University of Montana welcomes Condoleezza Rice and Michael McFaul
This week, the Mansfield Center at the University of Montana presented a ZOOM conversation titled “Fostering Freedom at Home and Abroad” with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul.
Secretary Rice began by sharing some of her experience.
“I would just like to note that I grew up in segregated Birmingham, Alabama, and later took an oath to the Constitution of the United States of America which once numbered my ancestors as three-fifths of a man, so our Constitution is capable of channeling peaceful change,” Secretary Rice began.
For his part, Ambassador McFaul, originally from Montana, shared an exchange he had with a Russian native.
“I too am optimistic about the American democratic system like Condi,” Ambassador McFaul said. “The other day I was debating on a podcast about Russia with a Moscow-born friend of mine, and I seemed slightly more optimistic than her about the future of democracy in Ukraine. podcast, she said, “You know Mike, I’ve known you for a long time. The fundamental difference between the two of us, why you’re so optimistic and I’m pessimistic, is that I was born in Moscow and you were born in Montana.
Secretary Rice addressed the challenges facing US institutions.
“American institutions face real challenges,” she said. “First and foremost, I think it’s the challenge of a lack of trust in these institutions by Americans themselves. Poll after poll after poll shows that Americans have less confidence in their electoral process. , they have less trust in the institutions of Congress, in the presidency, and they don’t trust the media. And so no great democracy can flourish if there is a lack of trust in the institutions, and I think that we need to start understanding what is causing this lack of confidence.
Ambassador McFaul said his high school debate partner is now U.S. Senator Steve Daines and, in his opinion, most Americans aren’t all red or all blue, but mostly purple.
“You know, if you’re on TV, or you’re on Twitter, God forbid, and you don’t interact directly with people, it’s really easy to see them as bad and stupid and reactionary. or radical communists or fascists, but when you’re talking to people and interacting with them, it’s a lot harder to do,” he said. “I think anecdotally, that’s true every I say that as a Democrat at the Hoover Institution, by the way, and I just think the modalities of doing it at the micro level can help us get to the macro level that we want, which, I think, is where most Americans are purple, not red and blue.”
The conversation focused on the hard work of creating and maintaining democracy, with topics ranging from the importance of engaging rural America to Russian aggression in Ukraine.
Click here to view the entire conversation between Secretary Rice and Ambassador McFaul.
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