Listen now | The Roots of Trumpism (Part 5)
Thank you, Professor Reich. We share many memories of the shameful McCarthy Era including viewing the HUAAC hearings on a matchbook-size TV and favouring Stevenson over Ike. It is the ghost of Joe McCarthy and the shade of Roy Cohn that I see leading the full-out FASCIST PUTSCH of today's Republican Party. The history you review on this podcast is essential for today's voters to know. Nothing happens in a political vacuum and McCarthy-ism is the missing context for today's"digital and quantum age voters. PAST IS PROLOGUE - and also Epitaph - if knee-jerk , un-informed "conservative" voters choose ignorance of their own history over the long view that sees in both directions and understands that Fascism eventualy destroys everyone in its path. Trump is ignorant of the very tyranny he thinks he wants to unleash on America because he can only see his own infinitesimal personal context.
Voters who support him will find themselves abandoned by him. But by then, they will have none of the Constitutional protections of Democracy to save them because they will have traded away their Freedom for a set of false promises Trump will never fulfill for the simple reason that, to him, they are all just "useful idiots" - as he himself is to the Corporate Fascists who use him to overthrow Democracy.
Love your Dad Robert!
Being told he wasn’t welcome, his reaction to it is the anthesis of America. He definitely had the qualities I look for in following someone. He had balls! The Apple didn’t fall far from the tree either! Love you too Robert!
For several years, I have understood the far-right to be a group of self-interested, I dare say, fascists out to control the country for their own benefit. The part I hadn’t fully grasped prior to reading and rereading this morning’s newsletter is that the current nightmare scenario that, for me, started with Trump, in 2016, taking over the Republican Party portended a future people had been trying to build for generations. I imagine, then as now, we have to make sure the American people know that the stakes are bigger and far more critical than simply a struggle between left and right. Rather, the concept of government “of, by, and for the people” seemingly safely sheltered in law, isn’t.
Thanks Dr. Reich for sharing your recollection of the McCarthy hearings. My dad had a similar response to McCarthy as did your dad. He never forgave McCarthy for tearing the country apart over a non-issue and was frustrated that "liberals" did not stand up to the schoolyard bully. Clearly courage wasn't prevalent back then just as it isn't common today in the Republican party that is again trying to tear the country apart. When I hear chunks of the McCarthy hearings, I am shocked that the members of the committee interrogating witnesses took so long to call McCarthy out for his appalling behavior and accusations. Roy Cohn was just the kind of critter Donald Trump would be drawn to and whom Cohn would court. They were cut from the same cloth: cheating, lying, and deception as their modus operandi. McCarthy was rather ignorant of so many things and it was clear just listening to him, but our nation just went along. I was so disappointed when in history class, I learned that Truman even bowed to the insanity. McCarthy got a lot of ordinary citizens on his side thinking there were Communists around every corner. I don't get it. It seems they preferred McCarthy's fascism, which they had so recently fought, to Communism (which they knew nothing substantial about). I suspect it is that same level of ignorance of reality that draws ordinary citizens in the millions to Trump, a man well-trained by Cohn and others as a bully. We all need to find ways to stop our current racist, misogynistic, homophobic bully before he does any more damage than he has already done.
Thank you for this lesson. The roots of Trumpism are older and more nefarious than I had realized. Nixon, Stone, Cohn, Murdoch, and Trump are part of a cadre of subversives out for money and power at any cost. Their wealth has shielded them from the law. Maybe if TFG is finally indicted their corrupting grip on power will finally be loosed.
Perhaps, following your late father, you have the makings of a book about all these people entitled SOBS. It might do good by encouraging Americans to follow integrity and ideals (such as they might already have been taught in school) instead of people like this.
And so began the close relationship of the mafia and Donald Trump.
Great history that I can vouch for, from Eisenhower to McCarthyism, Edgar Hoover and for sure Nixon (first President I voted for was John Kennedy). Young as I was back then I could decipher the good from the evil. What’s really surprising is how far back the corruption (or take over of America) has been going on. It’s interesting that you mention Ayn Rand whose “Fountainhead” (Paul Ryan made his people read it) was published. I doubt many Americans are aware of her history, her perspective and that her heroes were based on a real live murderer. The real kicker with her is how the Republicans, more than ever, think as she did - everything for oneself regardless of the consequences to others. This being displayed more than ever today by those following Trump. Trump, what the Republicans have waited for, for sometime now. Trump, the Antichrist!
Such a fascinating personal story and shameful history. It breaks my heart that the peace and serenity of this country is destroyed by people like McCarthy and Cohn and Stone and Bannon and Trump etc. They are all bullies without a shred of integrity.
It astounds me that people like them gain such power and amass supporters. What makes someone support and respect a bully?
It seems like those of us kind, compassionate, honest, open-minded pragmatists could and should stand up sooner to people like this before they get a foothold and stir up such unnecessary hate and chaos and vitriol.
I wonder why we don’t... why are we letting the mass of modern-day Mccarthy’s win elections today? Why aren’t we standing up as the majority that we are and saying “enough”?
I hope we do in the midterms. We have to - otherwise, we are in for an era much darker than McCarthyism....
Thanks for this educational, thoughtful piece...
What a fascinating read Mr Reich. If your father were alive today I do wonder what he would have to say about what has become of America.
Laurie. I do remember being told in "good company" you weren't supposed to discuss religion or politics. That was a problem for me because they along with history were and are my favorite topics. I broke that rule regularly as did my dad and a couple of my sisters. I do know too as you describe, that fear was real and being blacklisted was no joke. The atmosphere made it possible for anyone who didn't like their neighbor due to race, religion, or any other reason, could report them as Communists and sometimes, it stuck and people were threatened. People who bowed to McCarthy never even considered that his and their behavior was totally against what America was supposed to stand for. The Trumpers and Trumpettes now are doing the same thing, think about what they are doing, as little as possible.
I continue to noodle on how come Americans accepted the rabid vitriol of people like McCarthy and Bilbo and Nixon. At what point did Americans turn off their critical thinking and fail to turn away in disgust from these slavering fomenters?
Nice to hear a first hand account of McCarthyism. Shocking but accurate to see the parallels between that time and our current politics. The best defense against gaslighting is education. I hope Democrats can protect K-12 public education from privatization. And find a way to reduce the cost of college tuition. Great article!
I support the principles of Progressive Democracy articulated by Prof Reich and Senator Bernie Sanders.
I am 83 and remember it all yet we are at this juncture again. Trump is not the main issue, his followers are. He just taps into a reservoir of left overs from the junkyard of our history. we need a new USA.
Yes! Thank you for recounting this very history. Yes, this very shameful McCarthy Era and the tie to Trumpism. Yes. And post again and again until all who are able can “hear“ it. The evaporation of Trump and the “falling dominoes“ are awaited with bated breath. Yes.