Top-rated cable news talk show host Tucker Carlson joined Chris Bedford on The Federalist Radio Hour this week. Listen to the show below or read the transcript below that. The transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.
CB: Hello, everyone, and welcome back to another edition of The Federalist Radio Hour. I’m Christopher Bedford and joining me today is Tucker Carlson, host of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” which this week broke the record for most-watched cable news show ever. Thank you so much for being here with us, Tucker.
TC: Are you kidding? It’s my honor.
CB: So your show has become the most watched over the past quarter, especially because you’re saying something that no one else is saying. You’re calling out the elites of both parties, Democrats and Republicans. You’re calling out Washington think tanks, you’re calling out the local mayors and attorney general, and prosecutors all over the country, for failing to do their job in the face of the mob.
You’re going forward like someone who thinks that maybe television is a fleeting thing and you’re pouring your entire heart and soul into it. What about this moment is drawing you to it, and [why is] what you’ve been offering is drawing in such record numbers of viewers who are watching?
TC: You know me well. I do think television is a fleeting thing. I think life is a fleeting thing. I’ve been meditating for some reason, I don’t know why, on something of all people Conan O’Brien once said. I’m not a Conan O’Brien fan, but he said something that never left me, which is, ‘In the end, all graves go unvisited.’ I think that every day.
So I mean, that kind of centers you in reality, like staring at the night sky and you begin to suspect that maybe you’re not the center of the universe. So yeah, I mean, when we just lost a mutual friend of ours this week. So there’s reminders all around us that things change faster unexpectedly and you move from one position to another and then you’re done.
And so, my feeling, based on that, is that you shouldn’t wait to say what you think is true. You should say it now. And that’s not hard in this moment, because the stakes are so clearly high, the highest they’ve been in my lifetime.
I mean, part of the problem with journalism and particularly television, is that it torques up the emotional intensity to the point where you lose perspective. You can become paranoid or overwrought. That’s why I fly fish and try to spend time with my wife and kids.
So I keep asking myself every day, am I losing perspective? Am I making more of this than I ought to be? In 15 years, will we all recognize that this was an important moment, a pivotal moment? And I think the answer is, there really is a lot going on now. There is a revolution in progress.
I can’t stop it. I’m just a talk show host, but I can certainly say what I think about it and encourage other people to do the same. I mean, again, this is a bias that’s inherent to my business that I think that change begins, always, when you describe what’s happening. Words are the seeds of action. And I’m just so struck by how few people have articulated what’s going on.
And it’s not that they don’t understand it. They do. They’re just too afraid. And I find that contemptible. I’m not particularly brave. I’ve never served in the military. I wouldn’t want to, you know I’d be afraid. So it’s not like I’m some particularly courageous person. I’m not. It’s just that so many people who should be brave are fleeing the scene, and that just didn’t enrages me.
I mean, it really is like watching absent fathers drink during the day and you keep thinking Where are your children? Where’s your wife? Like, why aren’t you doing your duty? How can you abandon them and continue to live with yourself?
That’s what I think of our leaders right now, almost all of them. You know what I mean, like we had a home invasion. You were the only one who could operate the shotgun, and you’re at the bar and turned your cell phone off, you know, when the kids got beaten up and mom got raped and they burned the house down. You know, because you left. You were supposed to protect us. I know that may sound melodramatic, but that’s actually how I feel about it.
CB: In the ’70s we saw this, in the late ’60s we saw this kind of violence in the United States and attempts to attack everything we stand for and occupy campuses. You talked about it in California with the university president.
But back then also in the ’60s and ;70s we had a Democratic Party that had Jefferson dinners and would hand out copies of the Constitution. The Republican Party had Lincoln dinners, handed out copies of the Constitution. Democratic mayors of major cities like Chicago who would not hesitate to use force to disperse a violent mob, and Washington was respected.
Today, when Washington’s torn down, what struck me and I wrote about it The Federalist, how reminiscent it was of the revolution in China, when Mao in the Cultural Revolution had Confucius’ entire family’s graves dug up, and desecrated, and robbed and destroyed — this is essentially their religion for a thousand years. And it the whole people of China know that if this can happen to Confucius, if we can do this to Confucius, we could do this to you or to anyone we want.
TC: Well, that’s exactly right, and that’s the point. And it’s funny you mentioned the turmoil of 50 years ago, because I was just reading about it. My father was a reporter in San Francisco from 1963 until the mid ’70s for ABC News, so he was there for all of that, right in the center of where it was happening.
And he kept detailed notes and they’re all in bound books, and they happen to be in our barn in Maine, and literally an hour ago, I was sitting at the kitchen table there having a cup of coffee, reading one of his notebooks from the summer of, the winter of 1968.
