As much of the country begins to come to terms with Donald Trump’s upset victory in the 2016 presidential election fear and fatalistic rhetoric have taken root in the public dialogue. Trump’s brand of racism, authoritarianism and unfettered capitalism is something that is, thankfully, without parallel in the current mainstream political dialogue in the United States.
The current political moment, however, is not without precedent.
In 1920 Republican Warren G. Harding was elected the 29th President of the United States. In the years leading up to his election the country had been worked into a nationalist, racist fervor. In the aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and in the face of a growing anti-capitalist movement in the US, Congress passed the Immigration Act, the Espionage Act and the Sedition Act to undermine and outlaw subversive organizing. Attorney General Mitchell Palmer was rounding up radicals in the Palmer Raids aimed at breaking up left wing resistance in the United States. Fueled by the success of the 1915 film “Birth of a Nation” the Ku Klux Klan was growing at a rapid pace and had built a national reach.
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