Twice-failed presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told The Guardian recently that she believed Europe should curb migration in order to stop the rise of rightwing populism. She also speculated that in America the rise of populism may be because Americans “don’t want that much responsibility and freedom. They want to be told what to do and where to go and how to live.”
“I think Europe needs to get a handle on migration because that is what lit the flame,” she told The Guardian in an interview published Thursday.
She argued that leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel need to send a clear message that they will no longer be able to provide refuge and support.
“I admire the very generous and compassionate approaches that were taken particularly by leaders like Angela Merkel,” she said, “but I think it is fair to say Europe has done its part, and must send a very clear message – ‘we are not going to be able to continue provide refuge and support’ – because if we don’t deal with the migration issue it will continue to roil the body politic.”
Her advice to Europe on the issue stands in contrast to her immigration stance on the 2016 campaign trail where she called for embracing immigrants and even expanding access to healthcare to families in the country illegally.
Her comment that Europe should curb migration drew shocked reactions from immigration advocates and scholars.
“I was kind of shocked,” Eskinder Negash, the president and chief executive of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, said. “If she’s simply saying you need to cut down on refugees coming to Europe to ask for asylum because they have a well-founded fear of persecution, just to appease some right-wing political leaders, it’s just not the right thing to do.”
Clinton also accused President Trump of exploiting the immigration issue as a “political device.”
“The use of immigrants as a political device and as a symbol of government gone wrong, of attacks on one’s heritage, one’s identity, one’s national unity has been very much exploited by the current administration here,” she claimed.
Clinton argued that rightwing populists in Europe and the U.S. met “a psychological as much as political yearning to be told what to do, and where to go, and how to live and have their press basically stifled and so be given one version of reality.
She then specifically accused Americans of wanting to “be told what to do and where to go and how to live” and speculated that they were “tired” of freedom and democracy.
“The whole American system was designed so that you would eliminate the threat from a strong, authoritarian king or other leader and maybe people are just tired of it,” she said. “They don’t want that much responsibility and freedom. They want to be told what to do and where to go and how to live … and only given one version of reality.”
“I don’t know why at this moment that is so attractive to people,” she concluded, “but it’s a serious threat to our freedom and our democratic institutions, and it goes very deep and very far and we’ve got to do a better job of shining a light on it and trying to combat it.”