And he covered a riot at San Francisco State that later became famous because the president of the university, S.I. Hayakawa, stood up to the rioters and was rewarded for it. He was later elected senator from California. But the point is, reading these stories, it’s almost bewildering how closely the rhetoric tracks to what we’re hearing. Now, the difference, and this leaps off of every page, is that the people in charge, by and large, were not for it, when you had, you know, the so-called artistic creative community — you had Hollywood, book publishing, journalism — I mean, they were all [supporting] it, in some cases very for it.
But the people who ran American businesses were not for it at all. The head of General Motors was not cheering on the riots. And that just comes through in reading about it. Now, the most powerful people in America, literally the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos, is funding the riots. Bezos owns the Washington Post, which is cheering on the rioters, helping the rioters think of new things to destroy.
He is not simply an accomplice. He’s a driver of this chaos and violence, and you have to ask yourself, why is that? Wy would people who seem to be so deeply vested in a society work to destroy that society? And it’s actually a quite a question and I don’t fully understand the answer, but it’s something worth ruminating.
Even more striking to me is that nobody says this. A classic revolution consists of people who believe they’re oppressed rebelling against the class above them. Right? You know, I want what you have therefore I’m going to rise up and take it. That’s how we understand revolution.
This is the first revolution I’ve ever heard of this aims downward. I mean, this is an attempt by the most privileged people in our society to crush and humiliate the least privileged in our society. Again, you have to wonder why. There’s something really ominous about that. There’s something really, in addition to, you know how sinister it is and how just immoral what they’ve done is, it’s just a level of kind of bad sportsmanship that I can’t even process. You know what I mean?
The middle of the country is dying. The middle class is dying. The American middle class for the first time in modern history has seen its life expectancy decline, mostly thanks to fentanyl but there are other factors too. So these are the people who have the least, who are in the worst shape, and yet they are the explicit target of the rage of the rioters who really are the ruling class.
I don’t understand that. Why would you attack the weakest in your society? It’s grotesque. It’s contemptible. I mean, there’s something in every person that kind of identifies with the classic revolutionary model, you know, I’m not going to take it anymore I’m going to go free to prisoners from the Bastille.
Even if you don’t support the French Revolution, you understand that impulse. You know, we’re overthrowing the king, I get it. You know, even monarchists understand why people want to overthrow kings. I don’t think normal people could even begin to understand why you would want to degrade and hurt people who are already dying.
CB: What strikes me about all this is, going back to the founding of the United States is something that the conservative movement has been trying to do for decades now. They raise money off of it, they release pamphlets on it, they hold seminars on it, they organize huge groups of people all across the country to support their work, and they’re about as wealthy as they’ve ever been. They’re all over Washington, DC. One has the largest campus of any private landowner in all of Capitol Hill, the Heritage Foundation, which you’ve gone after.
And today, we’ve seen such a switch. I just pulled up a fundraising letter from the Cato Institute, which is founded on returning to the Constitution, returning to America’s heritage, quote individual liberty free markets and constitutionally limited government. And their think tank down on Massachusetts Avenue was boarded up against rioters, and their scholars are tweeting at the rioters that they’re on their side and not sure why they’re being targeted at all.
The Heritage Foundation, which you’ve criticized in your show, they have a new campaign. They’re preaching to all the different conservative groups around Washington to get people to send in video messages of why they’re proud to be an American, and put yard signs in their front lawn, that says they’re proud to be an American. It’s something that people should do and it’s nice to see, but it doesn’t sync up quite with the largest private landowner on Capitol Hill, which stands for the Constitution and the founding, and was worth this much. It’s among the most powerful voices in the room.
What we hope to do — conservatives or people who are afraid, or people of all different political ideologies, we’re afraid of this mob. [Are] the powerful institutions here in DC just irrelevant now?
TC: Well, I mean, it depends upon whether the question refers to the short term, or the long term. Long term, this is a blessing. Because institutional conservatism has been revealed for all time to be utterly fatuous and corrupt. Pointless, in fact worse than pointless. Hilariously, ironically misguided.
I mean, the Heritage Foundation — where I worked, by the way. My first job was at their magazine, Policy Review. And for Cato. I never got paid by Cato, but I was friends with the head of Cato, a guy called Ed Crane was a good guy. I still like Ed Crane. And he gave me the title of visiting scholar or something. I’m not a scholar.
But anyways, the point is, it’s ridiculous. I mean, anyone who has lived in Washington knows this already. Probably the majority of conservatives in Washington work for one of these things. They all preach smaller government, they all grow, you know, quicker than any tumor, you know, themselves.
