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The true President of America’s Fifth Republic Obama, not Biden, is the nation's new Lincoln

It's the man on the right. (Mark Makela/Getty Images)

It's the man on the right. (Mark Makela/Getty Images)


July 4, 2024   7 mins

The fireworks in America this Fourth of July will be fuelled by the country’s imminent election, in which a convicted felon faces off against a doddering old man who is too senile to know that he isn’t really the President. The country’s elite would be glad if this were hyperbole; unfortunately for them, it is not. But Joe Biden’s fitness for office is no longer the big question that the American press is afraid to ask. After three years of near-total silence, they suddenly can’t stop asking it.

There may have indeed been members of America’s political and media elites who were shocked by Biden’s debate performance. Crediting the sincerity of their reactions doesn’t say much for their powers of observation, though. Biden’s shuffling gait, frozen facial expressions, babbling fabulist arabesques and inability to perform simple physical tasks without falling down have all been on public display since the first year of his Presidency — an office he won mostly in absentia while hiding out in the basement of his home in Delaware.

It is certainly possible that the American elite stuck its fingers in its ears and covered its eyes in order to block out Biden’s resemblance to late-period Leonid Brezhnev. Perhaps by repeating the ideas that Biden was not only sharp as a tack but also a geopolitical genius and probably even the greatest American President of any of our lifetimes, they came to believe that some version of these things were true, and had to be true — because everyone said so.

Those who favour psychodynamic in-group explanations can certainly find support in the rapid about-faces staged by America’s leading pundits. Earlier this year, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman was boasting of the personal time he spent with Biden, who he proclaimed to be “completely lucid and with excellent grasp of detail”. After the debate, Krugman called on Biden to step down. Senile dementia is a clever disease. Or maybe Krugman didn’t like the face he saw in the mirror the morning after Biden’s debate performance.

What astounded Krugman and his fellow bold-faced journalist types about Biden’s rotten debate performance wasn’t the obviousness of Biden’s mental decline, but the fear that they were now publicly shown to have been lying. Krugman’s fellow in-house NYT author of Soviet state propaganda, Thomas Friedman, who fancies himself an “old friend” of Biden’s, was writing fibs about Biden as late as last month while boasting of his long off-the-record conversations with the President about the future of the Middle East. It took Friedman less than 24 hours to proclaim that Biden’s debate performance had made him “weep”. Poor man — no doubt it did. David Remnick of The New Yorker, who authored a door-stopper-sized hagiography of Barack Obama during the President’s first year in office, was equally quick to go public with his discovery that Joe Biden was maybe not exactly up to sorting marbles by size or colour, just in time to become a virgin for the next election.

It’s hard to be revealed as a fibber — especially when your job is ostensibly to tell the truth. But the sight of journalistic worthies suddenly grabbing hand towels to cover their proximity to power was not by itself enough to explain the Night of the Journalistic Long Knives.

Thank goodness, then, that Barack Obama emerged from the shadows the following morning, as he has done like clockwork after every significant moment of the Biden Presidency, to proclaim that everything was fine, and that he was in charge — another obvious fact of the Biden Presidency that America’s commentariat has firmly repressed. After having just led a confused-seeming Biden off-stage by the shoulder at a recent Hollywood fundraiser, Obama took to social media to reassure the Party faithful that “bad debate nights happen” and that “this election is still a choice between someone who has fought for ordinary folks his entire life and someone who cares only about himself. Between someone who tells the truth; who knows right from wrong and will give it to the American people straight… Last night didn’t change that.”

Who was that first “someone”? The absence of Biden’s name from Obama’s tweet wasn’t the only broad hint that America’s shadow President insisted on dropping. In fact, nothing had changed. The election still offered the same choice between someone and someone. Meanwhile, who did you people think was running things for the past three years? It’s me, Obama.

The corollary of Obama’s remarks was also clear. The shock and surprise were all for show: The Washington Post and NYT could save their tattered journalistic honour by pointing to their calls for Biden’s resignation, while donors could be assuaged by blaming Biden’s poor debate performance on his “insular senior team” of “long-time aides” who had “isolated” and “cocooned” the President, according to Politico. Meanwhile, “adults in the room” like Obama’s former Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson made the rounds to patiently explain that “a Presidency is more than one man”. According to Johnson’s novel theory, who the President is actually doesn’t matter, even “on his worst day at age 86”. Instead, what matters is “the people around him”, presumably including Johnson’s fellow Obama White House veterans like Lisa Monaco, Merrick Garland, Samantha Power, Bret McGurk and Jake Sullivan.

Whether Obama runs Joe Biden’s “Weekend at Bernie’s”-style Presidency from his basement in his sweats while watching ESPN, as he fantasised to Stephen Colbert on national television about doing, and no matter how often Biden’s cabinet secretaries make trips with Secret Service escorts to Obama’s Kalorama mansion, what remains startling is the seeming absence of any curiosity on the part of the country’s elite about how the country is actually being run. In the minds of the people who ostensibly run things, or at least pretend to know who runs things, it’s been enough to dismiss observations about Biden’s health, or Obama’s role in his Presidency, however large or small, as “conspiracy theories” — a term of art that has become something like “premature anti-fascist” in Stalinist nomenclature.

To extend the analogy: There is a point in the arc of failing regimes where the language they habitually use to describe themselves is so at odds with reality that propagandists and apologists no longer try to resolve contradictions or argue details. They simply lie. It doesn’t matter what you see, think, hear or believe. The sky is blue. Or maybe it’s orange. Maybe the sky is Fruit Loops. They can say any nonsense that they want, and they are powerless to say otherwise. The more obvious the lies they tell, the more powerful they are — and the more powerless you are. That’s what it means.

“The more obvious the lies they tell, the more powerful they are — and the more powerless you are.”

By that logic, the point of letting Biden onstage to stumble and mutter incoherencies was precisely to underline to people what they voted for in 2020, and are now being asked to vote for a second time. Better to elect a corpse than a convicted felon who will destroy American democracy. Besides, we all know the corpse isn’t really in charge of anything. As for who is in charge, someday, someone will surely write a book about it.

And lest we forget: Barack Obama always wanted to be a writer, although that part of his career didn’t turn out as wonderful as he had hoped — at least not yet. At 63, there is still time for him to buckle down and become Jorge Luis Borges or even Mario Vargas Llosa. As a politician, however, he has accomplished exactly what he set out to do, which was to become Abraham Lincoln. As President, Obama advised his speechwriters to model his sentences and paragraphs on Lincoln’s, and to keep copies of Lincoln’s collected speeches on their desks.

