I continue to maintain that the problem with this nation is not Trump, it’s that Trump is the id of a huge swath of Americans who love what he does and how he acts. It’s really surprising that the only past president who really resembles Trump is Andrew Jackson. I would expect more and certainly do in the future, even if I hope I am wrong. In any case, it’s not as if racism and misogyny and ignorance are qualities disdained by most Americans, or white Americans in any case. They are pretty central to how Americans have always acted.
I am frequently reminded of these points lately and they very much influence my understanding of the American past. Such as discovering that after Jeannette Rankin won the Montana House seat in 1916 to become the first woman to ever serve in Congress, the man she defeated in the Republican primary, Eldon Crull, proceeded to kill himself because he was so ashamed he lost to her. And while the evidence is very slim as to how much Crull’s suicide came from losing at all versus losing to a woman, it’s a very American male thing to have your masculinity crushed by losing to a woman. That’s a value that our president holds very dear to whatever heart he has.