How does Applebaum account for Donald Trump's rise in Twilight of Democracy?

Applebaum accounts for Donald Trump’s rise in Twilight of Democracy by tying his support to America's history of violent pessimism.

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Anne Applebaum accounts for the rise of Donald Trump by placing him within the preexisting pessimism in America’s body politic. For the past 100 years or so, Applebaum identifies the threat of violent pessimism as a mostly leftist phenomenon. According to Applebaum, people like anarchist Emma Goldman “believed the American...

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Anne Applebaum accounts for the rise of Donald Trump by placing him within the preexisting pessimism in America’s body politic. For the past 100 years or so, Applebaum identifies the threat of violent pessimism as a mostly leftist phenomenon. According to Applebaum, people like anarchist Emma Goldman “believed the American Dream as a false promise.” Goldman and others dealt with their despair through violence.

Applebaum sees the left’s “gloom” as a result of the nefarious consequences of capitalism, racism, and American foreign policy. She locates the right’s relatively recent “disappointment” in the supposed decline of morals and religion. In Applebaum’s portrayal, Trump fits in with the current “strand of deep right-wing pessimism.” She links the rhetoric of Trump to the words of right-wing pessimist Pat Buchanan. In 1999, Buchanan declared that the principles and ideals that held Americans together were “all gone.”

Applebaum reinforces the role that “deep cynicism” played in Trump’s rise in an interview with one of Trump’s “wealthy supporters.” The supporter acknowledges that Trump is corrupt. She then claims that all previous presidents were corrupt, so there’s no reason to single out Trump.

For an example of how Trump deftly manifested America's simmering pessimism, Applebaum includes a 2017 interview between Trump and former Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly. After Trump conveyed admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin, O’Reilly noted, “But he’s a killer.” Trump replied, “There are a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?” This exchange illustrates how Trump tapped into negative attitudes about America and won the 2016 presidential election. Trump did not win by talking about a “shining city on the hill.” His victory was propelled by something sinister.

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