It is by now a commonplace on the right to argue that Barack Obama’s presidency is the root cause of the Trump phenomenon. In his latest column for USA Today, Jonah Goldberg rounds up the main arguments—that Obama “lowered the bar” for the presidency, that he created a “more tribalist” America, that he flouted the rule of law—but goes further. He links Obama’s actions (and hence Trump’s rise) to a long liberal legacy that extends back to Roosevelt, who, among many other things, packed the Supreme Court and interned Japanese-Americans during World War II.
Trump has already spoken fondly of Roosevelt’s internment of Japanese Americans (which was constitutional according to the court at the time. Eight of the nine justices had been appointed by FDR. The one Republican appointee was among three dissenters.) It seems a sure bet that a President Trump would follow FDR’s—and Obama’s—example in doing whatever he could get away with.
Goldberg is the author of a book called Liberal Fascism, so perhaps this kind of analysis is to be expected. But it goes to show that the conservative narrative about Trump can not only ignore the appeal to Republican voters of his xenophobia and authoritarian streak, as Jeet Heer writes today, but also plant them squarely in the liberal tradition.