Ahead of the G20 summit in Osaka, Vladimir Putin told the Financial Times that “the liberal idea has become obsolete,” a line that drew sharp rebuke from the democratic world.
But when President Donald Trump was asked about the line by Peter Baker of The New York Times, he didn’t even appear to understand what Putin was talking about, responding with a confused rant about how terrible California is.
Los Angeles and San Francisco, Trump said, are “sad to look at” because they are run by “liberal people”:
Putin, of course, was not talking about “liberal” in the sense of California or the Democratic Party. He was talking about the whole concept of Western, pluralistic, multicultural democracy, and arguing that giving marginalized groups like refugees and LGBTQ persons human rights is dying off.
Even if Trump had understood Putin, it is not clear he wouldn’t agree, given that his administration is rolling back LGBTQ protections, holding asylum seekers in camps with no soap and toothpaste, and broadly pushing to remove federal protections for the democratic process.