I’ve been covering politics for a
long time. I think about that long time often these days, because it really
does feel like we’re at a historical moment where next November, this country
is going to choose, perhaps irreversibly, one path or another.
I was just starting out in journalism in the later days of the Reagan era. My God, I used to think, how right-wing some of these people are! And—I was right! A lot of them were. Oliver North, remember him? He was a real forerunner of the current crew—he knowingly violated the law to funnel military aid to right-wing rebels in Nicaragua because he decided his cause was greater than the law (“I believe you knew this was morally wrong,” his judge told him at sentencing).
Then came George H.W. Bush. He was a step back from the brink. But while he was president, the new right was gaining a head of steam in Congress. Then came the Clinton era, which brought the rise in earnest of the right-wing media: Rush Limbaugh became a huge celebrity; Fox News was launched. Drip, drip, drip. Then George W. Bush and his retinue, lying us into a war, torturing people. But actually, the first thing that happened in this country that felt a little like fascism was the Terry Schiavo episode. You had to be there, I guess, but there was a combination of anti-fact assertion, the use of religious zeal, and contempt for science that all carried a strong late-Weimar whiff, to my nose.
Well. It all seems so quaint now. How did we get here? This is among the questions I’m going to ask the excellent panel of historians that I’m moderating at TNR’s Stop Trump Summit on Wednesday at the Cooper Union. Ruth Ben-Ghiat of NYU, Nell Irvin Painter of Princeton, and David Greenberg of Columbia have all published many scholarly works on American and/or world history. I wanted to moderate this panel myself because I’ve been thinking about this history and these questions so much lately.
This event is going to be big. We have an impressive range of speakers and panelists who either are working hard to do what the title of the event says—stop Trump—or have particular expertise to lend to the proceedings. Mary Trump, Jamie Raskin, Stuart Stevens, Al Sharpton, Randi Weingarten, and so many more. Panels will cover the legal cases against Trump, the Fourteenth Amendment option, the role of the media in the election, the No Labels effort, and more.
We’ve sold a lot of tickets, but it’s a big hall, and seats remain. And the number of livestream RSVPs has been phenomenal. Clearly, many people want to be part of this effort. So join us. If you’re in New York, please come in person. If not, join the livestream. Sign up here (click on Get tickets).