The whole thing is ridiculous, but what we found out when the chaos began, when things actually began to fall apart, was that not only were they not able to defend us, but they weren’t even interested. I mean the president of the Heritage Foundation, Kay Cole James. God knows what she makes. Her first instinct, when people started burning Wendy’s and beating up bystanders in the street, rioting, literally rioting, was to write a piece in USA Today attacking the United States as racist. And not just superficially racist but racist to its core, and attacking conservatives as racist.
So, it turns out that the president of the largest conservative think tank is on the side of Black Lives Matter. So what does that tell you? It tells you that there’s a profound misalignment between conservatives and the people who supposedly represent them, so profound that it just can’t continue. There’s no point to having the Heritage Foundation or Cato or AEI. I mean all these places are not just a joke, but they’re, they’re worse than that. They’re an abomination.
You know, we should have recognized that. I think most of us did recognize it, but it didn’t seem to matter at the time. But, places like the Heritage Foundation exist, they say, in order to come up with conservative ideas and craft conservative legislation. Obviously they failed in the latter, but the macro point is we already have conservative ideas. Let’s just stick with the Bill of Rights, how’s that?
So we don’t need a conservative foundation like the Heritage Foundation. What we need is a large conservative ACLU, we need a bodyguard. What’s the goal? The goal is to be able to live in the country if you dissent from Apple’s view of the world, or Jeff Bezos his view of the world.
You just want to live the life that you lived 15 years ago, I’m not talking about Antebellum America, I’m talking about, I don’t know, 2005 America. Let’s start there. I’d like to do that. I’d like to live in a country I can go to work, raise my kids, pretty much the way I want to. Not have to hear lectures from self-righteous, dumb people who hate me every day. Not feel like every power center in American life has, you know, it’s muzzle-trained on me.
And that’s very much the experience of living here right now if you disagree with the dogma, and of course I do. So maybe these institutions, which have consumed, literally, and I checked, billions of donor dollars over the years, maybe they can reorient their mission to make it possible to live in this country, if you’re conservative, or even moderately conservative. How about non-crazy?
CB: Do you think they can?
TC: Well, they’re going to. They’re going to and the Republican Party is going to do exactly the same. This is not speculation. It’s a statement of fact, and the reason they’re going to is because people are going to make them. So Kay Cole James is not going to run the Heritage Foundation a year from now and if she does then conservatives deserve it.
You know, Kay Cole James did not create the Heritage Foundation. Their so-called scholars, the ones who are, you know, God knows what they’re pushing, socialized medicine or whatever. Very non-traditional ideas tend to come out of these think tanks, pretty non-conservative ideas. These people didn’t create the institution. Conservatives did.
Mitch McConnell didn’t create the United States Senate. He didn’t create the Republican Party, neither did Kevin McCarthy. Conservatives did. So it’s just a matter of taking back these institutions for the people for whom they were designed and running them as they were meant to be run, which is to say, on the side of the people who pay for them, whose votes allow them to exist. Right? Just half of their own people, their own voters. It’s not hard.
CB: Ever since Bill Buckley and probably before him, people have been talking about how to change the institutions of college, universities, and education. His answer was, at least start by not sending in your money, not funding this thing.
As you’ve said, it’s great to send your kids to Duke but you have to wonder what your kids are being taught before you send them money. Is there a way, do you see any hope for this changing, and the direction of the party, and the think tanks and the conservative DC establishment, changing in any way other than just the long, slow, probably futile slog of trying to defund them?
TC: Oh no. Well, one, I don’t think you have to wonder what your kids are learning at Duke. If they’re taking liberal arts you know for certain they are being destroyed at Duke. Duke is destroying your children. It’s wrecking them. It’s making them hate you, it’s making them hate the country, and worst of all, it’s making them hate themselves.
And so we don’t have to guess about that anymore, it’s very obvious, the mask is off. And that is, I mean, if there’s one thing I’m hopeful about it’s people understanding what’s happening. When things get this radical, there’s no pretending that you know we’re watching a national consensus unfold. No! We’re watching the country, held hostage by a small group of deeply unhappy lunatics who hate everyone else. And no one can deny that. The only people who can deny that other people are paying no attention whatsoever.
But, you know, this is an evangelical faith we’re watching. This is a religious movement, these are evangelicals. It’s not enough for them to take power, they have to make certain that you agree with them. And so when they do take power — it looks like they will — they’re going to force the rest of the country, not simply to obey, but to mouth the lyrics. To, you know, to read the catechism. To nod in their struggle sessions and say, ‘Yes I was wrong, this is what I now believe.’
I mean, that’s their nature. That’s who they are, that’s going to happen. So, once it does happen and to some extent it’s already happening right now today, this afternoon. Once it does happen, nobody can kind of pretend that, you know, things are sort of humming along, maybe not quite due north, but close enough.
