Liberty Bell Choose Democracy Now


Dale Anderson, Choose Democracy Now

October 14, 2022

Move on, or look back?  I suspect this question may be facing each of us. Having survived four years of Donald Trump and a global pandemic, we all may want nothing more than to forget what happened in the United States between 2017 and 2021 and look for better times to come.

But reliving those years through the eyes of reporters and writers who have compiled a more complete story through interviews of key players and victims, can fill gaps in our understanding. They can provide a more integrated picture of this remarkable episode of our history. 

I hoped looking back could help me put current events into perspective as part of our larger evolving political saga. So, in pursuit of a better understanding, I read (or listened to) three books. 

  • “The Divider: Trump in the White House 2017-2021”, by Peter Baker and Susan Glasser (released Sept 20, 2022) 
  • “Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America” by Maggie Haberman (released Oct 4, 2022)
  • “Nightmare Scenario: Inside the Trump Administrations Response to the Pandemic that Changed History” by Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta (released June 2021)

I found this lookback surprisingly re-balancing and clarifying. These accounts provided connections of events and people that prior to my visiting these books were disjointed and not necessarily chronological in my mind. I found all three absorbing. “The Divider” and “Nightmare Scenario” were the most informative. Maggie Haberman’s book was useful in understanding the early years of Trump before his presidency. All three provided me a certain sense of closure for this tragic episode of our nation’s history. I could better move on.

As an aside, I returned to a 2017 book by law professor Eric Posner entitled “The Demagogue’s Playbook” looking for his comparison between “statesmen” and “demagogues.” Political demagogues are unique politicians capable of taking a nation down a very dark path, and in the process destroying its political, civic, and social fabric. 

Posner’s summary of the differences between a statesman and a demagogue draws a bright line between these two kinds of politicians. I’ve displayed those differences in the chart below (and added the pictures). After reflecting on the three books I read and considering Posner’s chart, I again concluded the obvious: DEMAGOGUES ARE DANGEROUS . . . and COMPETENCE and CHARACTER MATTERS.