It is now clear that we have in our midst a true demagogue—a person who appeals to the insecurity and disillusionment of many Americans about the direction of their nation in domestic and foreign policy.
We have had this before, and it always ends in disaster and loss of reputation, without accomplishing anything beneficial in the short run or the long run.
We had Senator Huey Long of Louisiana in the early 1930s, who gained a following of millions, talked about “Every Man A King” in the midst of the Great Depression. He ended up being assassinated in 1935 while seeking the Presidency. This is covered in Chapter 7 of my forthcoming book, “Assassinations, Threats, and the American Presidency: From Andrew Jackson to Barack Obama”, from Rowman Littlefield, to be published and available on August 15.
We had Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin in the early 1950s, when there was the ongoing Cold War with the Soviet Union, exploited as an issue, causing the destruction of the lives and reputations of millions of Americans without any justification. It ended up with the collapse and repudiation of the Red Scare, and the early death of McCarthy from alcoholism.
We had Governor George Wallace of Alabama, who divided the nation over racial integration and civil rights, and won five states in the Electoral College in the Presidential Election of 1968, and then was shot and paralyzed for life during the Presidential Election campaign of 1972. This tragedy, ironically, led to a reformed Wallace who changed his view on civil rights as a result of his own handicapped condition as a result of the assassination attempt. I cover this in Chapter 11 of my forthcoming book on August 15, which I have listed the title and publisher two paragraphs above this one.
Now we have Donald Trump, who is promoting racism and nativism, and since he is super wealthy, his ability to influence the public view is, in many ways, more dangerous than any of the above demagogues.
Just as with the others, Trump will fail in the long run, but will be very dangerous in the short run. Let us hope that his demise will not be brought about in the fashion that occurred for Huey Long and George Wallace! We wish him good health and long life, but want him out of the political fray, because he has nothing positive to offer America, just negativism and division!