I mean there’s no more pretending. In a crisis, anyone who won’t defend you is with the enemy. Period. I know Kay Cole James, and she’s perfectly nice person. I’m not against her as a person. You know I’m not against Ron Johnson, you know, I’m not against Jim Lankford, two United States senators who today introduced legislation to abolish Columbus Day.
CB: Well you have to keep up economic productivity when you give away Juneteenth. I think that was their argument, right?
TC: Their argument is immaterial.
CB: It’s insane.
TC: A mob of revolutionaries are trying to eliminate American history. Why are they doing that? Not because they don’t like the aesthetics of the Columbus statue. No, they’re doing it because they understand that when you eliminate people’s past, you get to control their future. It’s a power grab.
If anyone doesn’t understand that, and anyone who plays along, wittingly or not, is your enemy. Period. So, I mean that’s just what it is. It, kind of, it all becomes very clear. So I’m happy about that because we don’t have to guess.
And I know Ron Johnson and I know Jim Lankford, and I like them both. I think Lankford’s legitimately smart, represents maybe the most conservative state of the union. But doing something like this puts Jim Lankford, you know, on the wrong side. The mob shows up at my house, I know for a dead certainty that Jim Lankford is not going to get out of the chair to save me or my family. Period. And therefore, Jim Lankford is not my friend. Jim Lankford is, in this moment, my enemy. Not personally, but factually.
So, I’m really happy about that. We don’t have to think I wonder if Kay Cole James, you know, is really on my side. Oh, no, we know that she wrote an op-ed in USA Today. And we can move forward with that understanding. It’s not even ideological.
So the debates that Bill Buckley engaged in all those years were really interesting, and I followed all of them and I always admired him. They were essentially ideological. This is a post-ideological moment. There’s not, you know, we’re not defending. You know this is not a transubstantiation debate, right, or this isn’t, you know, here’s the Laffer Curve. Okay, this is Do you get to live here or not?
And anyone who doesn’t see that — once again, sorry to repeat myself — is your enemy. Anyone in a position of authority or power who doesn’t see that. We’re going to the only institution in American life, the only power center, available to conservatives and — Trust me, my strike zone for conservatives is very, very wide, all the way from Angela Nagle who’s a leftist, you know, all the way to you, who is a very, kind of, traditional conservative. That whole spectrum. The whole now very wide category.
Matt Taibbi is in it. Glenn Greenwald is in it. I mean, these are left wingers, okay, but they dissent. Are they, are you, am I, are we going to get to live in this country? Period. So anyway, I’m prone to long-winded answers, but the answer is I’m really happy that we now know who’s on our side.
CB: And you sound optimistic that it will change the organizations that have traditionally been considered and that fundraise off of being there with conservatives will change and change quickly, because as you said, because they have to.
TC: Oh yeah, they’re absolutely going to have to. I mean, of course. In the case of the Heritage Foundation, you know, I think that Kay Cole James is a sincere person, probably. I mean I give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and I’ve always liked her just fine. But, you know, she couldn’t have made it clearer.
And by the way I did a segment on it because I was really offended, and I didn’t just go after her. I went after a bunch of different — Nikki Haley and a bunch of other so-called conservative leaders who, the second the fire started, whipped around and pointing the finger at conservatives. Called them racist.
But within the moment I did that segment, Kay Cole James denounced me as a racist. As if, you know, the only reason that I might disagree with her behavior is because I don’t like black people. That just tells you how deep the corruption is. If the president of the Heritage Foundation has adopted the laziest, most poisonous kind of thinking, which is to reduce everything to race, then the institution itself is beyond saving. I mean, it’s just like completely rotten.
CB: But you don’t advocate for starting new ones?
TC: The edifice is useful. People who understand what we need to do need to move into the Heritage Foundation very, very soon, and take it over, and I think they will.
CB: And you don’t advocate them for — there’s a lot of folks who say, ‘oh abandon the commanding heights of the colleges, abandon the commanding heights of the education system, and abandon the commanding heights of the think tank world and to start again and try to defeat them.’ It’s extremely difficult, obviously. But you don’t advocate for that?
TC: Look, it takes centuries to build functioning and impressive institutions, of course. They’re not legacy institutions by accident, they’re legacy institutions because they have a legacy. So, you know, it’s a longitudinal process. And in point of fact I am for abandoning the universities. Most, not all, but most of them, I think should go out of business and [they would make] fantastic housing.
I mean, housing prices are really high. I don’t know why we shouldn’t be putting, I don’t know, every member of MS13 and their baby mamas in the administration buildings at Brown. I’m not joking. But institutions that purport to represent and defend conservatives, like the Republican Party, like the Heritage Foundation, like AEI. There are many others. I mean, there’s no reason conservatives should abandon their own institutions.
