Secretary of State John Kerry vowed to play a significant role in what he expects will be “one hell of a debate” about the country in the next few years.
“I will not go quietly into the night,” Kerry told the Women’s Foreign Policy Group during a speech on Tuesday.
Kerry avoided mentioning Clinton or President-elect Trump by name, but made clear he lamented the Democratic nominee’s defeat “bitterly” while urging the audience to remain engaged in political fights during the Trump presidency.
“The State Department’s glass ceiling has been removed,” he said. “Others have not, as we bitterly know. But, it’s up to us still to ensure that it doesn’t come back, because nothing is certain.”
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Kerry’s regret about Clinton’s loss, and his misgivings about Trump, came through moments later as he joked about the 21st anniversary of the Women’s Foreign Policy Group.
“As an organization, you are now old enough officially to drink, and at least some of you are probably saying to yourselves it couldn’t have happened at a better time,” he said. “I suspect that that is true whether your loyalties are with the party going into the White House or the one heading out.”
Beyond the “glass ceiling” issue, Kerry took aim at the hostility to trade agreements that propelled Trump to victory. He conceded that many Americans “see their lives as vitally disrupted and even as filled with fear,” but argued that trade deals had not caused that uncertainty.
“Eighty-five percent of job loss in the United States is due to technology, not trade,” Kerry said. “So we’re running around hearing people battle a dragon called trade when, in fact, it’s not the fundamental problem …
“You tell me how the economy of the United States is going to grow, if 95 percent of the world’s customers live in another country, but we’re going to start knee-jerkingly just closing off some of that because we’re blaming other people for things that people are unwilling to address more directly and more honestly.”
Kerry argued that a more honest economic debate would focus on the U.S. economic system.
“It’s the structure that we have underneath the trade that doesn’t provide the social safety network to provide the education, the ongoing education, the job training skills, the Social Security, the wages that people deserve for the work that they’re doing that is delivering more and more to the top 1 percent,” he said. “That inequity is at the bottom of this, not the fact that we trade.”