Why Lincoln? The answer is simple, of course. Lincoln freed the slaves. More than that, he founded a new American Republic, of which there have been exactly five, just like in France. The fact that American historians present the country’s history as an unbroken chain of glory (or more recently shame), beginning with the Constitution and continuing through every successive Fourth of July holiday weekend, is simply a narrative device meant to imbue earnest grade-school students and their instructors with the country’s progressive historical bias. Yes, children, America is always moving towards realising a more perfect union with equal rights for everyone. The one notable exception being Native Americans, whose story, unlike that of illegal migrants or members of historically oppressed BIPOC trans communities, can’t be accommodated into anyone’s idea of progress. Native Americans lost, and were more or less wiped out, and then confined to miserable reservations in empty parts of the country where they are denied many basic federal benefits, have minimal opportunities for education or employment, and drink themselves to death in large numbers. It is much more pleasant to talk about slavery.

Dividing up American history into five Republics is another good way of showing that the story spun by historians of the progressive school is bunk. The First American Republic, the one founded by the rich Norther traders and bankers and Southern planters who financed the American Revolution against the British crown, was an elite construction based on Greek and Roman models that aimed overtly to constrain popular democratic power, which it viewed as a destabilising evil. That Republic was shattered by the election by Andrew Jackson, a Trump-like figure who inveighed against bankers and elites and founded the second American Republic as a rude people’s democracy.

But Jackson’s Second Republic later foundered on the incompatibility of the slave economy of the South and the manufacturing economy of the North, which became first an economic crisis and then a political crisis, and finally a Civil War. Abraham Lincoln, President of the North, then founded the Third American Republic, rooted in a strong federal state, the dominance of Northern elites and the abolition of slavery, while continuing the Jacksonian push to settle the West. This Republic lasted the longest, from 1860 until 1932, when it collapsed in the face of the Great Depression. The Fourth American Republic, founded by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the most powerful and enigmatic of all American Presidents, excised the New England elites in favour of the “New Deal alliance” of Southerners and northern urban immigrant voters — and more or less conquered the entire planet.

When exactly the Fourth American Republic ended is a plausible subject for historical debate. One might pin the tail on Bill Clinton’s embrace of global trade treaties like NAFTA and GATT, and China’s entry into the WTO, which blew up the broad middle class that FDR’s party had spent decades building and turned the Democrats into the party of Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan. Or you could blame the technologies that some argue made globalism inevitable, and make Bill Gates and Steve Jobs the poster-boys for the Fifth American Republic, which is the country that Americans are living in now.

What’s missing from both these accounts, though, is America’s obsession with race, identity politics, quotas, ideological and personal purity tests, and other hallmarks of what is called “wokeism” — all of which became part of American culture under Obama. In turn, it is the harnessing of these tools to the rule of fantastically wealthy oligarchs who operate politically through the Democratic Party that characterises the current American system, a development that again took place under Obama. Without Obama, it is hard to see the current system operating as it does, or having the features that it has — making his actual day-to-day involvement in the affairs of the Biden White House something of a moot point.

Let the conspiracy theorists debate whether and how Obama pulls the strings of Biden’s corpse. This Fourth of July, Americans can celebrate the founding of the Fifth American Republic and its founder, Barack Obama, who has lived up to his goal of becoming the 21st-century Abraham Lincoln — at least as far as his impact on American political history goes. History, however, also tells us that Lincoln also jailed his political opponents, and that the Republic he founded quickly became a kleptocracy that eventually imploded amid a massive social crisis, before a new Republic arose. Hopefully, Americans will get lucky a sixth time, too.


David Samuels is a writer who lives in upstate New York.


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Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
18 days ago

This Fourth of July, Americans can celebrate the founding of the Fifth American Republic and its founder, Barack Obama, who has lived up to his goal of becoming the 21st-century Abraham Lincoln — at least as far as his impact on American political history goes.
He’s really more the 21st-century Wilson: a brittle, self-righteous academic who prosecuted a bloody war under the flag of bringing peace and greatly (and largely unconstitutionally) expanded the power of the state.

Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
18 days ago

Also tried (successfully) to imprison opponents and went senile and had his wife running things at the end.

Norfolk Sceptic
Norfolk Sceptic
17 days ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

So you know the rumours 🙂

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
17 days ago

I’m glad you mentioned Woodrow Wilson and his second wife. When Wilson had a stroke and spent his last year as President in a coma, his wife became de facto president.
When Ronald Reagan became senile, his second wife Nancy became de facto President (and her astrologer became the most powerful astrologer in modern history!)
I have long thought that Biden’s second wife, Jill, was the de facto President, which is confirmed by her actions of this past week, leading Joe down the stairs and telling him he’s great, and shielding him from anyone who might take away her power.
Joe was a moderate, even somewhat conservative Senator; pushing through anti drug legislation that filled the prisons, and “bankruptcy reform” that made student loan debt impossible to discharge … but suddenly as President he became super progressive? As progressive as his wife?
Hmmm.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
17 days ago

Good thought piece. Too much overlooked are effects of deep pocketed donors like Soros, Steyer, Bezos and others. They probably pay for a large amount of the gaslighting we’ve been subjected to, and they seldom get mentioned. They are implacable in the goal of tearing the country down.

Damon Hager
Damon Hager
14 days ago

People who spent years asserting Biden’s cognitive acuity are now shocked (shocked!) by his cognitive incapacity.
People who were repeatedly warned that Covid lockdowns were profoundly harmful now evince selective amnesia.
And so on.
Fish gonna swim, birds gonna fly, liberal-progressive media gonna lie.
If they fool you again, shame on you.

T Bone
T Bone
18 days ago

The Democratic Party is a Machine of Collectivists. They do not care about anybody’s personal liberty. They speak in performative cliches and care little about the plebs they claim to represent. But to be honest, the scope of their capture is impressive. How did so many mediocrities ascend to such heights? I don’t want to give guys like Wilson, Dewey, Gramsci and Marcuse all the credit but their intellectual lineage produced quite a system of control.

Obama is not mediocre. I complete understand how he enamored so many people. Unless the Democrats can find another inspirational candidate to defend the expertise of Total Public Administration, the Democrats will become the party of purple haired
cat ladies

Is Michelle the candidate or not?

Dylan Blackhurst
Dylan Blackhurst
17 days ago
Reply to  T Bone

Why does being the wife of a president qualify someone as a potential presidential candidate?

I don’t get it. We had the same thing with Hillary and that went well!

Surely there’s a very obvious conflict there. A way of extending a previous president’s influence.

Obadiah B Long
Obadiah B Long
16 days ago

What you say is true, but Hillary was actually the political theorist behind a relatively amoral Bill. Michelle is not without intellect, but she is not the thinker behind Barack. Which makes her putative candidacy even less legit.

Sylvia Volk
Sylvia Volk
16 days ago
Reply to  Obadiah B Long

Michelle Obama also has zero experience in government. Zilch. Fewer qualifications than your average county sheriff. But sure, catapult her into the Oval Office, start her career at the very top, what could go wrong? The people who think it’s a good idea are probably beyond desperate.

Barry Dank
Barry Dank
14 days ago
Reply to  Sylvia Volk

So what! Trump had zero governmental experience before he was elected.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
17 days ago
Reply to  T Bone

An American from Beverly Hills said to me ” The business of America is business and this is where all the best brains go “. However since 1918 the state , at city, state and federal level has greatly increased. Employment in education has greatly increased; how many universities were there in 1918 and and how many students ?Employment as either a politicians or as civil or military servant favours the collective mind set. The fraction those employed by the state, including politicians has greatly increased.
Any ism, whether communism, Nazism, Islamicism and Catholism requires surrender of individuality and free thinking to join. The ism offers security, freedom from the responsibility of thinking and action, in short initiative.
Most city states are run by people who want rank, reward but do not want the responsibility of decision making. Hence success of Democratic Party. The present day Democratic Party represents the antithesis of Americans with the pioneering spirit.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
17 days ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

I have to agree with nearly all of that. But the present-day Republicans are a total disaster too. Sold out to TrumpISM and its founder; celebrating a radical-reactionary Supreme Court that’s about as originalist as a woke undergraduate with a dripping red pen; focused on protecting/expanding the rights of corporations and the ultra-rich. Giving lip service to the cultural concerns and best interests of the working and lower-middle classes–rather like the Democrats on that last point.

T Bone
T Bone
16 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I need you to go deeper on this. I really don’t object to Trump criticism. There’s alot of material there. But this attack on the Court and firebrands like DeSantis strikes me as reactionary itself. I hear very little substantive critique and a high degree of ad hominem.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
16 days ago
Reply to  T Bone

Maybe, if having any passionate reaction at all is now synonymous with reactionary. I think DeSantis is a weathervane, not a genuinely, highly principled person*. He picks Mickey Mouse fights, literally and otherwise. Total sign-of-the-times about face on Trump. The title of his book is a cheap shot trolling of Obama’s book. And I’ll forbear to go too far into what a smug, sneering face and needling voice he has, though I think attitude and personality are absolutely in-bounds when it comes to a potential president, or even a governor or congressman.
Did I attack the character of individual justices of the Supreme Court? In a determination to save Trump as an individual, they have enshrined near-total immunity for Trump and all future presidents. (Biden, Obama, Bush Jr., and Clinton too, for those who regard them as criminals). They’re letting the 2nd amendment swallow too much of the 1st, unwilling to even limit bump stocks, against common sense and majority will. Even before the incoming wave of Trump votes, in the 4.75 to 4.25 days (if you will) of Anthony Kennedy’s center-right-weighted swing vote, they made an already bad situation worse with the Citizens United decision, opening the floodgates for more undue influence from deep-pocket groups and corporations re-made into “people”. And just several weeks ago, gerrymandering was also given free reign.
I’m inclined to agree with the decision in favor of the baker who didn’t want to make a gay-wedding cake (I admit I find the idea of a “gay cake” a bit funny), and to disagree with the Hobby decision. But those are within the usually-sensible range of the pre-Trump John Roberts court, despite individual opinions one way or the other. As a body, the judicial branch is very far to the right now, thanks to a huge influx of sold-out-to-Trump immoderates, in every federal court with open seats during his administration. And we have an even more fractured, chaotic state-by-state collage of abortion laws thanks to Dobbs.
I’m fine with individual conservatives on the court, or a right-tilting balance, even though I don’t favor that. I don’t want a 7-2 or heavier liberal-progressive tilt either, and would rather not have a 6-3 one. Kagan or Jackson are a bit too woke-adjacent for me, and I only want them there compared to the Gorsuch-type alternative, and as a counterweight to the conservative/reactionary supermajority. But the Court would have some version of a 5-4 conservative tilt–with Roberts and Cavanaugh or Barrett (or whichever pick followed Gorsuch) forming a potential swing bloc–except for the eleven-month dirty-play stonewalling of the Republicans under the coldblooded guidance of Mitch McConnell. That was a ruthless power grab that amounted to a form of court-packing.
*I feel the same way about Newsome.

T Bone
T Bone
14 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

You’ve got a great mind but I really think you’ve made snap decisions on people like DeSantis and Justices like Alito. I’m fully comfortable regurgitating most of that mindset…not intentionally…it just seems that everything I believe seems to line up with exactly what they say.

Jefferson and Adams main dispute was about hereditary government. When I think about the people you call “principled Conservatives” they all seem to be hereditary.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
14 days ago
Reply to  T Bone

Maybe so, T Bone*. But I would definitely point that right back at you when it comes to the people you disagree with. I don’t think you should pretend to be giving both sides the same level of fair treatment.
*In fact, to a significant degree…too true and fair enough.
**However, while I admit I’ve not taken a favorable or fully charitable view of him from the beginning, my assessment of DeSantis is not a snap judgment. I’ve paid attention to his actions and his act. You consider him a firebrand; I think he’s a bandwagon opportunist–not that that’s rare in politics.
***Was John McCain a son of high privilege or hereditary wealth. How about Trump?

T Bone
T Bone
13 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I may fail sometimes but I try really hard to judge influential figures fairly.

It hasn’t always been this way but right now…Conservatives seem to have more intellectual high ground than Progressive/Liberals. They’ve literally been “marginalized” from mainstream culture for 15 or so years.  You learn from being systematically sectioned off. Democrats have all their top people heading up Media organizations.  They’ve had total control over the means of information production for so long that they got arrogant.  It’s probably a cyclical thing but it appears to be a real phenomenon.

I feel very strongly about DeSantis because he continually takes bold stances and everybody calls him names for six months until they realize he’s right and everyone follows suit. The heart of the American Conservativism is DeSantis mindset.  Trump is not a Conservative and to his credit…he doesn’t claim to be. In an optimal world where Democrats contain their aristocratic hubris, Conservatives wouldn’t need Trump.

I’m not going to bash too harshly but I don’t think Cheney or Romney can hold a candle to DeSantis as far as Conservative “principles.”  But you’re very high on those two and very down on DeSantis and I don’t understand that if you’re just a Centrist that wants a return of “principled Conservatives.” I don’t disagree with your desire for dignified leaders but that trait can’t override bad policy. I’d much prefer a less dignified politician with good policies than an Incompetent performative politician.

I do think you’re sane and rational but I think you’re left-center just like I’m right-center.  You’re auto-pilot is Democrat and mine is Republican.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
13 days ago
Reply to  T Bone

I’m not just a centrist. I’ve repeatedly stated that I average-out moderate or center left*. But I am not in lockstep, and that does not apply to every issue.
I don’t think the whole country will be adopting DeSantis’s mandated upside-of-slavery lessons or level of interference in public university instruction. I hope not. Keep CRT out of K-12; insist on freedom-of-inquiry and protection for viewpoint diversity. But do not ban books for adults! I feel this way about the censoriousness on both wings of the sociopolitical divide.
I think Cheney is quite brilliant, and sincere. Her politics are far to the right of mine and I would only vote for or prefer her to a candidate like Trump. In a world where I were somehow forced to choose Cheney or DeSantis for president that wouldn’t be easy for me. They are both sane enough but only one has adopted the burn-it-to-save-it rhetoric and (to some extent) approach of the Orange Oracle. I think DeSantis is plenty book smart, but insincere, without much of a core except in the egoic sense. Does that make me right let alone prove my case? Of course not, but it is not a snap judgment either.
I’m not keen on having “principled conservatives” run big things by themselves. I’ll repeat what I’ve said elsewhere on this site: I think the Left and Right–broadly conceived– exist in an eternal, dynamic tension that can and should be healthy. I think radical voices are sometimes valuable–even indispensable–but I wouldn’t want extremists or radicals in charge of anything. (There may be rare exceptions but I can’t think of any just now).
I respect your overall fairmindedness but continue to doubt that it extends as far and deep as you believe it does. I think you are more partisan than me at present. But maybe not. Would you ever vote for any real-life Democrat if there was a Republican on the ballot too?
Still, you rarely use totalizing language in which The Left becomes a flexible synonym for all that is bad and wrong.
*If forced to choose one label, I’d call myself a classical liberal–but I’m pretty unherded on that one too.

T Bone
T Bone
12 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

He did not say there was “upside to slavery.” The Historical text that he approved in schools argues against the Groupthink Structural Determinist model of CRT that claims past harms determine one’s future and can only be remediated through present day grievance.  Basically, he’s claiming skin color is not a Barrier to present day success.

Likewise, the “censorious” allegations fall apart if you examine them at a base level.  State Education is a State Question.  All he did was give parents the right to object to the placement of specific materials in public libraries.   He did not ban any books for adults.  He definitely curtailed the blatant production of Anti-American propaganda being taught at State schools including Universities but I see no evidence of “book banning.”  The entire “book banning” claim from the orchestrators of Cancel Culture is all a bit rich.  There’s a reason more negative attack ads were launched at DeSantis than Trump and Biden combined before he dropped out.   Nobody can handle him in a one on one debate.  Newsome learned that the hard way.

I would vote for Polis or Beshear over a few Establishment Republicans.  I’d probably vote for RFK over Trump if he were the nominee…but for some reason he got forced out.  Guys who want to shrink the role of the Administrative State can’t really exist in the Party of government largess.

I do respect how well you consider opposing viewpoints.  I could be more partisan in the current environment.  I’m open to that. I’m just saying that considering we can civilly discuss, I don’t think we’re all that far apart.  Conservatism is just as prone to Establishment capture as Progressivism. I see that. Look at the UK.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
12 days ago
Reply to  T Bone

I agree that there is farcical hypocrisy among some far-lefties who want to suppress speakers and speech they don’t like, but are outraged at the idea of in any way limiting speech or writing they do like. However, there have been stacks removals from individual Florida libraries and schools, some ridiculous and some ominous. From Politico on 1/19/24:
“Florida’s Legislature in 2023 expanded education transparency laws by requiring books considered pornographic, harmful to minors or that depict sexual activity to be pulled from shelves within five days and remain out of circulation for the duration of any challenge. If school officials deem a book inappropriate, it can be permanently removed from circulation or restricted to certain grade levels”.
Individual parents or outrage-takers could also challenge anything. Many libraries self-censored and discarded books en masse to avoid (perceived) nightmares of scrutiny. But I guess they’ve tightened that up. Bill O’ Reilley was among those calling for scaling the law back after two of his book were removed from a school district (haha!).Yet the scale-back, however obviously needed, is to the architects’ (including the governor’s) credit.
“Upside of slavery” has a deliberate rhetorical edge, I admit. But this is the most controversial exact language from Florida’s state-mandated history standards: “slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit”. That’s actually true enough. But in a time where learning how to read while enslaved or teaching a slave to read were both crimes, where Bible lessons with a selective emphasis on obedience were delivered by slaveowners to their human property a wide scale?
That language is offensive as a required part of the lesson(s). It is more fit for graduate students or advanced teenage readers who can read hard texts on their own and absorb the subtler lessons of history and human nature. We don’t need to claim that all slaveowners were pure evil–they weren’t–but we should not require a high school to stipulate that some were relatively, or even profoundly mild and kind. They can show that by mentioning specific instances of masters teaching reading or freeing their bondspeople, as part of a “balanced diet” from the reality of the institution–but that ought not be required.
Some c o n centration camp guards didn’t want to be there, and some were compassionate or generous, when they dared to be. Also, those who survived the camps often had a powerful resilience. But that’s not a gift the 3rd R e i c h deserves credit for–right? Especially in the name of reducing divisiveness in our nation.
You sound less partisan than I’d estimated. I know you are not a lockstep groupthinker or conformist. I could stand to be less partisan myself, but there is a lot of us-vs.-them pressure in both directions. (There I go, blaming the zeitgeist again). I hate that; I wish I were more immune to it myself.
I do admire your determination to keep most discussions civil. I think you’ve helped me to improve a bit in that regard–a work in progress! Please take the last word here if so inclined.

T Bone
T Bone
12 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Cheers.

Teaching nuanced history is very difficult.  I’m sure there aspects of the text that amount to “malinformation.”  So though information may be true, it has the effect of watering down or greasing a narrative to be taken out of context. I’m sure the text has problems as all will.

It’s simply not possible to weed out all bias from historical text.  But bias is generally different from propaganda.  Bias might be caused by selective cherrypicking by individual experts who may value or devalue certain events.  Propaganda is written as revisionist history to effect present day politics.  The 1619 Project for instance was a form of Praxis.  I have no doubt that the 1776 Project contained elements of Patriotic Propaganda as well but most historians seem to agree that it was more rigorous and scholarly than the former.  The 1619 Project was not a serious attempt at History.

The History of the 20th century evil empires was recorded pretty well initially. But I do think revisionism kicked in at some point and clouded perceptions of reality because “whataboutism” was basically barred.  Right-wing authoritarianism has been identified really well but we treat Communist societies (many of which still exist) as just general forms of Authoritarianism without any guiding political principles.  People do not understand Communism well because “Communism” itself is an aspirational state of Utopia.  Since it’s pure form has never been achieved it’s treated almost like a conspiracy theory.  Fasism and Communism are really not all that different in practice.  Neither are the economies.

For instance, hardly anybody outside the Far Left knows what Trotsky was actually promoting.  Hardly anybody knows about Mao’s Four Pest Campaigns. Almost nobody knows about Central and South American Liberation Theology.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
12 days ago
Reply to  T Bone

I know I offered the last word but you said a lot, so briefly:
I agree with most of that. I don’t agree with most of the views or conclusions in the 1619 Project (and I read a great deal of it the NYT).
Encouraging a certain kind of teaching is different than a core standard or required text; the 1619 Project is too biased and propagandistic to be taught to children, especially without a counterbalance, such as the 1776 project. So is some of the language in Florida’s core state standards. (There are additional examples, and yes, they are “cherrypicked”).
I do know a bit about Liberation Theology but now you’ve put another heavy subject on my plan-to-study list: Trotsky and his ilk. Cheers.

Søren Ferling
Søren Ferling
17 days ago
Reply to  T Bone

I don’t want to give guys like Wilson, Dewey, Gramsci and Marcuse all the credit but their intellectual lineage produced quite a system of control.
I mean it’s strong. Critical Theory in particular is difficult to deal with because it is really of a religious nature. It compares everything that exists with an imagined utopia, thereby ensuring that everything that exists collapses with a bang. It means to its followers that a Paradise on Earth is only prevented by our culture, which is why one wants to ‘culturally liberate’ man.
It’s so alluring. One of the bids for a description is to get people to agree to exchange political freedom for sexual freedom.

T Bone
T Bone
16 days ago
Reply to  Søren Ferling

Right on brother. Are you familiar with Paolo Friere at all? I think he really connected the Critical Theorists with Fanon and Sartre. Its one big third world Gnostic Liberation Theology.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
16 days ago
Reply to  T Bone

The utopianism of Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed and the warlike rage of Fanon fit your GLT model, I’d say. Sartre was an existentialist whose thinking preceded Critical Theory proper. A sense of despair and absurdism runs through his work; it may be liberationist to a point, but not utopian.
Foucault and Derrida were of the Cynic’s school, too arch and detached to be either liberationist or utopian. By the way, I’m no big fan of any of the above.
Just a few thoughts. I don’t pretend to be an expert.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
17 days ago

Maybe Obama is running the show. Maybe he’s not. Therein lies the real problem. We really don’t know. A vote for Biden is a vote for who? For what?

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
17 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

A vote for Biden is a vote for more of the same. Who outside of the donor class thinks that is a good idea? Alternatively, it’s a vote against Orange McBadman.

Arkadian Arkadian
Arkadian Arkadian
17 days ago

Interesting article, with the exception of the bit in the middle about native Americans seemingly incarcerated in concentration camps, at least according to the author.

In any case, the question of who is running what really does need an answer, and I don’t think I am a conspiracy theorist.
Even in the UK, who is *actually* running the show? After Johnson’s downfall and Truss’s sudden defenestration, I am not so sure.

J B
J B
17 days ago

Having lived with the Western Apache in Arizona I think the authors’ summation is reasonably accurate (he did not mention concentration camps).
Drink (and now drugs), lost language & culture and isolated communities are a pretty rough deal.
Of course, not all of the the rough hand they’ve been dealt comes from the big bad white man (look up the Apache/Comanche war of extermination). However, it is an area that receives scant attention from the wokeists (unless it’s a condescending 2 spirit sort of woo- woo mention in passing).
Last time anyone near the Executive took the indigenous community seriously was probably Jesse Jackson running in 1984.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
17 days ago
Reply to  J B

I think you’re absolutely right about this, as well as the author. Just seemed out of place for this essay. Really deserves an essay unto itself.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
17 days ago
Reply to  J B

Serious question: Are people forced to live on government reservations? Don’t the individuals you cite have the right of mobility? Why do they stay in these dreadful places?
I went through primary school with a girl whose heritage was Oneida. They owned a house – a few streets from mine – in a Connecticut suburb. Her mom was a housewife, her dad had a job like everyone else’s dad, and she went to college after high school. Why weren’t they living on a reservation in upstate New York?

Arkadian Arkadian
Arkadian Arkadian
17 days ago

This is what I ask myself too.

Warren Francisco
Warren Francisco
17 days ago

I grew up with a friend who is Navajo, his whole family attended our church. His father, who grew up on the gigantic Navajo rez, had a job with Mobil oil. They lived in a nice house near me in the beautiful southern California suburb of Redondo Beach. The father now lives in retirement back on the rez, and my friend lives in the mid-west with a corporate job and a large, happy family. When I recently drove through the entire reservation (it takes awhile!) I was struck by the fact that the people choose to live very far from each other in small pockets. In what the modern world would call primitive circumstances, they all have electricity (and a funny thing: EVERY far flung homestead has a big bright street light on a tall pole) and as many mod cons as they can afford or choose to have.

Arthur King
Arthur King
15 days ago
Reply to  J B

Funny thing. Most german Americans lost their language and assimilated. They are doing well with that good choice.

Paul Melzer
Paul Melzer
17 days ago

Those indigenous who live in this area are all millionaires, made from gambling losses, a lovely comeuppance of a sort sort. The author’s reversion to the old familiar trope of victimhood is lazy thinking.

Arthur King
Arthur King
15 days ago
Reply to  Paul Melzer

Well said. They need victims in order to play saviour

Janet G
Janet G
16 days ago

“who is *actually* running the show?” Find out where the biggest money is and you will discover the answer.

Dylan Blackhurst
Dylan Blackhurst
17 days ago

I know it’s a cliche. But I am constantly amazed at how often conspiracy theories turn out to be true. Biden is just the latest and most obvious example.

The man is clearly not in control of anything. At all.

How did the democrats end up with him as their candidate?! How does that happen?

I suppose now all we do is just sit back and watch as another conspiracy theory blows up in our faces and reveals itself to be true. Take your pick which one. There’s plenty to choose from.

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
17 days ago

The only difference these days between a conspiracy theory and reality is 2 years, and getting shorter

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
17 days ago
Reply to  Susan Grabston

Any shorter than 2 years surely becomes a “Chinese Whisper”where I live (UK). What it’s called the other side of the pond I know not.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
15 days ago

Except this isn’t a ‘conspiracy’, at least, not in anyway meaningfully akin to 9/11 being an inside job, flat earth, the moon landing being faked, aliens in Roswell…etc
The key element of a conspiracy is the idea of a shadowly cabal of individuals keeping an elaborate secret from the general public, usually for nefarious purposes and organised manner. The fact that a politician’s aides and those who support his political party wanted to downplay his negative attributes is not a conspiracy. It’s just PR and partisanship.
When ‘proper’ conspiracies are ‘proved’ true, it’s usually only ever in an extremally watered down, much less sensationalist form e.g. MKUltra was really a series of CIA experiments into brainwashing via psychedelics in the 1970s. But there is no evidence the experiments were effective, and certainly not that the US government is currently brainwashing the masses through doping the water-supply, which is usually the suggestion of the theories. Some nugget of truth gets blown out of proportion by confirmation bias.

Mark Carpenter
Mark Carpenter
14 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Was the Emperor had no Clothes a conspiracy? Because that’s what this was. It has been obvious for awhile to everyone with eyes open that Biden is too old to be president and also obvious that the idea of him running 4 more years is insane and stupid. So it was a conspiracy of stupidity and/or cowardice. Anybody being real about Biden this past year was censored and called right wing. The people who were supporting his run are ashamed of themselves and trying to blame others.

Philip Hanna
Philip Hanna
10 days ago
Reply to  Mark Carpenter

Too old to be president? I know you didn’t mention Trump here, but it’s worth noting that in four years, he will be the same age as Biden currently is, assuming Trump wins in a landslide.
Of course, I do believe that even before Biden’s current term, he was showing signs of senility, but if we are going to mention age, then I think it’s fair to throw Trump into the same ring here.
By the way, I don’t believe there is any reason someone who is healthy and spry at the age of 80 couldn’t be an effective president. It just so happens that Joe Biden is neither of those things, but Trump seems pretty capable here.

Philip Hanna
Philip Hanna
10 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Well said. The comment section on this site is so disappointing to me. The “UnHerd” here just seems to be another Herd, one that (rightfully) is disillusioned with the way things are at the moment, but so biased and cynical that it’s just another little echo chamber on the internet. At least the articles are interesting though, so I’ll stick to those.
As the author pointed out, the phrase “conspiracy theory” has become so watered down, that any idea that goes against the mainstream in any way is dubbed (sometimes proudly) a conspiracy theory. These aren’t conspiracy theories. They are people who are willing to think critically and take time to examine things, and form their own opinions (this used to be called being an adult).

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
17 days ago

The elephant in the room being, surely, Michelle. There’s still time.

Stuart Bennett
Stuart Bennett
17 days ago

If this is as it appears to be the depth of the cynicism is unfathomable. “It doesn’t matter everyone, me, your hero is still running the show”. Absolute contempt for your population.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
16 days ago
Reply to  Stuart Bennett

Good line. Also an evidence-free quip.
It’s true that we can be sure that Biden himself hasn’t been running much of the show for some time now.

Matt Woodsmith
Matt Woodsmith
17 days ago

Excellent piece. I literally laughed out loud at “Joe Biden’s “Weekend at Bernie’s”-style Presidency”.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
17 days ago

Trust in politicians has rarely been lower, but trust in journalists is at rock bottom.
I follow news pretty closely, as do most posters here, so we form our own opinions based on reading multiple sources from across the political spectrum. But most people do not. They turn to their preferred media outlets and rely on them to bring them the news.
Any Biden supporters who have swallowed the lies coming from Kringe Jean-Pierre, will have watched the debate in horror, and realised they’ve been taken for absolute mugs. That those awful “Right Wing Commentators” have been telling the truth all along, whilst their preferred pundits have convinced them not to believe their lyin’ eyes.
Shameless shills, like the cretinous Joe Scarborough who insisted just a few weeks ago that Biden is better than ever (and “Eff you if you can’t handle the truth!), or the even more preposterous Rachel Maddow or Nicolle Wallace – both of whom have continued repeating lies about Trump long after they were disproved – and who run cover for a wholly corrupted Biden administration.
The question the media should now be focused on is one that the rest of us have been asking for a while now.
WHO HAS REALLY BEEN THE PRESIDENT FOR THE LAST THREE AND A HALF YEARS? Because it sure as hell hasn’t been Joe Biden.
Talk of Obama re-treads, unelected cabals of special interests, party insiders and the military industrial complex are the stuff of tin-foil hatted paranoiacs.
But what has, up to now, been airily dismissed by the media as ‘conspiracy theories’ should have more properly been described as ‘Spoilers’.

Duane M
Duane M
17 days ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

For me, the take-home message is that America is run for the benefit of Large Corporate Interests. The idea that “What’s Good for General Motors is Good for America” is long-standing and widely accepted. I have difficulty finding anyone who questions the virtue of a capitalist free-market economy, even among those who question the Citizens United decision made by the Supreme Court, which makes money a form of free speech.

The so-called Department of Defense, which has a budget approaching $1 Trillion annually, is the money source for the military industry that helps keep the US economy afloat through never-ending Military Keynesian economics. And almost every single Congressional district includes at least one major military contractor. It’s an endless feedback loop and there’s no easy way to get out of it without putting the country through a major depression.

It does matter who is elected President. For example, the Affordable Care Act (AHA) of the Obama administration, despite its flaws and weaknesses, has made a big positive difference in the health care of ordinary Americans. The AHA is not much different from Mitt Romney’s proposal and less radical than what Richard Nixon had in mind. Still, it would never have been passed by a Republican President in the 21st century. So there are real differences between the parties.

But when it comes to Big Business interests both parties are fully on board, and no one will be elected who threatens to rock the boat. That is consistent with Obama’s bailout of the large investment banks after the Crash of ’08.

It is not any sort of organized conspiracy that runs the US, but rather an agenda shared broadly by everyone who may have a hand on one of the power levers. In a broad sense, capitalism itself runs the country as a sort of “Ghost in the Machine”.

There will be disagreements about the details of administration, but when you look at the long-term pattern of US foreign policy as an example, there is not much variation from the theme that the US should remain the dominant superpower of the world, just a bit of disagreement about how much force needs to be applied toward that end, and how or where to apply it.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
17 days ago
Reply to  Duane M

But Duane, would you not agree that Trump – whatever his many failings – is the threat to those embedded interests. And it is that, more than anything else, that made him a target for “The Machine”, “The Swamp” or however you want to phrase it, and the Media that complies with its agenda?

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
17 days ago

The author should have put convicted felon in quotes, since the entire charade of a show trial “convicted” him on 35 counts of a non-crime.

As for Obama (who wanted to be a writer?! The guy who never wrote a single article for the Harvard Law review when he was editor? The guy who had his Weather Underground buddy ghost his autobiography?), he’s not running anything, either. That’s what the people who do run this country want us to think. Obama was a nonentity selected by the intelligence agencies because he is mixed race and would be suitably malleable. He’s just their beard.

Bruce Luffman
Bruce Luffman
17 days ago

Spot on but you also add that Obama was just about the most useless US President since Warren Harding. Scored highly as an orator but actually useless without autocue.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
17 days ago

Trump IS NOT a ‘convicted felon’ until his appeals are exhausted. Biden lied but more likely he’s ignorant of the law. And there’s an excellent chance that the sham trial or what was a distortion of the law will be overturned.

Richard C
Richard C
17 days ago

What a ridiculous story on all fronts, what moved the editors to publish this drivel?

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
17 days ago
Reply to  Richard C

Perhaps because they considered that, if true, it’s both interesting and important. Which specific claims do you count as ‘drivel’, and why?

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
17 days ago

“It’s hard to be revealed as a fibber”
Fibber is such a gentile term and suggest minor transgressions that result in little actual harm.
I think you meant “liar”

Mark Phillips
Mark Phillips
17 days ago

Gentile?

Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
17 days ago
Reply to  Mark Phillips

I think he meant “genteel”.

tom Ryder
tom Ryder
17 days ago

A juicy load of dr Fauci’s patented mRNA is the only scientifically accepted way to salvation, get boo$ted!

Kyle Pelletier
Kyle Pelletier
17 days ago

Seems plausible enough. That’s the problem… it’s yet another sufficiently plausible-seeming narrative in a sea of competitive, plausible narratives. I’m sure some of it is mostly-right and other components mostly-wrong. What’s the point? What’s the overall message couched therein? This article strikes me as very Continental, in the sense that Europe is always prosecuting and retrying its own history from different perspectives. It constantly retreads the historical footsteps it imagines it took. I say imagine there because, in a sense, all of history is an imaginative exercise.

No man alive has all of the context from which an objective truth can be gleaned. Anyone who’s trying to divine a “truth” with as much specificity as that proposed in this article should be viewed with a baseline of suspicion. What’s the angle? The historical argument by necessity requires references to history as evidence; therefore, what counter-evidence aren’t they giving you? Why do they want you to buy into their preferred historical interpretation? Sometimes, it’s a fairly simple intuition. For example, when Putin decides he wants to draw from history to argue that Ukraine isn’t a nation, has always been a part of Russia, etc., it’s fairly simple to see his reasoning for it. Articles like this are more opaque.

Regardless, I submit that delving into the Continental hubris of history is a functionally moot activity. There is likely nothing actionable that is grounded in the contemporary problems which drive contemporary issues which can be gleaned from obsessively framing and reframing something so already-nebulous as our national history. There’s nothing to be gained from it; but there sure is a hell of a lot to lose.

Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee
17 days ago

“what remains startling is the seeming absence of any curiosity on the part of the country’s elite about how the country is actually being run”
It’s not startling at all. They’re not curious because they KNOW how the country is actually being run – and they approve and will tell any lie to protect the status quo.

Ardath Blauvelt
Ardath Blauvelt
17 days ago

Interesting point of view. Harsh. Very harsh. Nevertheless, successfully thought provoking. Too soon to say Obama won; Trump isn’t even mentioned and Lincoln was assassinated. Any thoughts on that? If Trump wins and survives, it may be his war on elitism that sets the course, not Obama’s.

Without doubt, western civ is approaching a crossroads, not alone and not for any one reason. For myriad big ones and each one incredibly important. The “battle” is joined. Western civilization across the world is on the line — which includes Israel. Pivotal. It will be hearts vs minds: who do we want to be?

Don’t actually think this is about Obama, even though he does.

Luke Lea
Luke Lea
17 days ago

Dear Ardath Blauvelt: That’s Western civilization with a capital “W” if you don’t mind. It’s a proper name, not a geographical location, whatever troubles our Western civilization seems currently to be in.
We all (not just you) should also remember this: that a culture — any culture — that is not transmitted from one generation to the next will quickly disappear.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
16 days ago
Reply to  Luke Lea

Hey Luke Lea: I agree with you to a significant degree, though I think the decline and potential disappearance of the powerful, globally influential series of civilizations under the Western umbrella has been and will continue to be slow, and probably won’t hold. In other words. the better seeds will sprout healthy growth again.
The West is not one unified or precise societal, intellectual, or ethical inheritance. Why don’t you clarify what it is you think should be transmitted?

Stephen Lawrence
Stephen Lawrence
17 days ago

The author is a writer, I hear – of fantasy fiction ? Pure opinion? I don’t feel like I learnt anything from this article, except perhaps that Obama might be de-facto coming to the end of a third term, an interesting concept worth investigating. Which might be done by an investigative journalist, which I don’t think this writer is.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
17 days ago

This gives Obama far too much credit. The man liked being president; he was a bit less eager to do the actual work. What involvement he has is at the behest of someone else and he works as the conduit between the puppeteers and the cadre of ex-Obama staffers still in the White House. And even if Barack himself is truly in charge, he has not exactly amassed a track record that should enthuse anyone, though it has been effective in achieving the ‘fundamental transformation’ that was promised by the emptiest suit to ever seek the office.

Arthur King
Arthur King
15 days ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Obama was a diversity hire

Adolphus Longestaffe
Adolphus Longestaffe
17 days ago

“Krugman’s fellow in-house NYT author of Soviet state propaganda, Thomas Friedman….”

Huh?
This piece is unworthy of UnHerd. When I came to the bit quoted above, I couldn’t help wondering just who the author was. So I scrolled down and got the answer: not only “a writer”, but one who lives in upstate New York.

Terry M
Terry M
17 days ago

Any comparison of Obama to Lincoln is an obscenity.

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
17 days ago
Reply to  Terry M

Lincoln was a politician just like any other. He wanted to send black Americans back to Africa…and then he didn’t want to…lol

Arthur King
Arthur King
15 days ago
Reply to  Terry M

Not so obscene. Lincoln started a civil war over an issue that could have been handled diplomatically. Britain was ending slave economies through diplomacy. Lincoln was a tyrant. Sic semper tyrannis.

Paul Melzer
Paul Melzer
17 days ago

A good read, save for the paragraph stooping to the popular victimhood trope.

Colorado UnHerd
Colorado UnHerd
17 days ago

This explication of five Republics and Obama as shadow president is fascinating and illuminating. I was a fan of Obama until I belatedly realized his promotion of “wokeism” — especially gender ideology — and Biden’s more aggressive championing of same. If Harris becomes the Dems’ nominee, it’ll be another link in the same unbroken chain.
Thanks for this astute analysis.

Janet G
Janet G
16 days ago

Gender ideology is dangerous and comes down upon us from high places.

Chuck Burns
Chuck Burns
17 days ago

Interesting article, How about adding that the sixth American Republic will be founded by Donald Trump and will be a Populist Constitutional Republic of, for, and by the People!

Luke Lea
Luke Lea
17 days ago
Reply to  Chuck Burns

Wouldn’t it be lovely!

Robert Kellner
Robert Kellner
17 days ago

This is a keeper article.

Duane M
Duane M
17 days ago

“Native Americans lost, and were more or less wiped out, and then confined to miserable reservations in empty parts of the country where they are denied many basic federal benefits, have minimal opportunities for education or employment, and drink themselves to death in large numbers. It is much more pleasant to talk about slavery.”

Ain’t that the truth!

Thank you for an excellent synthesis and concise summary of American political history. Here in the States we’d call it hitting a home run.

Cecilia Kalish
Cecilia Kalish
17 days ago

“After three years of near-total silence,[about Biden’s age and fitness] they
[the press] suddenly can’t stop asking [about his fitness for office].”