Again, the people who run those institutions didn’t build them, they don’t own them. I feel this way about the high school I went to, that every one of my family went to. It’s moving in a direction that I disagree with. And part of me thinks, Well, I’m not going to have anything to do with it. Part of me thinks the people moving in that direction, don’t they don’t own the school. It’s passing through their hands, just as all institutions do.
We intersect with them and then our places are taken by other people. We don’t have a right to destroy something we didn’t build. And, and I would say that Jim Lankford, you know, doesn’t have a right to the Republican Party. By the way, people like that are — [Senator] Mike Braun, we had Mike Braun on the other night, yes perfectly nice person. You know he’s a senator from Indiana, he endorsed Black Lives Matter.
I know plenty of people who are for Black Lives Matter. A lot of them are nice people. I’m not mad at them, I disagree. I think Black Lives Matter is poison. Okay, they have another view, that’s all right. But they’re not Republican senators. Their job isn’t to make it possible for my children to live in this country.
And he’s abandoned his job. He’s served his duty. And he should be bounced out of that position. He should lose a seat over that. And if I’m still on television, I’m going to do everything I possibly can to make sure that happens.
And the same for Jim Lankford. The same for anybody who refuses to defend his voters in a time of crisis, just back to what I said in the first five minutes. It’s like, dad abandoned the family, and now the family has fallen prey to the jackal. So whose fault is that? The jackal’s? No. It’s dad’s fault, because it was his job and he didn’t do it.
CB: There’s, there’s a pushback against trying to get involved by a lot of folks, a lot of normal people. A friend of mine’s father says the problem with voting a lot of time and volunteering at church is the people who have a lot of time to spend volunteering at church can be very difficult sometimes to deal with, because conservatives conservatives generally have not done the hard work and have left it up to the activists who’ve taken it over.
But when you’re surveying this elite ruling class revolution against the impoverished in the middle class of America, what do you see as the most powerful institutions — on the left, I’m not seeing anything on the right — but what on the left are the powerful institutions, the driving forces of revolution that they’ve managed to bring up since the ’30s, ’50s ’60s, ’70s, and to where they are today, where they run our streets?
TC: Well you know, it’s every institution depicted in American life. And I’m not going to rant about how Republicans failed to keep any of these institutions, because I spent my whole life doing that on television on that and I hate repeating myself.
CB: Of course.
TC: But clearly Republicans allowed all of this to happen. They focused all of their energy on tax rates, which, by the way, can be changed with a single vote. You know what I mean? You spend your life trying to change – and I’m for lower taxes and I’m not trying to make an argument going for higher taxes, I guess. I’m just saying talk about misapplied energy, talk about wasted time.
What they should have been doing is keeping a very close eye on the society itself, and how their voters were doing and how Americans were doing, and they didn’t. So if every power center in American life is arrayed on one side, obviously finance, tech, journalism, or mainstream religious institutions, our federal law enforcement agencies, the intelligence agencies, the Pentagon — absolutely the Pentagon, conservatives don’t want to admit that, but it’s true. We’ve allowed for years senior officers to get promotion credit by going to Princeton. Really? I mean what do you think that’s about? I mean that’s as captured an institution as we have.
Why do you think we’re still in Afghanistan, why do you think we bombed Syria twice? You know, these are ideologues, and they’re, they’re part of the blob. So, but if I were to create a hierarchy of power, obviously, the capstone in that pyramid would be Google. The most powerful company in the history of the world. Its power far outstrips that of the U.S. government because it controls all human information in English. And once you control the terms, you control the outcome. You control the information because of the words themselves.
Then there’s really nothing we don’t control, and they do. Their search engine, the Google search engine, is the portal through which more than 90 percent of all human information in English flows. So there’s nothing that compares to that. There’s never been a company that powerful. There’s never been a company close to as powerful.
I mean, William Randolph Hearst owned, I don’t know, a dozen newspapers. He was considered a threat to democracy because was too much power concentrated in the hands of one man. He was conservative, so that that’s why people were so alarmed. But magnify that influence times infinity and you approach where Google is now.
Now it’s a little late to be grousing about what we should have done. But clearly, the U.S. government’s legitimacy is imperiled by Google. You can’t have an institution in your country that’s more powerful than the government. Right? Or else you cease to be in any meaningful sense a democracy. And yet we’ve allowed Google to grow into that, abetted by the way by the U.S. Congress, as you know.
So anyway, yeah, I mean think it’d be very difficult for Trump to win an election with Google weighing in. I think it’s very difficult for the Congress to function as intended. And I think it’s very difficult for people who don’t agree with Google to have a voice. As long as Google is what it is.
CB: And it’s not exactly the kind of institution that can be replicated on the right.
