There’s a powerful urge to place events in a historical context. Especially when faced with a shock or surprise, we find comparisons comforting. The September 11th attacks were consistently compared to Pearl Harbor. Inauguration day crowds were measured against previous turnout. Finding analogues delivers some comfort, a sense of continuity and a set reference point for a response.
In a tentative return to posting at Forbes, I drew out the comparisons between Donald Trump and Marion Barry. Those comparisons are more comprehensive than one might expect.
What inspires voters to invite disaster by electing corrupt, incompetent leaders? Like Trump, Barry was a bigoted, belligerent champion of racial politics and a disastrous administrator. Making sense of Marion Berry’s long career and lingering popularity starts by understanding the role of race and identity in politics. Trump and Barry form a type, a missile of destructive vengeance aimed from the lower tiers of an alienated social group hoping to blow apart everything that works for everyone else.
If nothing else, it provides a welcome escape from the more unsettling comparisons between Trump and mid-20th century European Fascists. Interested in your thoughts.