During Friday’s edition of Real Time With Bill Maher on HBO, the eponymous host sat down with Russian chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov, former world chess champion and co-author of a new book called Fight For Liberty: Defending Democracy in the Age of Trump. Maher surely featured Kasparov because he was agreeably paranoid about Trump. Kasparov asserted that Trump’s re-election would signal the “demise of democracy,” Maher agreed, predicting that Trump is “not going to leave even if he loses the election,” kind of an ironic point to make as Democrats across the country have refused to concede in a series of elections where they have no path to victory.
Kasparov continued: “His affection toward dictators in my view based on his psychological envy to them because he also wants to be like them so he wants to act without any checks and balances, that’s why I guess he was depressed by the results of this elections because all of a sudden, now, he could be checked.” Kasparov later argued that President Trump has succeeded in “ruining the image of America being a...true democracy,” in addition to claiming that the President acts like Russian President Vladimir Putin or “fellow dictators.”
Another one of the panelists, former McCain campaign manager and MSNBC contributor Steve Schmidt, warned about “rising illiberalism” across the Western world and talking about President Trump’s “fetish for autocracy.” Schmidt asked, “it’s not the question is it can he lock up reporters, the question is if he could, would he?” Schmidt answered his own question with a “yes” before rambling about how “everyday he assaults our institutions” and how President Trump “assaults the foundational pillars of a Constitutional Republic.”
Schmidt then tried to compare present-day America to Europe in the 1930s: “fascism did not rise in the 30s because it was strong but because democracy was weak. And we have a crisis in our democracy. Democracy is lubricated by trust, faith, and belief in the system. And it has been eroded singularly by this President’s constant assault on every institution that's been handed down as part of our American heritage...and it is appalling.”
The warnings of the “demise of democracy” and the labeling of President Trump as a fascist should not come as a surprise, considering the fact that it seems that using such harsh rhetoric to describe President Trump is a prerequisite for appearing on Real Time. Early in the summer, left-wing heartthrob Michael Moore used his platform on Real Time to warn that “fascism is at the doorstep.” Maher himself has claimed that “the fascists are in the White House” and suggested that “wannabe dictator” President Trump is worse than Hitler because “Hitler volunteered for the army.”
By the time Real Time comes back from its two-month hiatus, the Democrats will have control of the House of Representatives; which would mean, using Real Time’s logic, that “fascism” is on its way out. However, hyperbole and comparisons of President Trump to dictators will likely continue as long as the President remains in office.
A transcript of the relevant portion of Friday’s edition of Real Time is below. Click “expand” to read more.
Real Time With Bill Maher
BILL MAHER: He was the world’s top chess player for twenty years, he became a pro-democracy activist and now a co-author of the new book, Fight For Liberty: Defending Democracy in the Age of Trump. A true hero, Garry Kasparov, is over here. Garry Kasparov, how are you my friend? Great to see you. You know everybody here I’m sure. Okay, so Garry, you are such a good person to have here as America retreats from liberal democracy because…
GARRY KASPAROV: I have some experience with it.
MAHER: You do and it’s, it’s disheartening. We thought a generation ago, when the Cold War ended, that things were going to turn out differently. I guess, first of all, could they have, could Russia have gone a different direction then Putin or was he inevitable?
KASPAROV: It’s a long story and a sad story. I think we should talk now about the lessons we could learn from this story and I think everyone should recognize that democracy is not for granted. So it’s just, you have to fight for that. Somehow, you know, I think it’s…this Trump election is a very important milestone because Americans understand…it’s, you know, it’s always in making. It’s the mechanisms that have been developed 240 years ago or so, they are getting rusty. And it’s very important that you revisit it. And there’s certain even amendments, you know, could be reconsidered because, again, at the end of 19th century, people couldn’t foresee everything. It’s one of the best documents ever written because they could, you know, predict so many, you know, turns of history but not everything. And it’s now, it’s now, you know, we have to look at this again and the idea of the book was just…between us, we call it the Federalist Papers 2.0. It’s just to actually bring these values to adjust them to the demands of 21st century.
MAHER: So, Trump, kind of a stress test for democracy.
KASPAROV: It’s the…Trump’s election was a stress test; his reelection would be probably demise of democracy.
MAHER: I think so too, and I have been saying for anyone who will listen on this show for as long as I can, he’s not going to leave even if he loses the election, and I’ve heard…maybe I finally have a witness here who will agree with me.
KASPAROV: Look, he didn’t want to recognize the results of the election…
MAHER: Maybe not, I thought I finally had…
KASPAROV: He didn’t want to recognize the results of elections he had won.