TC: Right. I mean, like, I can’t even engage in this debate and this just shows you how bankrupt conservative institutions have become. You get this lecture about competition, it’s not a monopoly and Senator Mike Lee of Utah, a very smart guy and I’ve no doubt a decent person but utterly intellectually corrupt. I mean, utterly. You know, but giving you this lecture about how this is how markets work.
Well, there’s no intersection between monopolies and markets. Monopolies make markets impossible. I mean, by definition, Google is a monopoly. And no of course you can’t start your own Google and it’s insulting to suggest something like that.
I don’t like politicians, I never have. I know them all. I don’t admire any of them. Maybe the only politician is, other than George Washington, Teddy Roosevelt. And Teddy Roosevelt understood this and Teddy Roosevelt saved capitalism and made the middle class possible by reining in the power of the group we call the robber barons.
And watching New York decide to tear a statue down because racism, somehow, I’ve been so struck by how few conservatives have marched to the podium to defend Teddy Roosevelt. And then I remembered. Oh, of course, they hate Teddy Roosevelt, the most popular president in American history, because he questioned the monopolies.
And they’re all actually monopolists. They are, they’re not. They’re not market people. If they were in favor of free markets they’d be horrified by our tech sector, so many of which operate with effective monopolies. Ninety percent of all digital news is effectively controlled by Google and Facebook because they control digital advertising.
CB: I’ve lived it.
TC: That’s not a market. You’ve lived it, I have too. Consider the effect of that. If all your news organizations are controlled by two companies, that’s not a market. That’s Orwellian. That’s a nightmare.
And they’ve said nothing about it. I could pile on for hours about how unimpressive, and how derelict conservatives have been and I’ll stop but I just I just want to reiterate, this will change. These people have failed. You know, we had an acid test, and they were proved to be counterfeit. And they will be replaced.
CB: You had a great piece in Politico magazine years ago when Donald Trump ran for president, where you compared him favorably with Teddy Roosevelt, saying that the American people don’t appreciate a mob outside the mansion screaming that they want everything inside. But they do appreciate somebody inside the mansion taking a chair and throwing it to the window and stating this entire house is corrupt. That’s what Teddy Roosevelt was and that’s what you hoped Donald Trump would do as a traitor to his elite class.
He’s actually begun to move in that direction in the past week — I think in no small part because of you — and try to crack down and to bring in Bill Barr and bring in the influence of the United States as much as he can. Is the president actually able to have in real life an impact on this, when you’ve got a military that apologizes for him but he threatens use them, and a House and Senate that are largely silent?
And Tom Cotton goes out and writes an op-ed in The New York Times, Republicans don’t rush out to defend him but he’s stricken from their pages and they apologize. Are people like Trump and Cotton alone? Are the institutions of power so arrayed against them that they can’t even, they’re essentially neutered in their positions?
TC: No, they’re not neutered. Of course they have power. They have less power than they ought to have. In the case of the president, that’s his fault. You get what you put up with. You let your kids roll a joint at the breakfast table, the next thing they’re shooting heroin at the lunch table, of course. They’re your kids.
This is his administration. These are his generals. This is his FBI. This is his CIA. And if you spend four years letting them give you the finger, you shouldn’t be surprised when they burn your house down. So you get what you put up with. You can’t put up with that sh-t, not for one second. That’s my view, whatever.
But here we are. Of course he retains power. He’s the president of the United States. Simply saying aloud why this is bad is helpful. He’s doing that. I’m grateful, I think a lot of people are. But you also have this problem of justice — the most powerful law enforcement agency in the world, the FBI, under you. You run the FBI. It’s part of the executive branch for the president. So how hard can it be to arrest the perpetrator since the perpetrators are all on video?
All of it is knowable, all of it is provable. It was filmed. There’s never been a revolution televised like this one has been. So, sure, of course you can bring them to justice. There’s pushback, well nobody wants to do it. Well, okay, tough. We’re doing it. Period. Like now.
CB: And the voters want it.
TC: Yeah, of course the voters want it. And if you want to know why Trump has lost 10 points in the past month, it’s really simple. Riot and revolution, upheaval like this, cruelty — we’re seeing that on a mass scale — makes people’s lives worse.
I don’t think he should send the 82nd Airborne into Atlanta. I’m not saying that. It’s enough to arrest people, it’s enough to use the system.
By the way, if you don’t use the system, the system collapses. This is an attack on our system, particularly our justice system. The basic idea behind our justice system is we’re all equal under the law. Period. The law does not take into account who your parents were or what color you are. We haven’t always lived up to that, needless to say, but that’s the point of it. That’s why our justice system is different.
