these very people who are traveling down to Mar-a-Lago to suck up to him?

FRIEDMAN: Well, again, that's part of the mystery here that there's only a few people, the Adam Kinzingers, the Mitt Romneys, the Murkowskis, you know, the Liz Cheneys who are ready to stand up and say, you know what, being in politics is great, being in the House or the Senate is great.

But surely, it isn't something we're selling your soul for, to go down in history, selling your soul to this man -- this soulless man who cares, nothing for the laws and Constitution of this country.

It is absolutely incomprehensible to me, but it is happening. And what I'm trying to say, Anderson has started to happen really quickly, just in the last few weeks, where what we thought was a big lie that would fade away. In fact, what's happened is it has become -- the embracing of that big lie has become the ticket into this party into Trump's -- and the future.

COOPER: So if it is a threat to democracy itself, what do Americans do about it, and to those who are -- who believe it is a threat?

FRIEDMAN: Every principled Republican, and there are so many we know because they stood up to defend this election. Every principal Republican has to rally to what Liz Cheney is doing. What she is doing is incredibly courageous.

And she clearly has decided she's going to politically die on this hill, okay. But this is -- she has taken a principled stand. Mitt Romney is a good man. He is taking a principled stand.

When he looked out at that audience in Utah last weekend, he said something very important. He said, "Aren't you embarrassed?" Aren't you embarrassed? Really? Aren't you ashamed at what you're doing?

We all have to help them. But Anderson, I want to take you back to post 9/11. And what was going on in the Middle East then, what was I arguing at the time about the Arab-Muslim world? You have to have a war of ideas. You have to have a war of ideas inside Islam. We cannot change it from the outside.

This is your story. This is your narrative.

And Republicans today need to have a war of ideas inside the Republican Party in order to make sure that that honest and fair -- and positions of integrity and people triumph because if they don't and they get back into power, we are in real danger.

I'm sorry, until they have this internal fight, and the only way to cure them of that is to keep them out of power until they do.
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