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‘Crazy in every sense’: Historians rate ‘traumatic’ Trump’s first year

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Most everyone agrees 2017 has been a crazy year, but historians say it doesn’t quite compare to some of the most tumultuous years in American history.

Politico asked some of the top U.S. historians to put this past year into context, and they generally agreed it didn’t match the horrors of the Civil War and years scarred by assassinations, widespread race riots and lynchings, or titanic terror attacks.

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“Several other first years have been crazier, if that means surprisingly eventful,” said H.W. Brands, a professor of history and government at the University of Texas. “In Lincoln’s first year the Union fell apart and the North and South went to war. In FDR’s first year the welfare state was born. In George H. W. Bush’s first year the Soviet empire started to crumble. In George W. Bush’s first year, the 9/11 attacks introduced America to global terrorism.”

“(President Donald) Trump’s first year is a yawner by comparison,” Brands added, “except that he won’t shut up and let us snooze.”

The Civil War years rated highly among historians, but one cited 1919 — when white mobs attacked black Americans in “Old-World-style pogroms” across the nation as President Woodrow Wilson faded away after a series of strokes.

“This past year, 2017, has looked more like 1919 than most Americans would like,” Adriane Lentz-Smith, a professor of history at Duke University. “White supremacy is again in fashion in the Executive Branch, and the president shows little interest in protecting the nation’s most vulnerable citizens. This is disheartening but not unprecedented. Yet, when we tell ourselves that things have been worse, we must also remind ourselves that we once made them better. We can — we must — do so again.”

One historian conceded other years had been far more momentous in U.S. history, but he said 2017 had no contenders “in the realm of craziness.”

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“Why is that the case?” said Jack Rackove, professor of history and political science at Stanford University. “One could argue, for example, that the new Republican mode of lawmaking, which involves drafting legislation behind closed doors, with no serious discussion, to fuel some madcap rush to get a vote, represents a crazed alternative to the Madisonian model of serious prolonged deliberation. Or one could hold that it is a crazed model of governance to experience one traumatic weather emergency after another, yet turn our institutions of environmental regulation over to a crowd of climate change deniers and big business chumps.”

Rackove said the uncertainty about Trump’s mental state, his admiration for Russian president Vladimir Putin and his apparent preference for watching TV instead of executing government responsibilities were also highly unusual.

“No worse joke has been played on the American people than the very fact that tens of thousands of eighth-graders have a far better grasp of the Constitution than Donald Trump, even though he swore a sacred oath to ‘preserve, protect, and defend’ it on Jan. 20, before the record crowds he deluded himself to see assembled before him,” Rackove said. “That’s not just political craziness; it’s truly meshugah in every sense of the term. Just try to imagine a conversation with Jefferson, Madison, either Adams, or Abraham Lincoln — strong constitutionalists all — on one side of the table, and the current chief executive on the other. That would be crazy, too!”

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2020 Election

Desperate and ‘out-of-control’ Trump might prompt violent insurrection to stay in office: columnist

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Writing for the Daily Beast, columnist Michael Tomasky made a strong case that Donald Trump has removed any doubt that he is "morally unfit" to be president and, faced with the possibility he may not be re-elected, could resort to encouraging his followers to take up arms in his defense.

"Naively, I always thought that even Donald Trump would stop short of actually inciting violence. I mean, he’s the president of the United States," Tomasky began before adding, "History means nothing to him, and the future means even less. Presidents—all presidents, even ones I didn’t like—think about the office, the future implications of their actions, the future of our institutions."

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Protests around the world: This time it’s different

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A profound, historical difference separates the protests across America the past six days from past eruptions of anger over police violence against black men and women. It’s a difference that isn’t showing up news reports, televised or print even though it’s quite apparent.

The differences are where these demonstrations are taking place and who is protesting,

In Los Angeles, the demonstrators were not in the poor and historically black neighborhood known as Watts, but in Beverly Hills and the city’s prosperous West Side. Many of those demonstrating were white. In some places a majority were white.

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COVID-19 cases skyrocket among younger Americans as states reopen

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The coronavirus is tearing into a new demographic as states relax social distancing guidelines.

Younger Americans have gone back to work in the service industry and congregating in public, and their activity seems to be bearing out ominous predictions from public health experts, reported The Daily Beast.

“Watch what’s happening before and after the peak,” said epidemiologist Dr. Judith Malmgren, of the University of Washington’s school of public health. “The disease didn’t change, but the people who were infected changed.”

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