And Black Lives Matter and Antifa and their many enablers in the media and the Congress are trying to change that and replace it with a system that takes a lot of accounts of who your parents were and what you look like, and what your race is. And so if you want to stop that from happening — and I think we do because that would make America a country you don’t want to live in — then you use your system already in place for 240 years to stop it. And in doing that, you establish your legitimacy.
Right? In other words, when people see the leaders of Antifa in shackles, they will know the system is defending itself, and defending us from people who are seeking overthrow. If they don’t see that, if this stuff goes on unchallenged, then people begin to wonder why, why should I support the system? It’s impotent. It doesn’t work. It’s old. You know what I mean?
It’s sort of like, if you have a relative who you really respect, the second that person begins to show signs of senility you love them every bit as much, but you don’t seek their advice anymore. You can’t help it; you respect him less. Right? I’m not saying you leave them on an ice floe. But it’s just that’s human nature. We respect the strong. We have contempt for the weak. We’re animals.
You know, if you have two dogs and one of them is very sick, you don’t leave the dogs together because the healthy one will kill the sick one. That’s the dog’s instinct. Kill the weak. And there’s a little bit of that in all of us.
And if we forget that, then we make unwise decisions, and the unwise decision that our leaders have made is imagine that by accommodating the revolution, the revolution will be. And you know that’s not true. It’s the opposite of what’s true, and it suggests that they don’t really understand people very well.
CB: At least Jeff Bezos realizes that the best way to survive is to be at the front of the revolution.
TC: I mean, Jeff Bezos — online as a factual matter, as a matter of news. There are a lot of e-commerce businesses that are very vulnerable to social media pressure, of course. If you exist only online and you feel you’re being targeted by organized groups of people online, then you will bow to their to their will and that all makes sense. You’ve got a lot at stake.
Jeff Bezos has nothing to do. Jeff Bezos is literally the richest man in the history of the world. Jeff Bezos could probably do anything, and he’d still die as the richest person in the world. So why is he doing this? And I think there are a bunch of different reasons and I don’t fully understand it. I think part of it is, you know, destroying independent business increases market share. COVID and the riots have destroyed countless independent businesses, so it’s good for the bottom line for Jeff Bezos, but it’s deeper than that clearly.
And I think it has to do with the guilt that affluent Americans feel about the changes in our economy that basically have awarded smart people and screwed everybody else. And that’s why we have this really dramatic income inequality — which I wrote a whole book on, predicting you’re going to get a revolution and okay it happened. And I’m hardly a genius. It was just so obvious. What we’re looking at is a revolution, driven by economic anxiety and frustration over the way the fruits of our economy are distributed.
I mean that’s what’s really happening. I wish people would just say it. Anyway, whatever. So Jeff Bezos feels bad about it, but I do think guilt and self-hatred clearly play a role in our elite participation.
CB: So the tools exist as you said, 20 years ago Pat Buchanan was complaining about this when the NAACP attacked Bush’s cabinet appointees as ‘Taliban-wing’ and ‘extreme right’ and ‘devoted to the Confederacy.’ And he was sitting there longing for the moral certitude of, say, the anti-religious right Democratic Party.
He said that a party, a conservative party that believed in itself would have had the IRS look into the NAACP to make sure that partisan attacks weren’t a violation of its tax status, to cut off discretionary federal funds until the chairman was fired, to ask major corporations and donors if they stood by these kind of attacks on the president, to amend the tax laws to go after organizations like Ford.
But instead they wrote a letter saying that this was disappointing and asked to meet. Of course they were turned down. This is a longstanding problem, and you see that kind of return to the certainty and the fighting faith, after this rebellion, after we’ve reached rock bottom, the conservatives who realize — and as you say, anyone who thinks the founding of this country is good, this is an inherently just and free society that’s just worth defending, anyone conservative, liberal — this might reinvigorate that spirit to stand up and fight with moral certitude again?
TC: Well, it’s hard to know. I mean one thing we do know is that crisis, high levels of stress, change people. So you’re not the same after it happened. And I’m sure you could go through your own life and think of the moments where something really stressful occurred in your life and then two years later you’re really not the same person. So, we know that things will be very, very different after this, the question is, how?
And, look, I mean, let’s be honest, what you’re seeing is the people in charge, trying to cement a kind of race war. That’s the left doing this. Attacking people for their skin color, really attacking them, really attacking them in ways that are dangerous that suggest that we want to, we want to really hurt you physically, saying that. Because of how you were born.
So there’s really nothing more threatening. What’s the effect going to be? Well, I keep thinking that they clearly want to create really radical race politics, because you wouldn’t do this unless you wanted to create really radical race politics, because by doing it, you are going to create radical race politics. And by radical race politics I mean politics in which people would identify first and foremost by their skin color. You know, I am this party because I am this color.
