Here is a taste:
Woodruff: There’s an animosity, a personal nature to the differences that people feel now about politics. What is the effect that Donald Trump is having on that? And if he were reelected, what effect would it have?
Frum: Well, I wonder whether there’s really more division in the country today than at other points in the past.
Remember the feeling about Vietnam and the draft. I bet families had a tumult sitting down over dinner in 1969, ’70, and ’71. Debates over civil rights and the integration of schools in the early 1950s and early 1960s, I bet there are families that had difficulty reconciling about that.
But back then, the political system saw its job as managing. Leaders knew, this is an incredibly diverse country, rural versus urban, race upon race, ethnicity upon ethnicity, religion upon religion, sometimes men against women, young against old, rich against poor, all of these potential fault lines.
And it’s the job of the people who meet in the buildings down the road here to manage that, to say, we keep — while everyone else is getting excited, we keep our cool. And we remember that what is really important are dams and roads and high schools and defense plants. And we’re going to make the deals based on that. And we’re all just going to lower the temperature at the center.
But the political circle at the top no longer sees these conflicts as dangers to manage. They see them as resources to exploit. And Donald Trump is better at this than just about anybody, that they take this dangerous stuff, and they say that is going to be not something I’m going to try to contain, but something I will use for fuel.
Woodruff: What effect does that have on today’s divisions?
Frum: We will be more fractious, we will be more argumentative, because all the demons that exist in any society will not only be liberated by the political system, but will be encouraged, because Donald Trump will be looking to his constituency of very upset people in order to impose his lawless will upon the constitutional system.
I want to get away with Watergate. I want to pardon myself. I want to fire prosecutors. I want to do all the things that Nixon did and many of the things that Nixon never dared to do. And I’m telling you in advance I’m going to do them. And I want my followers to frighten the political system into letting me have my way.
Woodruff: “And if Trump does use the criminal justice system to shut down investigations into his own conduct, including alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election, the consequences will be dire, according to Frum.”
Frum: The country will be in the streets. Congress will be in an uproar. We will talk about nothing else. There will be no other policy. There will be no other topic. You won’t be able to accomplish anything. There will be resignations from the Department of Justice. There may be resignations from the military. It is going to be chaos, and the chaos will never stop.
Woodruff: And if, conversely, Joe Biden wins reelection, what happens to the current state of our country, of our polarized state?
Frum: Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychiatry, is supposed to have said that the purpose of psychiatry is to convert hysterical obsessive neurosis into ordinary unhappiness.
If Joe Biden wins, we get all our usual problems back, rich versus poor, urban versus rural, climate change, deficits, structure of world peace, trade with China. Not a single problem will be fixed, but we will have a working set of institutions with which to address the problems. And our disagreements won’t go away.
You will just have non-sociopathic, non-psychopathic people saying, OK, the people outside this room disagree a lot. We are going to sit down at the table and find something we can agree on, so that I can take something to my people and you can take something to your people.
Read the entire interview here.