WASHINGTON, D.C. (Media General) – Americans expect to hear from historians when talking about past presidential campaigns, but some now want to comment on the current election.
PBS Filmmaker Ken Burns, along with award-winning historian David McCullough, did what anyone wanting to share their opinion does today – started posting toFacebook. They created, ‘Historians on Donald Trump,” which allows top historians from across the United States to offer their perspective on our current election.
The page’s short description reads, “Historians share their perspectives on why Donald Trump’s campaign is so troubling.” So, it’s no surprise most of these historians speak on the dangers they see in Trump’s possible election.
Some use the platform to offer perspective, and highlight that Donald Trump is not an entirely original figure.
“Does he know that the words America First also have a past?” Pulitzer Prize-winning author Stacy Schiff asked in one of the videos. “That the slogan was used by isolationists [to] lobby against our entry into World War II in 1940?”
“I’m not cynical enough to believe that he means to align himself with Nazi sympathizers and that he intended that echo,” she said.
Others, including David McCullough, bluntly advocate for the American people to reconsider Trump’s candidacy.
“He’s unwise, he’s plainly unprepared, unqualified and often times seems unhinged.” McCullough said in his own video. “How could we possibly put our future in the hands of such a man?”
A regular mention in the videos is the commonality between Trump’s campaign and an anti-immigration party during the 1850s called the American Party, or unofficially, the Know-Nothings. They grew to prominence after German immigrants began settling in the Midwest and the Irish showed up in large numbers on the East Coast.
Kai Bird, also a Pulitzer Price-winning author, refers to the Republican nominee’s campaign as, “the Know-Nothing candidacy of real estate huckster Donald Trump.”
Bird uses his video to focus on the old adage, ‘history repeats itself.’
“First as tragedy, then as farce,” Bird said. In Bird’s argument, Trump is the farce and Sen. Joe McCarthy’s 1950s hunt for communist sympathizers is the tragedy.
“Yes the Donald is farce. He has no facts. No understanding. No philosophy,” Bird claims. “Because Mr. Trump is so clearly a clown, some people may conclude that he’s essentially harmless.”
“But farce can also be dangerous,” Bird warns. “Farce can also be national disaster.”
“Don’t let history repeat itself. Even, as farce.”