Tag Archive for republicanism

Trump the Small-‘r’ Republican?

Who wore it best?

Who wore it best?

As Frank Rich pointed out in his recent meditation on the political phenomenon of Trump, political observers and pundits have struggled to identify historical precedents.  The most popular, according to Rich, have ranged “from the third-party run of the cranky billionaire Ross Perot back to Huey Long and Father Charles Coughlin, the radio-savvy populist demagogues of the Great Depression.”  He also fingers Joseph McCarthy, Hugo Chávez, George Wallace, and his favorite, the fictional, comedic “unhinged charlatans” of Mark Twain.  For Rich, Trump is the real-life embodiment of the fictional political con-men of American cinema, characters who though their sheer outrageousness call into question the legitimacy and sanity of the political system as a whole.  Rich foresees some potentially salubrious effects of Trump’s brazen act of real-life political satire, because his performance will lay bare precisely how naked the emperor really is, thus necessitating reform.  I think that’s exuberantly optimistic, to the point of naiveté, although he gets points from me for trying to find a silver lining the dark cloud of Trumpism.  But I’d like to suggest another older and more jarring precedent for Trump: the “Founding Fathers” themselves.

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