These Are the Bad Times
One response to all this is to say that these bad things have always been with us, that Trump is the inheritor of historically racist institutions, unchecked nihilist capitalism, a monstrous military-industrial complex, and a political system bent to serve the greed of plutocrats.
None of this is incorrect. And unquestionably it’s true that he is a figurehead for a party and a movement that were around long before his political career began, and that they rally beside him and go along with him because he’s going where they’ve always meant to go.
But that is why it is so important to recognize, at the same time, that he and they are moving. Getting the same things, but more of them, does not mean getting more of the same. It is worse now than it was last year, and last year was worse than the year before.
It doesn’t have to be new to be disastrous. The idea of American history as an uneven forward march toward greater democracy, despite occasional setbacks and errors, is flatly untrue. Immediately after the Civil War, black men were granted suffrage and were able to hold office, in a multiracial democracy. A successful campaign of terror, permitted by a compliant national government and supported by intellectuals, stripped the freed people of their rights and kept them in subjugation for most of the following century. The country went backwards, savagely and enthusiastically, and stayed there for generations.
The Fourteenth Amendment was a set of words on paper, with no power to protect people’s rights or their lives against the racist laws and policies that had been put into effect. The results were so brutal and effective that by the 1930s, the Nazis were studying them as an example of where a country might be able to go.
Please read all of this excellent essay.