CHICAGO -- America can trace the rise of Donald Trump to the breakdown of its most basic institutions, Condoleezza Rice said this morning.
Without mentioning the Republican candidate by name, Rice said Americans are angry enough to vote for chaos.
"People are fighting back," Rice told a crowd of about 1,000 at LIMRA's 2016 Annual Conference. "They need an explanation why that $20-an-hour labor job is gone. They're angry and they're desperate."
Rice served as secretary of state under President George W. Bush and now is a professor at Stanford University. She has clashed with Trump in the past. In a Facebook post earlier this month, Rice wrote that Trump should not be president and called on him to withdraw.
Taking questions after her prepared remarks, Rice criticized activists who took it for granted that stronger candidates would be nominated. "You can't sit out for two years ... and then be surprised by the results," she said.
"Sometimes democracy throws us funny outcomes," Rice added. "I hope that everybody will vote, however they wish to do so, because we're going to have to get through this election and get past it."
Rice tied the turmoil in America to the larger breakdown of world powers and the institutions set up following World War II. Crisis issues in China, the Middle East and the European Union are part of the same thread, she explained.
She called on American exceptionalism to restore world order, and was sharply critical of budget cuts to the U.S. military. Threats such as North Korea are very real, Rice said, calling dictator Kim Jong-un "a little bit crazy."
Everyday Americans are feeling let down by an economy that used to pull regular workers ahead, Rice said. Now those well-paying jobs of old are $9-an-hour service jobs. As a result, many Americans "want to hear that it's somebody else's fault," Rice said, citing immigrants and big banks as two targets.
"It's growing across this world, this sense that the global elite have left them behind," she added.
A popular figure throughout her public life, Rice delighted the crowd by weaving several personal anecdotes into her talk. She told the story of her grandfather, the first family member to go to college. After saving up the money to get through his first year, the elder Rice asked how he could get a scholarship to continue with year two. He was told the scholarship students at his school were all studying to be Presbyterian ministers.
"Granddaddy Rice said 'That is exactly what I had in mind,'" Rice said to laughter. "And the Rices have been Presbyterian and college educated ever since."
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Editor John Hilton has covered business and other beats in more than 20 years of daily journalism. John may be reached at [email protected].
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