Transcript: Deval Patrick on "Face the Nation"

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The following is the transcript of an interview with former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick that aired Sunday, Sept. 4, 2022, on "Face the Nation."

MAJOR GARRETT: Welcome back to Face The Nation, we turn now to Deval Patrick, former governor of Massachusetts, who before that led the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division during the Clinton administration. He joins us this morning from Richmond, Massachusetts. Governor, thanks for making time. Good to see you.


MAJOR GARRETT: So you're out of politics now, your focus at the Kennedy School at Harvard is on leadership. How comfortable were you with President Biden's speech last week, and also a speech that Republicans will remember that the President gave earlier this year when he compared changes that Republicans made in voting laws in Georgia, to Jim Crow and violent, enforced segregation of another era? Are you comfortable with that kind of rhetoric?

FMR GOV PATRICK: You know what, a friend of mine says that we've been treating our democracy for a long time in this country as if it would tolerate limitless abuse without breaking. And when you add up the 19 states and their vote suppression laws recently, and you look at that, alongside the amount of money, so much of a dark, which has been permitted into our politics and our policy making the radical purging rules, the ways in which we have distorted the democratic process as a means to achieve better lives for citizens, it is deeply worrisome. And it's gotten worse because of election deniers. So I celebrate the President's speech, you know, any one of us would choose different words. But I think it is great that the President first of all calls things what they are, and- and also reminds us that the purpose of democracy is a means to assure liberty and justice for all, and we have to care about that process and that purpose, for those reasons.

MAJOR GARRETT: Governor, in our focus group that our audience will see in a few moments of Trump supporters, one pointed out that Democrats raised objections in 2000, and they wouldn't let them go. They raised objections in 2004, some wouldn't let them go, and in 2016, raised objections and wouldn't let them go. And they consider Democrat criticism of Republican objections to what they saw in 2020 hypocritical. Respond to that.

FMR GOV PATRICK: Well, I think it's important for us to hear that first of all, and to really try to process that, I think I experienced that differently. I think when-when Donald Trump- if what you mean is objections to Donald Trump winning the presidency, I don't think there was any Democrat calling the-the election itself illegitimate, because the outcome was surprising or disappointing to Democrats. I think it is important, though, to acknowledge that there is frustration that runs pretty deep throughout the political spectrum about democracy as a path to a better future. And that is because I think we've been treating it in this- in these kind of careless ways for a long, long time. It's a whole other order of magnitude. And that is serious enough, but a whole order-other order of magnitude to say that democracy is illegitimate, unless the outcome is the one you want, or the one you voted-voted for. I don't think that's what Democrats were objecting to, in the policy choices of Donald Trump and those who have supported him. That's a very, very different thing.

MAJOR GARRETT: Governor, as you well know, democracy is sustained on a generational basis, you deal a lot, I gather, with leadership and the question of their of, with younger American students, what is their orientation to democracy? Do they want direct democracy, and you have to explain to them, we don't have direct democracy in our country, we have representational democracy, and do you work them through that? And what's their level of optimism or pessimism?

FMR GOV PATRICK: What-what great questions first of all, I think the students at the Kennedy School, the young people I meet all around the country give me tremendous amount of encouragement. And they- and I think they are, they should encourage all of us. I think their sense of patriotism runs deep. I think their sense of urgency is, is also natural, and the thing not to be tamped down. Because there are unmet needs, many of which, you know, cross all kinds of differences, reach people in every part of the- of the country, and were undeniable, in the experience we all shared going through the COVID 19 pandemic. I think that the notion of being engaged, of- of taking responsibility for- for this generation and generations to come is enormously important and encouraging. And one of the things I try to encourage in them is that they look for and think about and reject the false choices that so many of our would be leaders tell us. You know, you don't have to hate the members of another party to be a member in good standing of your own and the same way you don't have to hate business to-to advocate for social and economic justice or to hate the police to believe black lives matter. But we are sold so many of these kinds of false choices in our current political discourse, and I keep encouraging the young people who want to be involved and who are trying to encourage others of all generations to be engaged to be alert to those false choices and reject them. Because the fact is, most people aren't-aren't buying 100% of what either party is selling, you know, that, MAJOR.

MAJOR GARRETT: Governor, we have less than a minute left. Do you think the business and corporate community in America needs to be more involved in the democracy debate? And if so, how?

FMR GOV PATRICK: I think the business community is becoming more involved in business leaders in the democracy debate. The question of where they stand as a-as an entity on any given issue. Any given policy is another story. And that's more delicate, I think, for businesses, but the question about whether participatory democracy is a thing to celebrate and encourage, and where it is suppressed or frustrated or encumbered to be called out and condemned, I think that's something that business leaders have to show leadership on because that involves all of us. And the truth is–


FMR GOV PATRICK: capitalism depends on democracy.

MAJOR GARRETT: Former governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, thanks so much for your time. We will be right back.

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