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Trump’s ‘America First’ Has Echoes From the 1940s

Editor’s note: This article has been corrected to remove Charles Coughlin from the list of America First board members. Although the controversial radio priest was a vocal supporter of America First, he was not on the organization’s board.

In his June 7 primary night victory speech, Donald Trump surprised pundits by reading from a teleprompter. He also spent a good few minutes talking about his signature slogan, “America First.”

We love our country. We love our country. But we can turn this all around. We’re going to do it by putting America first. That commitment is the foundation for change that’s been missing and has been missing for a long time. It’s important to understand what “America first” means. It means on foreign policy, we will never enter into any conflict unless it makes us safer as a nation. It has to make us safer as a nation.

Trump first used this phrase in April, in his only – to date – major foreign policy speech.

Whatever you think of Trump’s interpretation of “America First,” what interests me as a historian is his use of this particular phrase to summarize his views.

Like so many other...

Clinton to Trump: Delete Your Account

There’s politics, and there’s politicking. Politics relates to the process of governing and making policy. Politicking refers to the tactics needed to acquire or retain the power of politics itself. Politics is an esteemed term, while politicking is usually used in a derogatory way. And the two exist in tension.

Today, Hillary Clinton posted a good tweet, responding to Donald Trump responding to President Obama’s endorsement of her candidacy:

In invoking this internet-born retort to tone-deafness, one often deployed against politicians by ordinary folk, Clinton takes a page from Obama’s electioneering playbook. By accentuating his own interest in and adeptness with technology in 2008 and 2012, Obama amplified his appeal among younger voters, for whom smartphones and the internet were increasingly important cultural touchstones. But he wasn’t just signaling that he got them; he was saying that he could bring the benefits of technology to bear on governing.

As chief executive, Obama worked to demonstrate that he could use technology simultaneously as a tool of politicking and as a tool of politics. The White House ran contests like the Apps for Healthy...

Who Will Grab the Bernie-or-Bust and the Never-Trump Vote?

Neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton raced to the center—or “pivoted” in the proper political vernacular—during their speeches on Tuesday night at the close of the primary season. But both made overt appeals to the disaffected supporters of their rivals’ vanquished opponents.

“To all of those Bernie Sanders voters who have been left out in the cold by a rigged system of superdelegates, we welcome you with open arms,” Trump said during his unusually-scripted remarks from his golf club in Westchester, New York. Clinton was more subtle, but only a bit. Acknowledging the “hard-fought, deeply-felt” primary campaign, she sought support not only from those who voted for Sanders but also from people who backed “one of the Republicans.” 

 “The election is not,” she said later in the speech, “about the same old fights between Democrats and Republicans. This election is different. It really is about who we are as a nation. It’s about millions of Americans coming together to say:  We are better than this. We won’t let this happen in America.

“And if you agree,” Clinton continued, “whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, or independent, I hope you’ll join us.”

Reaching across party lines...

Elizabeth Warren Plans to Endorse Hillary Clinton

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren will soon endorse Hillary Clinton.

Reuters reported the news on Wednesday evening, citing sources close to the senator. The report noted that Warren has not ruled out the possibility of joining the Democratic ticket as Clinton’s vice presidential candidate, though she is “not currently interested in serving as her running mate.”  It added that Warren could make her endorsement “within a week or two.” 

The planned endorsement is the latest indicator that Democrats are closing ranks around Clinton, who made history this week as the first woman to claim a major-party presidential nomination in U.S. history. The Associated Press announced on Monday that Clinton had amassed the delegates needed to become the presumptive nominee. On Tuesday, Clinton herself declared victory, the same night that networks projected she would win a majority of the pledged delegates in the primary. 

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Warren has long held off on endorsing any candidate in the Democratic race. That decision put her in an ideal position to act as a broker between the Clinton and Sanders campaigns. The fact that she now seems ready to come...

Would Elizabeth Warren Even Want to Be Vice President?

It’s easy to see why, say, Wall Street bankers might not want Elizabeth Warren in the White House. The Massachusetts Democratic senator has earned a reputation as an outspoken opponent of corporate America and the influence of money in politics. Harry Reid, the U.S. Senate’s top Democrat, is reportedly promoting Warren as a vice-presidential contender in the 2016 election—an indication that party leaders believe her populist message would resonate on the campaign trail. But would she even want the job?

While Warren is widely considered a progressive icon, Democrats could end up in a precarious situation if she becomes Hillary Clinton’s running mate. To defeat Donald Trump, Clinton will need to unite her party after a fractious primary battle with Bernie Sanders. For now, Sanders remains in the race, but on Monday the Associated Press reported that Clinton had amassed enough delegates to secure the nomination. If Clinton believes she has placated Sanders supporters by selecting Warren as her vice president, she may run a more moderate campaign in a bid to appeal to Republicans and Independents. 

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