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Trump the Unprecedented

Historian Julian Zelizer explains in the Atlantic what is actually unprecedented about Trump, and what is frequently called unprecedented, but actually has lots of precedent. The short version:

Two things are unprecedented:

1. Unfiltered spur-of-the-moment communications from POTUS (Twitter, rambling interviews) including spontaneous constant attacks on friends and enemies alike.

2. Trumps’s financial conflicts of interest, which are wholly unlike anything in the previous 228 years of the Republic.

Not unprecedented: Presidential war-mongering, unilateral regulation making/unmaking (aka the “Imperial Presidency”), race-baiting, public fights with your own party, internal purges, or attempts to use the Presidency to hide you own wrongdoing. Trump may do all of these as vigorously as any past President (or a bunch of them combined) but none of that stuff is new, so you can’t actually call it “unprecedented”.

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