Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) former campaign manager Steve Schmidt left the Republican Party after having his fill of President Donald Trump. In a discussion with MSNBC's Chris Hayes, Schmidt waxed poetic on the strength and beauty of the United States and the American people. But when it came to Trump, he did not speak as beautifully.
Schmidt said that he came to the realization after standing on Juno Beach and visiting a Canadian cemetery
"And understanding the value of the U.S.-led liberal, global, order that emerged from the aftermath of humanity's greatest tragedy which killed 80 million people and left the world in ruins," he described. "That liberal, global, order is worth defending. This president is an autocrat. He is not a small 'd' Democrat. He doesn't believe in liberal democracy."
He said what he sees are five behaviors.
1. Trump "incites fervor in a base through constant lying," Schmidt said.
2. Trump then tries to "scapegoat minority populations and he affixes blame for complex problems to them and them alone."
3. Trump "alleges conspiracies that are hidden and nefarious and linked to those scapegoated populations."
4. Trump "spreads a sense of victimizations among those fervent supporters."
5. Trump "asserts the need to exert heretofore unprecedented power to protect his victim-class from the conspiracies and the scapegoated populations."
These are all behaviors of totalitarianism, he said. Understanding this, he said, you can see how democracies fall.
"Now, the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, I would argue, and you and I disagree on many many things but we are fidelities to liberal democracy," Schmidt continued. "That government 'of the people, by the people, for the people' must continue. And the Republican Party has abdicated. And 'conservative' has become synonymous with obedience to the leader. A leader who says, 'I am the law. I am above the law. I will define what truth is.' Truth is what the leader says it is. Not what we would have recognized months ago as objective truth. So, the Republican Party has become a threat to liberal democracy all over the world."
He noted there is aggression in Poland, Hungary and the rise of far-right ethno-nationalist parties," Schmidt continued. "And the last time this happened, it unleashed a tragedy the likes of which the world has never seen. And I think there's a real lack of imagination in this country about how fragile these institutions are and about how dangerous a president as unprepared, as authoritarian, as ignorant as he is, and the damage that he would be able to cause."
The two then launched into a conversation about Trump's attack on Muslims and Latinos fleeing safety. "He claims groups like MS-13 and ISIS are horrible enemies of the world, yet when people fleeing those groups come to the U.S. for help, he slams the door in their faces."
"This was a gift to the extremists," Schmidt called Trump's Muslim ban. "This was a fulfillment of bin Laden's strategy, which was to precipitate a global conflict, a war of civilizations between the west and between Islam. We don't want to be at war with a billion Muslims all over the world in a 21st century crusade. So, the stigmatizing of good and decent people in the insult given to the Muslim soldiers who have served this country, who have sacrificed, it is appalling."
"You look at regression of democracy to an autocracy, all through history, when you look at violations of civil liberties they have always occurred through a prism of fear, fear is a contagion," Schmidt continued. "It erodes democratic values and institutions but always in the name of security and civil liberties are compromised. That lesson has been learned through history. And here we are repeating it again."
He went on to say that the "moral shame that comes from internment camps and precisely what they are for toddlers and children who are stripped away, some of those children stripped away from breastfeeding mothers, it is a shame that will linger a stench that will linger around this vile administration."
Watch his full commentary below: