Local radio magnate H. Randolph Holder used to remind us every morning on WGAU, back when that station was still locally owned (by him), that “the news depends on you.”
Thus, local philanthropic magnate Grady Thrasher, who no doubt remembers Randolph from his high school years here, recently called attention to an opinion piece in the Irish Times, of all places, that greatly enhances our ability to understand Trump and Trumpism. I pass along to Flagpole readers this Dec. 26 editorial by Fintan O’Toole, entitled, “Trump has unfinished business. A republic he wants to destroy still stands.” Below is a concluding excerpt. The whole piece can be read at irishtimes.com, though you may need to search for it by the time you read this:
“The price of this form of power is the undermining of any form of democratic deliberation. Democracy is not just about voting—it is a system for the rational articulation of ideas about the public good. Trump set out to lay waste to that whole system, from the bottom up, poisoning the groundwaters of respect for evidence, argument and rationality that keeps it alive.
“The power of his instinct was that he knew how to tap into a hatred of government that has been barely below the surface of American culture since before the foundation of the U.S.
“That instinct proved sufficiently well attuned that he got nearly 75 million votes in November, even while his malign incompetence was killing his own people. He got those votes, moreover, having made it abundantly clear that he would never accept the result of the election unless he won. They were votes for open autocracy.
“This is his legacy: He has successfully led a vast number of voters along the path from hatred of government to contempt for rational deliberation to the inevitable endpoint: disdain for the electoral process itself.
“In this end is his new beginning. Stripped of direct power, he will face enormous legal and financial jeopardy. He will have every reason to keep drawing on his greatest asset: his ability to unleash the demons that have always haunted the American experiment—racism, nativism, fear of ‘the government.’
“Trump has unfinished business. A republic he wants to destroy still stands. It is, for him, not goodbye but hasta la vista. Instead of waving him off, those who want to rebuild American democracy will have to put a stake through his heart.”
Boston College historian Heather Cox Richardson, in the Dec. 30 edition of her blog, Letters From an American (heathercoxrichardson.substack.com), provides historical context. She basically chronicles what has happened to our country since the Great Depression, showing that it all goes much further back than Trump and will still be around after he’s gone. This edition is very much worth your attention and will no doubt encourage you to make daily reading of Richardson a habit.
Here’s her summary to her latest post:
“And in this moment, we have, disastrously, discovered the final answer to whether or not it is a good idea to destroy the activist government that has protected us since 1933. In their zeal for reducing government, the Trump team undercut our ability to respond to a pandemic and tried to deal with the deadly coronavirus through private enterprise or by ignoring it and calling for people to go back to work in service to the economy, willing to accept huge numbers of dead. They have carried individualism to an extreme, insisting that simple public health measures designed to save lives infringe on their liberty.
“The result has been what is on track to be the greatest catastrophe in American history, with more than 338,000 of us dead and the disease continuing to spread like wildfire. It is for this that the Trump administration will be remembered, but it is more than that. It is a fitting end to the attempt to destroy our government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”
Also a good habit to form is the California attorney Robert Hubbell’s newsletter, Today’s Edition. Hubbell writes from an ardent liberal position, but he is no closed-minded ideologue. Amid the last four years’ political chaos, he has steadily tried to remain positive and to keep our eyes on what needs to be done for us to survive and prevail. He’s well worth your attention (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The same can be said for Charlie Hayslett, an Atlanta transplant to Oconee County whose occasional blog Trouble in God’s Country keeps an eye on Georgia health, education, economics and politics.
And, finally, Flagpole readers need no reminder, but here’s one anyway: All politics is local, so start here and let our panoply of local contributors bring you insight while our seasoned City Editor Blake Aued keeps you up-to-date on local government and politics.
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