A historian's comments on current events, foreign and domestic.
ProfessorGreat short essay. Certainly this is an odd time in American politics, from what little I know of it.Imagine someone like Trump being able to do something, a kind of thing, FDR could not?Presidential power of this magnitude has been so rare as to be almost nonexistent, and for very definite and planned structural reasons.AS I mentioned on my blog, FDR certainly bent constitutional law to try to pack the Court, and to do other things equally constitutionally questionable, I am sure.With Trump, as you note, one is certainly reminded of a mass movement, such I would note, as Hitler's, developed also within the political system, but also very importantly, as with Trump's, outside it, at the same time.I come back also to Lincoln, as well, and to the engineered break up of the Whig Party, by a combination of abolitionist Whigs and Democrats, as I recall, to form the frankly but quietly abolitionist Republican Party, out of which he eventually emerged as President. Douglas described its genesis well, in the Lincoln Douglas Debates. There may well be those who say those are lies, campaign rhetoric muck. Well, I don't think so at all.all the best
Professor:The Cyclops among the Greeks in his cave...
ProfessorI would also note that the spoils system itself, also a kind of purge, functioning year in year out, relentlessly, has been enormously more corrosive for our already systematically hobbled republic than the relatively rare Presidential purges now under discussion.Term limits themselves, yet another kind of purge, are also bad and promote amateurism, but they are opposed by bad and corrupt party machines which pervert the benefits of longer officeholding anyway!All the best
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