Sunday, June 11, 2017

Julian Zelizer

Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, and the author, most recently, of The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society. From his Q&A with Morton Keller for The Atlantic:

Keller:...[I] continue to take exception to your tendency to see our politics today as a confrontation between a generally reasonable Democratic-left and an out-of-control Republican right. To criticize the tone of the over-the-top “resistance” to Trump is not to ignore his manifest defects. Those defects do not justify the increasingly obscene, out-of-control quality of that criticism, however complicit he was in injecting those strains into our political discourse.

The closest comparison in my historian's recollection was the ugly, obscene innuendo that the unreconstructed right applied to FDR in the 1930s. Before some of our more excitable knee-jerk readers accuse me of equating FDR and Trump, I assure them that I have no such intent in mind.

My point is this: I foresee no upgrading of our current degraded political dialogue until both sides pull back, which I don't expect to happen until one or the other of them concludes that it costs them more than it gains. The reaction to the Kathy Griffin photograph is encouraging; the success of the more scurrilous late-night talk show hosts, and Trump's continuing unpresidential blogging, is not.

Aside from that, we seem to be in general accord on this matter.

Zelizer: I still think that the alliance between the right and the mainstream of the GOP has become much closer than the left and the Democratic leadership. It's fair to distinguish. Everything is not equivalent. It is difficult to imagine Democrats nominating anyone as far out as Trump. But in the context of the Tea Party generation—Trump made sense.

The opposition to Trump, who ran a campaign that revolved around xenophobia, nativism, Islamophobia, sexism and a real hostility to so many segments of the nation is very different than the opposition to FDR. The current opposition is driven by serious and legitimate concerns about the possibility of wrongdoing in the election and obstruction of justice that are not simply partisan or ideological. Trump is...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue