From McCarthy to Trump
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The two most notorious demagogues in recent American political history (1945–2019) are linked through the unscrupulous lawyer and fixer Roy Cohn, who worked for them both. His career suggests an entree into a biographical effort to compare Senator Joseph R. McCarthy and President Donald J. Trump, both of whom demonstrated an aptitude for arousing popular fears and animosities and for sowing discord and divisiveness. Both were mendacious. Yet McCarthy did not directly and explicitly activate bigotry or nativism, in contrast to Trump, and did not rise above service as junior Senator from Wisconsin, posing less of a threat to democratic institutions and the rule of law.