Donald Trump Seemingly Misconstrued Vladimir Putin’s Comments On Western ‘Liberalism’ To Refer To California

After Vladimir Putin criticized liberal democracy, Donald Trump was asked to respond, and his answer was surprising.

Donald Trump speaks at the G20 summit.
Tomohiro Ohsumi / Getty Images

After Vladimir Putin criticized liberal democracy, Donald Trump was asked to respond, and his answer was surprising.

On the same day that Donald Trump appeared completely unaware that school “busing” has been used as a way to racially integrate public schools in the United States, as Newsweek reported, Trump responded to comments by Russian President Vladimir Putin — in which Putin declared western-style liberal democracy “obsolete” — by seeming to have no idea what “western liberalism,” a common term used to describe the political philosophy underlying democracies such as the United States and United Kingdom, actually meant.

According to Think Progress, the political term “liberalism” is not used to describe progressive, welfare-state social policies — as it is often used in the United States — but instead describes a belief in “individual rights, equality before the law, and democracy and consent to be governed, in contrast to a dictatorship.”

But, as reported by The Washington Post, when Trump was asked if he agreed with Putin’s comments deriding “western liberalism,” Trump appeared to believe the term referred to California politics.

“He’s sees what’s going on, I guess,” Trump said of Putin. “If you look at what’s happening in Los Angeles, where it’s so sad to look, and what’s happening in San Francisco and a couple of other cities, which are run by an extraordinary group of liberal people.”

Trump then followed up by saying, “when you look at Los Angeles, when you look at San Francisco… you don’t want it to spread.”

Vladimir Putin takes notes.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (l) said that the western liberalism, which also means ‘freedom,’ is ‘obsolete.’ Kiyoshi Ota / Getty Images

In fact, Putin meant that the openness of western countries toward refugees, migration, and LGBT rights was now, he claimed, rejected by “the overwhelming majority of the population,” as quoted by the BBC.

European Council President Donald Tusk had a more coherent response to Putin’s comments about western liberalism, saying that Putin’s claim that western liberalism was “obsolete” was the same as claiming “that freedoms are obsolete… and that human rights are obsolete.”

Earlier, Trump was asked about the controversy arising out of a confrontation at Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate, when California Senator Kamala Harris attacked former Vice President Joe Biden over his opposition to busing as a means of racial school integration in the 1970s, as The Los Angeles Times reported.

But Trump, quoted via Twitter by Los Angeles Times reporter Eli Stokols, appeared unaware of the controversy over busing, which caused deep and violent divisions in numerous United States cities, including Los Angeles and Boston, in the 1970s.

“It has been something that they’ve done for a long period of time,” Trump said. “There aren’t that many ways of getting people to schools.”

Asked whether he agreed with Harris or Biden on the busing issue, Trump said, “I will tell you in about four weeks.”