Start Making Sense

Fred Trump and the KKK of the 1920s: Linda Gordon, plus Nancy MacLean on the Roots of the Radical Right

The KKK of the 1920s had millions of members outside the South. It targeted Catholics and Jews as well as blacks, and had impressive success at electing governors and congressmen. It passed anti-immigrant restrictions that remained in effect until 1965. And Fred Trump, the president’s father, was arrested as a young man at a Klan march in New York City. Historian Linda Gordon explains—her new book is ‘The Second Coming of the KKK: The Ku Klux Klan and the American Political Tradition’.
Plus: Nancy MacLean uncovered the deep history of the radical right’s stealth plan for America: the historic connection between the Koch Brothers’ anti-government politics, the white South’s massive resistance to desegregation, and a Nobel Prize-winning Virginia economist. Nancy is an award-winning historian and the William H. Chafe Professor of history and public policy at Duke University. Her ‘Democracy in Chains’ was named “most valuable book” of 2017 by John Nichols on The Nation’s Progressive Honor Roll.
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From Bill O’Reilly to Al Franken: Katha Pollitt on #MeToo in 2017; plus John Nichols on The Resistance in 2017 and Howell Raines on Alabama’s Amazing Year

Our year-in-review show opens with Katha Pollitt on #MeToo in 2017. The year began with the resignation of Bill O’Reilly and ended with the resignation of Al Franken. Along the way we had Harvey Weinstein and Roy Moore. But what about sexual harassment by men who aren’t in high profile media or politics positions?
Plus: 2017 was the year of The Resistance – beginning with the women’s march the day after Trump’s inauguration. John Nichols has our Progressive Honor Roll, honoring those who have led in fighting Trump and Trumpism.
And the most remarkable political year was Alabama’s: starting with the appointment of Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General and ending with Doug Jones winning the election for Sessions’s seat, the first Democrat to win an Alabama senate seat in 27 years. Legendary Alabama journalist Howell Raines reviews the many surprises along the way and assesses their significance.

“Whiteness Is All They’ve Got”: Gary Younge on Trump’s Working Class Supporters; Plus D.D. Guttenplan on Jackson, Miss., and Amy Wilentz on Ivana

Gary Younge traveled from Maine to Mississippi interviewing Trump’s white working class supporters. He found anxiety, pain, and a loss of hope. For many, he concludes, “Whiteness is all they’ve got.”
Plus: Amy Wilentz talks about Ivana Trump’s new memoir, ‘Raising Trump’: stories about Don Jr., Ivanka, and little Eric – and their mom and dad. It’s a kind of “Real Housewives of Trump Tower.”
Also: The poorest state of the union is Mississippi, but it’s capital city, Jackson, has a mayor, Chokwe Antar Lumumba, who says he wants to make Jackson “the most radical city on the planet.” D.D. Guttenplan spent a week there – he reports on what he learned.
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Savor This Victory: Doug Jones Is Taking Jeff Sessions’s Old Seat. Howell Raines on Alabama; Joan Walsh on #MeToo after Al Franken & John Nichols on Net Neutrality

Alabama voters defeated Roy Moore on Tuesday and elected civil rights hero Doug Jones to the Senate—to take the seat vacated by Jeff Sessions. Howell Raines, the legendary Alabama journalist, explains what happened—and what it means for the future.
Plus: What should happen with the “Me Too” campaign to expose sexual harassment, now that Al Franken has said he will leave the Senate?  Joan Walsh says Franken’s departure should be “a beginning, not an end.”
Also, net neutrality: the FCC is planning to bring it to an end on Thursday. John Nichols thinks that’s a terrible idea.
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How the Democrats Can Defeat Roy Moore in Alabama: Howell Raines on The Nation podcast, plus Bob Dreyfuss on Russigate and Gary Younge on interviewing a Nazi

From the Alabama hill country to the state’s Black Belt, Roy Moore, the Republican senate candidate accused of sexual assault of a 14-year-old, seems to be losing ground to his Democratic opponent Doug Jones. Howell Raines, the legendary Alabama newsman, reports on the final days of the election campaign.
Also: It’s been a big week for Russiagate special counsel Robert Mueller. Bob Dreyfuss discusses the guilty plea by Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and the subpoena for Trump’s associates’ records at Deutsche Bank, notorious for money laundering—two developments with ominous implications for the president.
Plus: Two ways to interview a Nazi: on the one hand, The New York Times recently did a profile of “the Nazi next door,” portraying him as an ordinary guy; on the other, Gary Younge confronted Richard Spencer, America’s leading white supremacist, on video. With Gary’s help, we compare and contrast the two approaches.
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The GOP and Its Terrible Tax Bill: George Zornick; plus Joan Walsh on sexual harassment, and Rick Perlstein on Republicans against Trump

