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Clio's Temple

Swimming in history, or drowning?

Mark Twain once said, "History doesn't repeat, but it rhymes." Looking at the shape of American politics this year, I think he was onto something important. Namely, that the hopes (fears) with which we invest our candidates are cyclical, except that we often don't recognize what's happening.

What do I mean? Just this: there is very little about Donald Trump that's surprising. Anyone who looks at the less-than-golden past of our elections can pick up echoes of things Huey Long might have said, or Father Coughlin, or George Wallace. By contrast to this strain of "populism," Ross Perot looks positively quaint.

This is not to let Hillary Clinton off the hook. The strength of her appeal is, I think, that we can replay the economic glories of the '90s, but extend their reach to segments of the American population who have traditionally been left out. She's already hinted that her First Dude will take on that challenge as part of his responsibilities.

Now seriously, folks, are we that stupid? Do we really think our leaders have the alchemy to override the powerful counter-currents which are part of our world: international economic queasiness; fears of terrorism; distrust among nations who have traditionally acted as though they had interests in common?

We'd better fasten our seat belts and hang on for a rough ride. To my jaundiced eyes, 2016 looks more like 1968 than anything that's happened since.

1 Comment to Swimming in history, or drowning?:

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essay for students on Monday, March 06, 2017 9:23 AM
As being looking inside the range of historical context at current-events, and a fan of context, I applaud your essay. I don't trust all you wrote, plus one of the key explanations why is really because I had been waiting for you to address the elephant inside the bedroom, particularly, ISIS, and the huge circumstance of refugees and general chaos in the Centre East, and the way this major aspect of current affairs must do with all that you just wrote. Allows all be truthful, a large a part of Brexit has experiencing that their land has been overwhelmed by immigrants, and to do with refugees. Tack about the nearly regular terrorist strikes in Europe, which is obvious the hysteria being caused this by all. All of this to convey not or whether I agreed with your guide, I must say I regard the way you put everything into context, but I simply wish you'd addressed this dilemma with the rest. They are attached. Thus, how can to everything you wrote inside your essay THIS facet of current affairs connect?
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