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Author: Heather Cox Richardson

When treason doth prosper: The daily efforts to transform America into a one-party state

The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol filed a motion on April 22 asking a judge to put an end to the attempts of Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows to stonewall the committee. Meadows has tried to avoid talking to the committee or providing it with documents, using a number of different arguments that essentially try to establish that the U.S. president cannot be held accountable by Congress. The committee’s motion carefully explains why those arguments are wrong. To support their belief that the Congress has the right and responsibility to...

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Replacement Theory: The violent fragility of White men who fear their power will be taken by people of color

An 18-year-old White man murdered 10 people and wounded three others with an AR-15 on May 14. The shooter traveled more than 200 miles to get to a predominantly Black neighborhood, where he put on heavy body armor and live streamed his attack as he gunned down people grocery shopping. Eleven of those he shot were Black. The Buffalo Police Commissioner, Joseph Gramaglia, said, “The evidence that we have uncovered so far makes no mistake that this is an absolute racist hate crime. It will be prosecuted as a hate crime. This is someone who has hate in their...

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Cutthroat individualism, Andrew Carnegie, and lessons for the upcoming midterm elections

In the spring of 1890, Republicans were convinced they would win the upcoming midterm elections. Thanks to their management of the economy, they insisted, the United States was on its way to becoming the most advanced nation in the world. Technology had brought new products to the country — bananas, for example — and upwardly mobile Americans had enough leisure time and money to celebrate weddings with special dresses and cakes, and to give their children toys on their birthday. Massive factories like that of industrialist Andrew Carnegie in Homestead, Pennsylvania, churned out steel to make buildings like Chicago’s...

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When Authoritarianism is not enough: Why bullies claim to be the victims in defense of their brutality

That Republicans appear to be on the cusp of overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion seems to have thrown them into confusion. Since Nixon first raised the issue of abortion as a political wedge in 1972, the year before Roe, they have used the issue to raise money and turn out voters. But now, with the prize seemingly within reach, they are ratcheting up their demands, at least in part to continue to raise money and to turn out voters. They also need to re-create their sense of grievance against the “libs” they have just “owned.” With...

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Decoding Trump’s brand of autocracy and a rightwing ideology that seeks to dismantle our rule of law

It has been hard for me to see the historical outlines of the present-day attack on American democracy clearly. But as I was reading a piece in “Vox” by foreign affairs specialist Zack Beauchamp, describing Florida governor Ron DeSantis’s path in Florida as an attempt to follow in the footsteps of Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, the penny dropped. Here is what I see: Before Trump won the presidency in 2016, the modern-day Republican Party was well on its way to endorsing oligarchy. It had followed the usual U.S. historical pattern to that point. In the 1850s, 1890s, 1920s, and then...

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Why the potential of overturning Roe v. Wade follows Dred Scott decision to remove constitutional rights

News broke on May 2 of a leaked draft of what appears to be Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s majority decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision establishing access to abortion as a constitutional right. That news is an alarm like the 1857 Dred Scott v. Sandford decision declaring both that Black Americans had no rights that a White man was bound to respect and that Congress had no power to prohibit human enslavement in the territories. The Dred Scott decision left the question of enslavement not to the national majority, which wanted to prohibit it...

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