Adam Schiff discusses the high-stakes battle over the future of US democracy

US Representative Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, joined Michael Waldman ’87, president of the Brennan Center for Justice, in an online conversation in November that focused on the issues raised in Schiff’s recent book, Midnight in Washington: How We Almost Lost Our Democracy and Still Could. Schiff and Waldman discussed the impeachment trials of Donald Trump, threats to voting rights, the widening divide between the two major US political parties, the role of social media in promoting polarization, the January 6 insurrection, and what ordinary citizens can do to help protect democracy.

Watch the video of the discussion:

Selected remarks by Adam Schiff:

“Just how truly global the world economy is now, but also the advent of automation, has meant that millions of people at home and abroad have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, and millions of others are at risk of falling out of the middle class. And it’s [not] when people [are] at their poorest that they come to embrace radical solutions or revolution, it’s when they are at risk of losing what they have. And I think the last decade has [seen] millions of people around the world desperately fearing they’re going to lose what they have, and that has provided a ripe environment for the rise of despotism.” (video 14:26)

“It happens when you’re asked to tell a small lie and then a slightly larger one, when you’re asked to do something slightly unethical and then more unethical, and pretty soon you’re so far in where you feel your position relies on your continuation of that pattern, that the pattern is set. And that is what has brought us to this point. There’s no flaw in the Constitution that I can identify. We shouldn’t amend the impeachment clause to make it a majority vote and turn our Congress into a parliament. That’s not the problem. The problem is if our representatives don’t give meaning to their oath, if they don’t inform their decision making by ideas of right and wrong, if they’re not willing to accept the truth, then none of it really works.” (video 25:47)

Posted January 13, 2022