I cannot be emphatic enough: I don’t want to live in that country. Because it doesn’t end well. It never ends well.
CB: Sounds like South Africa.
TC: People don’t actually coexist peacefully under those terms. One side has to vanquish the other and that suggests violence and that’s why there is violence when you have tribalism. So I don’t want that. I think it’s bad. B
ut if they don’t stop right now, we’re going to get that, because how could we not get that. They’re saying you’re required to think of yourself first and foremost as a person who possesses your skin color. That’s the most important thing about you: what color you are. They’re like crazed, wild-eyed racists, obviously.
And if you keep telling people that, and you tell their children that, after a while, they will begin to think about themselves primarily as who they are racially. And so anyway, God knows what happens when that starts. I mean, seriously, but they. Anyway, I have a lot to say about that, but I’ll stop there.
I think the only answer at this point, and I keep saying this on TV, no one else seems to say it along with me, but the only answer is to fall back on our fundamental defense, which is the country itself. Its customs. Its founding documents. We should, as non-revolutionaries, say out loud, every day: ‘We want this to be a colorblind meritocracy.’
A colorblind meritocracy where you’re not judged in the eyes of the law for how you look, for who your parents were, but for what you do. Make no accommodation whatsoever. If you want to live in a just society, a non-racist society. Everyone’s pushing this ‘I want to live in a nonracist society.’ Okay, well what does that look like? A nonracist society is a society in which you are not judged for your race, by definition, so let’s stop judging people. Period.
CB: Our newest monument in the National Mall was Martin Luther King, who gave that famous speech at the Lincoln Monument. But on Tuesday night, you outlined a Republican platform that you think is something that they’d need to stand for, something very positive.
And to break it down quite more quickly than you did, or more succinctly I guess, would be a vigorous defense of total quality, like you just spoke about: defense of freedom of speech, vigorous, unending defense of freedom of speech, and of middle class at the core, not rich corporations and not simply pandering to the working core, but a middle class which forms a strong America. So, when are you going to run on that platform?
TC: Well, I’m not running on anything. I would be assassinated if I ran. Not by Democrats, but by my daughters who are basically nonviolent. You know, no, I’m a talk show host. That’s my job, it’s what I enjoy doing, it’s what I’ve always done, so I’m going to keep doing that.
But I do think we’ve gotten to a place where people just accept that we live in a society where your kids aren’t going to get certain jobs or get into a certain school because of their skin color. And I feel like thanks to the whole country, people of all colors, listen to yourself. Listen to what you’re saying. That’s grotesque.
Slavery and segregation were immoral because they judge people for the color of their skin, and yet we’re all accepting and participating in a system where that’s the rule. And why are we doing that? And why are conservatives going along with it and boy, are they.
I can’t remember the last time I heard a conservative say, ‘No, your race should have no role in whether you’re hired.’ If should have no role in what you’re getting into college, which we, I guess still accept is the is the ladder to success. Like why, really? Why are we accepting that? It’s totally immoral. And so I hope people will say that, ‘Yeah, I want to live in a nonracist society.’ But in order to do that you have to try, and trying means moving race from its position of primacy back out to the periphery where it belongs.
You know, this guy’s an amazing engineer, he happens to be Filipino or whatever, I don’t care. That’s the country you want to live in. You don’t want to live in a country that says ‘I need three Filipino engineers.’ That’s insane. You know that’s apartheid South Africa. You know what I mean, Tuscaloosa 1950. You don’t want that. Why do we want that? I don’t want that and I’ll never accept that.
And I don’t care what name they call me. I will never accept that. I think it’s wrong. And by the way, I will say one more time. If we keep this crap up, I’m telling you, we’re going to have a very ugly political landscape. I mean, I mean it too. Because some people are going to say, you know what, screw it. Guys want me to think of myself in terms of my skin color. Now I do, and all people who look like me need to come together. And then we’re going to take up arms or what, you know, God knows where it will go. Don’t do this.
They’re so reckless, the people doing this. They’re children. They should have no access to the levers of power.
CB: Well, Tucker, you’ve got a show to get to, so I won’t keep you much longer. Have a happy July Fourth. I hope you get to spend it relaxed, away from this with the rest of the country on a weekend with family and friends remembering the reason why we’re proud and the things we’re fighting for.
TC: I will be waist deep in a trout stream. Fortunately, it’s getting to a dry fly season here in Maine, so I will be throwing large mayfly invitations at hungry brook trout. Say a prayer.
CB: I will, for them and for you and, and hopefully at least dinner with the family.
CB: And this has been another edition of The Federalist Radio Hour. You can follow us on social media @FDRLST. And until next time, be lovers of freedom and anxious for the fray.