Trump’s progenitor: Charles Coughlin during the Great Depression

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A lot of people think we have never seen anyone like Trump in American politics before. True enough, we have not had someone like him in the White House until now, but populists of his stripe appear throughout our political history. Read about one of them from the Great Depression here.

Here are a few quick points from the Wikipedia article on Charles Coughlin:

  • You can readily see similarities between Trump and Coughlin, especially in nativism and America First.
  • You can also see similarities in the reasons both speakers appealed to their audiences: listeners’ disorientation and despair, which lead them to look for people to blame.
  • Federal government had Coughlin deplatformed, like Alex Jones. Government’s role in silencing Coughlin was more direct.
  • Radio was the internet of the time. Coughlin reached millions with every broadcast.
  • People did not listen to Father Coughlin for the same reasons they listened to Billy Graham. Coughlin was not an evangelist!

Even the theme, make America great again, runs through both demagogues.


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