[of a constitutional amendment abolishing
the Electoral College] are slim to none. I
just don’t think it is going to happen.
CAR: What sort of president will Trump
WL: Historians have to be careful
not to be prophets — always a dangerous
gambit. But my expectations based on his
past behaviors is that he will be a dreadful
president. The first indication of this will be
what his appointments are.
CAR: Have we ever had a situation like
this before, where we’re about to inaugurate a
divisive candidate whom critics perceive as a
misogynistic, racist, anti-Semitic bigot?
WL: No. The reason you call on historians is that you expect them to say nothing
new here, this is just the same, but I don’t
see how any responsible historian could say
that. There has never been a candidate who
has abused so many segments of the population and then moved on to a position of
CAR: Have we ever seen an election
where the media have so badly missed what
WL: Yes. This is the third time in my
life I have seen this, the first time as a
teenager in the 1936 election when the
Literary Digest, which had correctly called
every election since 1916, foresaw a disastrous defeat for Franklin Roosevelt. He
swept every state but two. And in the 1948
election, when I was working for Richard
Bolling in Missouri, I recall how badly pollsters erred who predicted a Truman defeat.
CAR: Did any good come from this election?
WL: The only good I can imagine is
that it calls the country’s attention to those
pockets of unemployment and economic
misery in an otherwise generally rising
economy, where people have been hurt by
the global economy and NAFTA, and that
CAR: What does this election say about
our political parties, who nominated two highly
WL: I’m hesitant to make a broad
generalization about political parties. What
many Americans once hailed as a progressive step, a system of primary elections that
take the choice out of smoke-filled rooms,
means that there isn’t such a thing as a
political party making a choice. This is how
Trump managed to make it as the nominee
of the Republican Party. On the Demo-
cratic side, Hillary Clinton was so dominant
a figure in her party that nobody else could
manage to defeat her — and the wiser ones
made no effort to do so.
CAR: Are America’s voters, as you said in
1992, getting the president they deserve?
WL: Well, those who think the country
needs to be turned around, and an earlier
America needs to be restored, got the man
they wanted to have. But whether he can
deliver what they are expecting from him is
highly improbable — a land of white male
dominance that I don’t think we are going
to see again, or should see again.
Leuchtenburg was one of five Carolina
professors who took part in “Consider This ...
2016 Post-Elections,” a panel discussion
presented by the GAA on Dec. 1. This was
a follow-up to a pre-election event presented
by the GAA in March before the North
Carolina primary. Both videos are online at
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Job 1161CED12 • Job Title: Bingo_Alumni Review
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