NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden made a rare public appearance in November 2016 on an online livestream. When asked what he thought about the election of President Trump, his first reaction wasn’t to offer his condolences on the election results, rather he offered some needed perspective.
“There is no one better than Edward Snowden to comment on how recent world developments like the US election will affect consumer privacy,” said StartPage CEO Robert Beens in a statement announcing Thursday’s talk.
It became clear Snowden had no intentions of using this time to criticize Trump, instead he made a larger point about what the presidency means. First, he pointed to the Obama administration, reminding us that the promises Barak Obama made to close Guantanamo, the secret prison in Cuba, and end mass surveillance.
“We believed that because the right person got into office, everything would change,” he said. It didn’t, in regard to these issues. Guantanamo remains open and he embraced and extended the powers of mass surveillance in America.
His intention was not meant to criticize President Obama, but to offer some needed perspective.
“We should be cautious about putting too much faith or fear into elected officials,” said Snowden. “At the end of the day, this is just a president.”
As citizens, we have immense power to change the world we live in. “Politicians do not simply do what they think is best, they do what people think they want to hear, they do what they think will gain them support. Ultimately, if we want to see a change, we must force it through ourselves.
“If we want a better world, we can’t hope for an Obama and we should not fear a Donald Trump, rather we should build it ourselves.”
Watch the full interview here.