Heather Cox Richardson: Could America Survive Another Trump Presidency?


Town Hall was packed for Blogger/Professor Heather Cox Richardson’s talk on her new book, Democracy Awakening. The author is an optimist about democracy, even in this troubling moment, because our system of freedom has already survived critical challenges, from slavery and Civil War, to a Depression and Jim Crow. Democracy for Richardson, a history professor at Boston College and a much-read blogger, is as ever a running contest through history to keep its promise alive.

She suggests one answer — especially apt in this discouraging American hour — to re-establish a reality-based community, a conversation based on facts, on a reasonably common narrative. Tough, however, in a time of “alternative facts” and willful purveyors of distortion.

Asked directly if democracy itself would survive another Trump presidency, she answered no, in part because of his announced plans to end civil service protections — what she calls the essential ballast in a democracy. But over time, Richardson also argues, democracy will survive. She said, “America is not great, not yet, but the blessing of our inheritance is that it can be.”

Some last lines in her new book: “So far, the hopes of our Founders have never been proven fully right. And yet they have not been proven entirely wrong. Once again, we are at a time of testing. How it comes out rests, as it always has, in our own hands.”

Mike James
Mike James
Mike James was a long-time anchor newscaster at KING TV.


  1. The article title asks “could America survive.”

    At Town Hall, she was reportedly asked “could democracy survive”, and she answered “no.”

    But “over time”, she says democracy will survive.

    I guess you had to be there.

    • She was asked if democracy could survive a Trump presidency. The direct answer was no but long range, after Trump, etc., she argues that democracy is resilient enough to rebound. Didn’t have to be there to get the point.
      Is it resilient? Depends, as her book’s closing suggests, on us.

  2. Fans of her writing should check out her Substack posts – several new entries each week – very thoroughly researched and often including a big serving of history.

  3. Her history of the Republican Party, To Make Men Free, grasps the genus of its beginnings and the highs (Lincoln, Roosevelt & Eisenhower) and the lows (McKinley, Reagan & Trump). An exceptional read.

  4. When people of the Left bandy about the term ‘our democracy’ (note the use of the possessive personal pronoun ‘our’), that’s code for ‘progressive authoritarianism,’ right, because its diktats are nonnegotiable? Moreover, personal political philosophies have become such inviolate belief systems not unlike those demanded by religious canon.

    As Samuel Mace observes “For many of us, philosophy and politics move beyond the merely academic. They become a part of us — almost akin to a permanent pair of clothes. We show our politics to others, and it wounds us deeply if someone criticises us or even changes sides. Our principles matter to us . . .” (https://thecritic.co.uk/what-does-philosophy-matter/)

  5. It is very challenging to get true believers at either end of the political spectrum to agree on a simple fact. Was the 2020 election rigged against DJT? Despite mountains of evidence to the contrary, anywhere from 60 percent to 70 percent of Republicans and Republican leaners persist in believing that Biden is illegitimently elected. Social scientist Peter Dittoj, PhD, at UC Irvine, says: “It takes more information to make you believe something you don’t want to believe than something you do.” When people fiercely believe something to be true, facts make hardly a dent.


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