TRUMP IN HISTORY BOOKS – TWO POINTS OF VIEW: Jeffry Bloodworth | Looking to History to Define Trump’s Legacy | Editorials


President Donald Trump left the White House with a clear and early verdict on his presidency: a devastating 29% approval rating.

The fall in popularity and the January 6 uprising allowed the general public, experts and the press to denounce the president as he left office.

Although journalists often write the first draft of the story, their collective wisdom rarely endures.

Mocked as a corrupt and overwhelmed bum, Harry Truman’s approval ratings were mired at 32% when he stepped down. A generation later, historians reconsidered conventional wisdom and made Truman a national folk hero.

There is no reverse Newtonian brass law governing presidential reputations. What goes down does not necessarily go up; nonetheless, Trump’s historic legacy is anything but cemented.

But as a revisionist historian by trade, Trump’s historical outlook does not seem bright to me. Struggling with the lowest average approval rating of any president in modern poll history, a global pandemic and the January 6 insurgency that he stoked with his four-year rhetoric, he left his post. functions with levels of Nixonian contempt. And while professional historians constantly reassess the legacy of administrations, Trump’s legacy will be remembered as an ideological turning point for the American right, albeit a dangerous one.

In 2016, candidate Trump looked more like a Republican candidate of the past than many of his other running mates. His opposition to free trade, immigration, and foreign interventionism seemed like conservative apostasies that he used to woo conservative primary voters.

Barely conservative heresy, Trump’s themes were a throwback to pre-New Deal Republican ideals, which praised nativists, protectionists and non-interventionists before the Depression and WWII.

But it was also the Depression and World War II that torpedoed conservatism’s long peace with statism and globalism – the Republicans who followed, including Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon and George HW Bush, all accepted the nets of federal financial security and commitments to multilateral institutions.

But Trumpism has always been a style more populist than political substance compared to recent Republican presidents. Similar to his populist ancestor Andrew Jackson who was elected to the White House in 1839, the president’s lasting historical imprint will also be found in the culture at large. Nicknamed “The Hero” by worshiping crowds, Jackson inspired a cultural transformation that overturned elite standards in favor of crass martial standards more suited to a young upstart nation. Frightening the beejesus of the nation’s elites, Jackson’s presidency, which featured Senate censorship, is now popular with presidential historians.

An unlikely Jacksonian follower, Trump forged a similar populist cultural avenue. His use of Twitter and new media skillfully bypassed the guardian elites. Inspiring his supporters to consume the facts they have chosen and to create an individualized objective reality based on these “truths”, the president was the author of a decisive cultural turning point. A populist revolt against the Hollywood titans and the elites of Wall Street and K Street, the president has made it chic and acceptable for a large chunk of voters to live and vote shamelessly on Kellyanne Conway’s “alternative facts”.

While history shows us that the populist upheavals against the Guardians are undoubtedly democratic and deeply American, if this had been the sum of Trump’s movement, historians would write a very different, if not heroic, tale. Unfortunately, without principle beyond personal enrichment and aggrandizement, Trump’s revolt knew no moral bounds.

The president’s enduring historical legacy will not be a double-edged yin-and-yang sword. Yes, it inspired a populist backlash against the elites and conventional wisdom that deserved to be reconsidered.

But Trump’s move was a nihilist revolt with no moral content or democratic purpose. A populist movement whose only end is rebellion, Trumpism will be forever defined by the insurrection of January 6.

In particular, Jacob Chansely, the shaman QAnon, will symbolize the moral vacuum of the Trump presidency.

Wearing horns, a coyote tail fur headdress and face paint, Chansley assaulted the “people’s house” and sought to overturn an election based on a deranged conspiracy theory. Millions of Americans have followed the president into this abyss. And now, an attack on truth, democracy and fellow Americans will be the lasting legacy of this president.

Jeffry Bloodworth is Security Specialist at the Truman National Security Project. He wrote this for


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