The Capitol is a sacred institution. Trump’s supporters violated it last week.

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The January 6th riot at the Capitol. Source: CNN

Trump supporters’ January 6th attack on the United States Capitol was a seminal moment of the current administration. Five people have died, while the rioters caused significant property damage and scarred the psyches of millions of Americans. The day threw into sharp relief all of the lawless, violent, and irreverent tendencies that have characterized the president’s supporters for the past five years.

In many ways, the riot was more powerful than countless other scandals and transgressions committed by the outgoing president. It has led, like nothing else, to a bipartisan call for impeachment and removal. Democrats want to impeach Trump without detailed deliberation or the customary presentation of evidence. They want to ban him from ever running from office again, and some members want to refuse admission to members who supported his insurrection. Big social media platforms have banned Trump with days still left in his presidency. Even conservative media has moved away from the Trump insurrection. …


The 1619 Project makes one famous argument for the nation’s start. It’s not necessarily right.

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George Bancroft, leading 19th century historian. Source: Britannica Kids

With the beginning of 2021, the United States is clearly entering a new and exciting phase in its history. The pandemic that has ravaged the country for this past year is hopefully ending soon with the proliferation of vaccines and the nation’s largest ever vaccination effort. The Trump era is over as well, no matter what Trump’s diehard supporters in Congress say. The nation is poised to experience significant changes in health care, technology, and work. After four years of heartache, stress, and calamity, Americans are interested in moving forward.

Such a time of significant change involves a reckoning of the nation’s understanding of its past. Previous periods of flux have often led to a change in the idea of when the nation began. This question has implications for the educational system, since it helps organize textbooks and classes. But it also has a philosophical element. The beginning of America is not rooted in the geologic or geographic history of the land that later became this country. Instead, it is the beginning of its shared ideas, a common heritage, or the story of different groups of people who are seen as essential to the nation’s history. The importance of each factor is, like most other topics in the historical field, subject to interpretation. …


That’s why he signed the second stimulus bill.

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Donald Trump and Mike Pence, who will certify Trump’s electoral defeat on January 6th. Source: Vanity Fair

Why did Donald Trump fake a veto over the second major stimulus bill?

The move brings to mind several instances of terrible negotiating throughout his presidency. Trump is inherently lazy and uninterested in the complex details of governance. His favorite negotiating tactic is to throw out a preposterous demand at the last minute and bluff his way to victory. This approach is much easier than delving into policy details and understanding every nuance of a particular bill. Sending out a quickly produced Twitter video takes no more than an hour. …


The Democratic Party is exceptional and the best party at the moment. It is also still a political party.

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Nancy Pelosi amid recent stimulus negotiations. Source: Forbes

Democrats and Republicans agreed to a second stimulus package on Sunday evening, one that will provide nearly a trillion dollars to aid a country beset by the worst pandemic in a century. The compromise was only reached after months of hardball tactics and numerous attempts at poison pills. …


None of them has landed yet. That doesn’t mean Republicans won’t keep trying.

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Joe and Dr. Jill Biden at the Democratic National Convention in August. Source: ABC News

Over the weekend, there were new updates in the continuing effort to attach a single negative news story to the incoming Joe Biden administration. There was the announcement that his son, Hunter Biden, was being investigated for tax evasion. Following that story, a curious new angle of attack came from the Wall Street Journal’s op-ed page. Joseph Epstein wrote a piece arguing that Biden’s wife, Dr. Jill Biden, should drop the Dr. from her title because she is not a medical doctor.

The condescending tone of the article, with its rejection of non-medical doctorate holders and its use of the term “kiddo,” drew immediate condemnation. But the Hunter Biden story was similarly laughed off by many. As Jonathan Chait wrote in New York, “the charges against Hunter Biden do not remotely prove what Trump and his minions were claiming before the election… The [accusation in 2019 of impropriety] against Joe Biden remains just as false now as it was before the election.” The reception of these stories shows that while minor, ancillary scandals fueled Fox News and conservative media during the Barack Obama administration, they may have a tougher time working under President Biden. …


Historians have been advising presidents for centuries. They don’t always help.

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Joe Biden (L) and Jon Meacham (R). (Credit: University of Delaware)

The five days between Election Night and the announcement that Joe Biden won the presidency were full of significant news stories. Donald Trump’s attempts to stay in power, along with debates about election results and Biden’s possible cabinet, rightly commanded the majority of news coverage.

But an unsung story from that period was the announcement that presidential historian Jon Meacham had been advising Biden and that he had even written his victory speech. Sure enough, Biden’s Saturday address was infused with references to American values and virtues, key themes running across Meacham’s 12 books.

As chroniclers of the past, historians have wielded tremendous power in shaping each generation’s understanding of the world they’re inheriting. Their works are the primary way we understand the past. But some of them have also attained power of a different sort: as presidential advisors. …


They have a lot to learn from the Tea Party.

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Chuck Schumer earlier this year. Source: The Chicago Tribune

Liberals have been dismayed over the past month ever since it became clear that Democrats would not have a commanding majority in the United States Senate come January. After months of positive news and hints of a landslide, Donald Trump ended up close to Joe Biden in many battleground states and won former battlegrounds like Florida and Ohio handily. As a result, liberals will be unable to pass many of the structural changes they have been clamoring for over the past four years, such as adding new states or reforming the Supreme Court. This disappointment has been directed towards the Democratic Party’s establishment. Many leftists in particular have wondered why the party’s leadership refused to embrace the bold programs and candidates that might have led to control of the Senate.


Franklin became famous for telling the stories of African Americans. His first work showed his potential by uncovering a topic no historian had delved into before.

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John Hope Franklin as a young man. Source: The New York Review of Books

Many of the first books written by mid-century American intellectuals were about one particular individual. The constraints of a biography allowed the then-student to focus their ideas and craft a limited, yet detailed, argument. One of the giants of the American historical profession, John Hope Franklin, eschewed a single person for a larger group for his first book. …


He was hampered by the same tendencies that have defined his presidency.

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Donald Trump at his Election Night speech. Source: CNN

As of this writing, Donald Trump has still refused to concede the 2020 election. He clearly lost that election. It was called by the nation’s major media companies back on November 7, when it became clear that Trump would not overtake Joe Biden’s lead in Pennsylvania. Deciding states will begin to certify their votes next week to make Joe Biden’s victory official. Then, the nation’s election contests should be settled by the “safe harbor” deadline of December 8 before the Electoral College meets on December 14. …


It wasn’t Biden or the coronavirus. Ultimately, it was his horrible conduct in office that proved his undoing.

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Joe Biden’s victory rally. Source: Voice of America

On Saturday, the 2020 presidential election ended. It came down to delayed vote-counting in a handful of states, but once Joe Biden’s lead in Pennsylvania became insurmountable, the TV networks called the race in his favor. The nation erupted in jubilation. Spontaneous celebrations popped up in small and large cities throughout the country. While Donald Trump has not yet conceded the race, his feeble response makes it clear that he, too, knows it is over. He still has legal options and will still give liberals on Twitter heart palpitations for the next two months. …

About

Eric Medlin

I’m a writer interested in the intersections of history, ideas, and politics. I publish every week. www.twitter.com/medlinwrites

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