John Kerry Tells Yale: We're In Some Trouble

Oct 9, 2018

Former Secretary of State John Kerry said what he calls “tribalism” in government is threatening our democracy. He told an audience at Yale University Monday that he believes the destruction of the traditions of the Senate has put compromise out of reach in current politics. 

“I think it’s fair to say, particularly given the last few weeks in Washington...we’re in some trouble,” Kerry told his interviewer, journalist Thomas Friedman. “It’s bothered me a lot. I’ve watched the progressive deterioration of the traditional workings of the Senate, and it’s just become worse and worse.”

He described Donald Trump as effectively having carried out a “hostile takeover of the Republican party.”

Kerry said that old, relationship-oriented rules of politics are being reshaped, and elected officials are more afraid of being primaried by extreme challengers than of facing voters in a general election.

“General elections in America have been gerrymandered to hell,” he said. “In the House you can’t have a legitimate democratic election in the United States any more.”

Kerry believes that domestic upheaval is eroding American leadership around the world.

“That is now at risk, and I think we have to reclaim it. And in 35 days we have the first course-correction election in which we can do that,” he told the audience at Yale School of Management. “And then over time, if you all will be engaged and people will exercise their citizenship, we can reclaim our country. That’s how it works.”

Kerry last year founded an ongiong interdisciplinary initiative at Yale that aims to tackle global challenges through research and dialogue.