I’m sorry, what??? On what planet has the media been silent about Biden’s age and fitness?

Cecilia Kalish
Cecilia Kalish
17 days ago

What a bunch of stuff and nonsense! Anyone who doesn’t understand that reptilian humanoids are running the show is in deep denial of reality. Now, I don’t know if Obama himself is a lizard person or if he is their puppet – maybe both. Biden is not a lizard person but Kamala might well be. And that’s what this is all about. Force Joe to step aside and nominate Kamala. For veep, Michelle (definitely a reptilian humanoid) who will actually be in charge. The woke sheeple refuse to wake up to these facts. They will mindlessly and blindly to the polls go. However, on Sunday, February 6, 2025 AD the truth shall be revealed. But by then it will be too late. We will all be turned into Soylent green to nourish and sustain our reptilian overlords. Er machta ojsiili yyrdiko qainum nin!

Bob Ewald
Bob Ewald
17 days ago

Just my legal pet peeve. I was a career prosecutor in NYS. Until final judgment – sentencing and appeals are finished – he is not convicted. Rather, he stands as found guilty after trial. It doesn’t affect the import of the article but words matter.

Ex Nihilo
Ex Nihilo
17 days ago

Native Americans lost, and were more or less wiped out, and then confined to miserable reservations in empty parts of the country where they are denied many basic federal benefits, have minimal opportunities for education or employment, and drink themselves to death in large numbers. 

There are truths in that statement but the history and current status of the hundreds of Native American Tribes cannot be summarized in one sentence. For example, there are 47 tribes in the state of Oklahoma alone. One of these, the Cherokee,–which has its own government including police and court system— outperformed every jurisdiction in the U.S. in implementation of public health measures during Covid. The Cherokee tribe also operates its own medical school to train doctors. Additionally, the subject of Native America vis a vis the U.S. and U.S. State governments cannot be intelligently discussed without consideration of the SCOTUS McGirt ruling of 2020 which added significant additional sovereignty to the tribes. Finally, according to the U.S. Census, the Native American population grew from 5.2 million in 2010 to 9.7 million in 2020. I do not pretend that these few cited facts in themselves allow for the drawing of any particular conclusions as to the situation of Native Americans collectively nor individually, except to illustrate that the subject is complex and dynamic. It varies tremendously among tribes and regions, confounding oversimplification.

Steven Carr
Steven Carr
15 days ago
Reply to  Ex Nihilo

‘ Finally, according to the U.S. Census, the Native American population grew from 5.2 million in 2010 to 9.7 million in 2020.’
How? Are there really 4.5 million Native Americans under 10 years old?

Ex Nihilo
Ex Nihilo
15 days ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

It has less to do with birthrates than self-identification changes. The biggest component of the change comes from the large number of Americans who are mixed-race Native American. Many of those in times past self-identified as white but now have changed to self-identify as Native American. There are several reasons for that. More people now are attracted to the cachet of non-whiteness for one. But diversity measures in admissions, hiring, and promotions have also incentivized self-identification as Native American, even in some cases–Senator Elizabeth Warren for example–falsely.

Native American identification is another example of the complexity I stressed. In the 19th century the U.S. Congress in the Dawes Act did a detailed “enumeration” of Native American tribes that included blood proportions (full-blood, half, quarter, etc.). To be a citizen of a tribe a person had to prove ancestry from someone recorded in the Dawes Rolls. SCOTUS, in the 1970’s, determined that the various tribes themselves, as sovereign nations, should instead retain the right to determine who the citizens of their various tribes should be using criteria of their choice. Some, like the Cherokee, have kept blood ancestry recorded in the Dawes Rolls as the defining attribute: you must descend from a Cherokee to be a Cherokee. Other tribes retain the right to grant citizenship arbitrarily regardless of ancestry and have granted citizenship status to individuals with no Native American blood or heritage. The latter has been employed cynically in instances where deep-pocketed non-Native Americans saw a means of establishing lucrative casino gambling business as “Native American citizens” on tribal land. It has also been abused by individuals willing to pay large sums to one of a handful of tribes who sell citizenship that can be used to gain the diversity advantages mentioned above.

Andrew Holmes
Andrew Holmes
17 days ago

Wow! I live in an area with multiple Indian reservations and never noticed the barbed wire surrounding them. In that some tribes define membership eligibility as 1/128th tribal blood, it appears that the borders have been rather porous.
No doubt much evil was perpetrated against Indian tribes by Europeans and other Indian tribes. My position is that I believe it’s wrong to treat a people as “little brown brothers” (oops, red), perpetually dependent upon we “superior” peoples’ sympathy and guidance.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
17 days ago

As an Australian we are coping with our own political trainwreck but the situation evolving about Biden makes for a good read..too bad the country is going down the moral gurgler

Obadiah B Long
Obadiah B Long
16 days ago

This article can only be an extremely clever – might I even say devious? – way of saying that Trump is the anointed founder of the Sixth. He was certainly created by Obama, and Obama daily makes him stronger. A brilliant piece, I must say!

Pip G
Pip G
16 days ago

Being British not American means we do not understand all the nuances of US politics, but does give a certain detachment.
Putting aside the partisan, Mr Biden has not done a bad job considering the opposing influences of Mr Trump and the social neo-liberal Squad. Well, apart from the enormous Debt …… He has been a friend of Europe by not being isolationist.
Today it seems Mr Biden does not have the good health needed for another 4 years. He should be given an honourable retirement. Of course the “Who instead?” question is hard to answer.
Equally Mr Obama was not a great president: Exhibit A – Iran.
I liked the author’s “Five Republics” analysis.

Josef Švejk
Josef Švejk
15 days ago

The NYT in future history books will be implicated in the election of Trump in 2016 and possibly come this November. Their promotion of unsuitable candidates in Clinton H. and Biden J. has been barefaced. Too much power concentrated in media is as much a menace on the Liberal side as it is in Murdoch’s stable.

Benjamin Greco
Benjamin Greco
14 days ago

I fear the editors at UnHerd are having a hard time finding good writers, so they have to print fact-free idiotic nonsense like this.

rick stubbs
rick stubbs
13 days ago

This is both LOL and totally accurate. The debate was a “day of dupes” for NYT, CNN, NBC etc. After falling over themselves assuring readers that Biden was an acute, sharp as a tack, executive, the mask unpleasantly slipped. Now it was clear that this was a deception. If the NYT, in 24 hrs, abandons the good ship Biden, a new narrative has begun. Along lines that the WH staff deceived us & you! To save face going forward, the DNC/WH “bad day, no problem” debate spin will receive serious pushback rather than coordinated acquiescence from prior allies. NYT especially has to redeem recently reporting that any video showing Biden faltering or out of touch was a right wing, cheap fake (NYT). It is a new game when media not only abandon but now actively challenge a narrative they long supported. They will try and compensate in other ways but…