History Exposes the Fraud of Marco Rubio's PopulismRoundup
tags: conservatism, political history, populism, Marco Rubio
Sean Wilentz teaches at Princeton University and is the author of, among other books, The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln.
“I’m not a scientist, man,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) once told an interviewer. He was evading a question about creationism and how old planet Earth is. “I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that,” he said.
Now Rubio has disclosed that he’s no historian, either.
The senator, up for reelection, has adopted a familiar tactic by expressing his contempt for American historians who recently met with President Biden to put current events into historical perspective. According to Rubio, those in attendance, including myself, are “elitists” and “snobs.” According to his account of our conversation, for which he obviously was not present, we urged the president to stop allowing “working everyday people and their common sense” to “play a role in our decision-making.”
In fact, much of the historical discussion with the president involved exactly the opposite, including how to address issues that affect the hard-working American majority and how to overcome polarization.
Historians have long chronicled the deliberate manipulation and falsification of events for political purposes. Rubio’s version of what happened in the meeting stands in the sorry tradition of the great propagandists. He maligns independent thinkers and fabricates what they say to depict them as enemies of the people.
The danger is twofold. Rubio has contributed to a culture of fakery for easy political profit that plays upon suspicion and fuels the current atmosphere of incitement.
Secondly, Rubio strikes at the very idea of American history itself. What makes studying the history of the American people “elitist”? And why wouldn’t we want all our presidents to seek a stronger grasp of the past as they wrestle with our future?