MAHER: What’s he going to do when he loses one? He’s doing it in Florida now, he’s setting the table for that.
KASPAROV: It’s just again, we should give him credit, if we may call it credit that he’s succeeded in two years turning bad into normal. All of a sudden something we believed would be unacceptable, you know, even in coffee house debate, now we’d say it’s part of the mainstream political battle. And no doubt he will not stop, we haven’t seen the worst because he’ll be fighting with survival. Look, his affection toward dictators in my view based on his psychological envy to them because he also wants to be like them. So he wants to act without any checks and balances, that’s why, yes, he was depressed by the results of this election because all of a sudden now he could be checked. But again, the presidential power is so vast and we have to agree that in the, you know, last few decades after Watergate, we have seen the accumulation of more and more power in the oval office. And by the way, Trump’s election was another warning that many things, many loopholes had to be closed. We have to look at presidential power and at the checks and balances and to recognize that, again, we did a very poor job predicting Trump. So and now it’s time to prepare for 2020 because I have no doubt that he will fight us tooth and nail and what we saw in this midterm, prepare for worse.
MAHER: And what happens if he doesn’t go? What do you think happens to the world?
KASPAROV: I don’t think…it’s not about him staying there if he loses, it’s about the price this country will pay…what’s even more important is the image of America worldwide because what Trump, again, succeeded in doing is ruining the image of America being, you know, just a true democracy because all of a sudden you see the man who acts like, you know, Vladimir Putin or other, you know, fellow dictators.
MAHER: Well, I want to read this quote and I’ve read it before on this show, it’s Paul Ryan, they caught him on a mic, he didn’t know he was being taped. Okay? With Kevin McCarthy, who is now their leader. And McCarthy says “There’s two people I think Putin pays, Rohrabacher and Trump. I swear to God.” And Ryan says “This is off the record, no leaks, right? This is how we know we’re a family here.” Chilling, mafia-like. It’s not like Paul Ryan says, oh my God, do you think Trump is on the payroll of Putin?
KASPAROV: I cheered the results of the election in Orange County.
MAHER: And Rohrbacher, he lost.
KASPAROV: My comment was it is the first election that Putin lost, fair and square.
MAHER: Well, that’s the thing, I mean if anybody Putin was going to get involved in, it would be the election of Rohrbacher, if people don’t know who he is, they call him Putin’s congressman. He is a Congressman here from Orange County…
KASPAROV: Don’t forget one of the biggest fundraising events was organized by Erik Prince. So it’s more than $200,000 was raised for Rohrabacher and believe there were other Russian connections that used to prop him up.
MAHER: And he’s been on our show many times, Dana Rohrbacher, nice guy, traitor, but a very nice guy.
VAN JONES: I mean, that’s all very discouraging. On the other hand, the antibodies have started to kick in, even in Europe, you know, Brexit is starting to curdle and possibly come apart. Here, we had the midterm elections and don’t forget, our wave, the so-called blue wave, the rainbow wave was bigger than the tea party wave. In other words, the tea party, 6.8 percent they beat us by in terms of total popular vote, this was nine points. So we had a bigger wave than the tea party. We didn’t get all the seats we deserve because of gerrymandering but think about that. That means that the antibodies are starting to kick in and we should be proud of that, we should be proud of that.
KASPAROV: But also let me add one other point here. It’s good that you mention the rest of the world because we’re seeing the same kind of phenomenon in Europe as well, with the rise of the alt-right but also very far left groups. And Vladimir Putin was very good at just using this new landscape because he doesn’t care. You know, he can support any group that is spreading chaos. I mean, look at Germany. I mean, as a result of America’s policy because they didn’t want to interfere in Syria, they accepted refugees, we have in Germany now the third largest party; neo-Nazis. 94 neo-Nazis in German Bundestag. And it’s a time when there is no economic crisis.
STEVE SCHMIDT: But everywhere we look around the world, Van, we see rising illiberalism. You can no longer look at Hungary and Poland and say these are liberal democracies. Far right parties in Austria and Germany, Trump’s fetish for autocracy. And what we should understand about Trump, it’s not the question is it can he lock up reporters, the question is if he could, would he? And does anybody believe that the answer is no? The answer is yes. Every day, he assaults our institutions, he assaults the foundational pillars of a constitutional republic. And this is all much more fragile I believe then we think it is. I mean, fascism did not rise in the 30s because it was strong but because democracy was weak. And we have a crisis in our democracy. Democracy is lubricated by trust, faith, and belief in the system. And it has been eroded singularly by this President’s constant assault on every institution that’s been handed down as part of our American heritage through great sacrifice and great valor and it is appalling.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)