The Renew Democracy Initiative brings you the fourth episode of Frontlines of Freedom. In this episode, our host, Evan Mawarire, sits down with conservative commentator, former chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle, and editor-at-large of the Bulwark, Bill Kristol to discuss the rise of authoritarianism around the world, the importance of continued American aid to Ukraine, and the threats to democracy here in the U.S.
As an outspoken critic of Donald Trump, Kristol has been one of the most prominent conservative critics of modern GOP politics. In a recent article in The Bulwark entitled “The Threat from Trump is Worse Than on January 6th,” Kristol argues that the very nature of the U.S. constitutional framework is at risk in the 2024 presidential election and warns that another Trump presidency could lead to the erosion of freedoms for all Americans. Kristol believes that Americans need to wake up to the fact that “we are not immune to the temptations and dangers of authoritarianism and demagoguery.”
On the Ukrainian front, Kristol questions how Washington’s international reputation would suffer if the United States gives up on this country that they have pledged to help. He explains the important work being done to seize Russia’s frozen assets and the legal basis for transferring those assets to the Ukrainians so they can better protect themselves from Putin’s assault.
Why should we care about these issues overseas? Kristol says there should be more American interest in the war in Ukraine because of far-reaching connections to our own democracy. Russia has an interest in sowing chaos and will do anything it can to make us weaker. Putin is waiting for Trump to win the U.S. election. And if Trump wins, Putin believes he will win in Ukraine. On the importance of elections, Kristol notes that “democrats have to win every election in a sense, authoritarians only have to win one or two and then there aren’t that many more elections.”
In our “What the Hell” segment, Evan takes a look at X’s new partnership with former Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and the platform’s push to platform questionable voices in the name of free speech. Throughout the years, Gabbard has moved from endorsing Bernie Sanders to campaigning for far-right election deniers. It may be difficult to believe, but she has even compared Joe Biden to Hitler. Speaking of Hitler, Tulsi knows a thing or two about murderous dictators: She loves them. Evan explores Tulsi’s apologia for brutal despots like Russia’s Putin and Syria’s Bashar al Assad.
Evan closes with a bit of hope. As Bill Kristol mentioned earlier in the episode, the news surrounding democracy is not all bad. With a pro-democracy leader winning the election in Guatemala and a huge victory for the pro-independence bloc in the presidential election in Taiwan, there is some good news in this new year and a glimmer of hope for what is possible.