What will it take for Republicans to pass “the biggest tax scam in history” (Paul Krugman’s phrase)? George Zornick reports on the obstacles the GOP is facing in the Senate, and the pressure its members are feeling from donors. Still to come, if the bill passes the Senate: problems in the House, where the Tea Party Republicans may be more serious about the deficit and the debt.
Plus: sexual harassment in Washington—we’ve learned a lot about that in the last week, and about the way Congress deals with complaints against its members. The procedures have been called “flawed.” Joan Walsh comments, starting with the different cases of John Conyers and Al Franken.
Also: Republicans who have stood up to Trump—like Jeff Flake and John McCain—seem like truth-telling heroes to a lot of liberals; but not to Rick Perlstein. The author of the classic political history Nixonland talks about the trouble with anti-Trump Republicans.
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The Resistance to Trump: Year One–David Cole; plus Lawrence O’Donnell on 1968 and Steven Hahn on Hillbilly Elegy

In the year since Trump’s election, the president’s ability to do damage has been “substantially checked”—by the courts, and even more by citizen activism, says David Cole. He’s The Nation’s legal correspondent, and also legal director of the ACLU; he reviews the current state of Supreme Court litigation on voting rights, the Muslim travel ban, and other key issues.
Also: 2016 was a bad year in American politics, but 1968 was worse, says Lawrence O’Donnell, the MSNBC host. That was the year Nixon beat Hubert Humphrey, guaranteeing that the war in Vietnam would continue. O’Donnell’s new book is Playing with Fire: The 1968 Election and the Transformation of American Politics.”
Plus: Hillbilly Elegy, the best-selling memoir by J.D. Vance, is often taken as a good explanation of the white working-class rage that led to Trump’s election. But Steven Hahn doesn’t agree—he says the book “has the feel of a college application essay,” a simplistic caricature of family dysfunction and the author’s efforts to escape and achieve. Hahn, professor of history at NYU, wrote about “The Rage of White Folks” for The Nation’s Fall Books issue.
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Can the Democrats Actually Beat Roy Moore in Alabama? Howell Raines, plus Adam Shatz on Trump and the Bomb, and Corey Robin on Trump and The Reactionary Mind

The legendary journalist Howell Raines reports from Alabama on the continuing Republican support for Roy Moore, the Senate candidate accused of molesting a 14-year-old and sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl. Meanwhile, his Democratic opponent, the heroic civil-rights attorney Doug Jones, is running “the most vigorous Democratic campaign that’s been waged in Alabama in at least 30 years.”
Also, Trump and the bomb: We’re hoping the generals keep him from doing anything crazy, like starting a nuclear war with North Korea—but the system is set up to give the president control over nuclear weapons, rather than the military. Adam Shatz explains.
Plus: The reactionary mind of Donald Trump: Corey Robin talks about Trump’s place in the tradition of reactionary political thought—his book The Reactonary Mind: from Edmund Burke to Donald Trump is out now in a new paperback edition.
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Katrina vanden Heuvel: Russia, Trump, and the Democrats; plus George Zornick on the tax bill and Danny Meyer on the trouble with tipping.

Katrina vanden Heuvel reports on the dedication of Russia’s monument to victims of the Gulag, and comments on Robert Mueller’s investigations—which “must continue”—and on the lessons of Trump’s victory: the Democrats must overcome their failure to win working class voters.
Plus: The GOP tax bill faces problems in the House, and may never get to the Senate—where additional obstacles await. George Zornick explains.
Also: Legendary restauranteur Danny Meyer explains why he’s against tipping—he spoke at a dinner in honor of The Nation’s Food issue, held at his restaurant at the Whitney Museum, “Untitled.”
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Michelle Goldberg: Do Republicans Have the Guts to Go Against Trump? Plus Bob Dreyfuss on Mueller at work, and Tony Schwartz on Trump.

Republicans and Trump, after the indictments: Michelle Goldberg, op-ed columnist at The New York Times, looks at why some Senate Republicans have broken with Trump—and why the rest have not, even after special counsel Robert Mueller has made it clear he’s just getting started with criminal charges against Trump’s associates.
Also: Tony Schwartz knows a lot about Trump—in fact, he wrote Trump’s bestselling memoir The Art of the Deal. That classic of modern literature spent forty-eight weeks in 1987 on the Times best-seller list, and more than a million copies have been sold. When Mueller’s prosecutors close in on Trump, will he become more cautious and careful? Schwartz’s answer is a short one: “Not a chance in hell.”
Plus: The arrest of Trump’s campaign chief Paul Manafort on Monday on multiple felony charges is only the beginning of the results of the work of special counsel Robert Muller. The political implications for Trump are ominous. Bob Dreyfuss explains.
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