History Professor Jennifer Evans has written a piece in The Conversation that looks at the long-term effects of the Trump presidency, despite his loss to President-Elect Joe Biden. A short excerpt is included below with the full article, “Trump lost, but racism is alive and infused in U.S. history,” available online.
The United States presidential election was a great spectacle. It was also a battle over the nation’s history and its future.
As historians will tell you, how we characterize the past has direct bearing on how we imagine possible futures. What is the vision for a post-Trump America?
In both the lead-up to Nov. 3 and its aftermath, history loomed large. More than 200 scholars of authoritarianism, fascism and populism signed an Open Letter of Concern about the imminent threat to democratic processes and institutions, drawing on histories of past regimes that have curtailed democratic rights and freedoms in moments of instability and unrest.
Fascism historians Ruth Ben-Ghiat and Federico Finchelstein warned that Donald Trump’s narcissism is more than just a character flaw; it is a clarion call to build an authoritarian state. Even in defeat, they argued, strongmen and their followers often continue to undermine institutions — just as Trump appears to be doing following the election with his refusal to accept the results. The answer? See through the rhetoric, exercise caution and remain vigilant.