Douglas Brinkley - The Rise of Donald Trump

November 8, 2016 - Election Night Special 11/08/2016 Views: 11,740

As the 2016 election results continue to pour in, CNN's presidential historian Douglas Brinkley puts Donald Trump's shocking political ascendency into perspective. (5:09)

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Please welcome Douglas Brinkley,

everybody. Thank you so muchfor being here, Douglas.

Well, this is interesting.

We can only live in the present,we can project the future,

but you are a manwho specializes in the past.

Is there anythingthat can compare

to what we are seeingand feeling right now?

Nothingin recent historical memory

that is, uh,as shocking as this.

I mean, you have to go backto Truman versus Dewey in 1948,

uh, when, you know, peoplethought for sure Dewey had won.

I'm stunnedall the polls are wrong.

I don't know...Everybody guessed this wrong.

It lookslike Donald Trump's won.

And, um,there's really nothing like it,

um, that we can compare it to.It's a... kind of a takeover.

It was the outsiders beatingthe elites.

Even George W. Bushand George Herbert Walker Bush,

Mitt Romney,Republican establishment

really want nothing to dowith Trump, but he won.

Now, now, if you look at thishistorically, though, you go,

uh, people like Reagansurprised everybody.

But is Reagan a fair comparisonto Donald Trump?

Because, I mean, yes,Trump is an outsider,

and Reagan was considered one,

but Donald Trump is,like, an outsider of humans.

-He's an outsider of everything.-(laughter)

Like, has there been a situationwhere someone came in

who was loathed by Republicans,

and then went onto work with them?

No, Reagan was a conservative,

but he had beengovernor of California.

-Yeah. -Trump's been--no public service.

We're dealing with a very kindof dangerous figure coming in.

I mean, it's hard to imagine him

standing and taking the oathof office.

-Oh, but... -'Cause we knowwhere those hands

-have been when he puts themon the bible. -That's right.

-Yeah. -Well, the good news,though, is

Reagan did win in 1980,

and he won by a landslide,and he was a...

But Reagan was an optimist.

Trump's been very pessimisticabout America.

But Reagan did end up defendingSocial Security and Medicare.

He ended up doing the historicarms reductions

-with Gorbachev...-Uh-huh.

...which the left applauded.

He dissed Roe v. Wade,

but never did anythingto undo it.

The point being,if Trump wins tonight,

which it looks likehe's headed to it,

we're gonna have to hopethere's some silver lining,

that Trump's notquite as radical

and unhinged as we think.

But I think history's gonna showthis is Brexit.

Brexit was the warning sign,

this economic populismin Europe, but this is...

Trump warned us.He said

it was Brexit plus, plus, plus.

Yeah, and that's looking likeit may be tonight.

And I don't know what

the stock market's gonna dotomorrow, what the world mar...

People are shattered right nowall over the globe.

This is a bizarre evening inAmerican presidential history.

When you lookat all the knowledge

you possess from the past...

I mean, you teach, as well,you talk to students.

Have you seen any signthat this would come?

Was there any indication thatmaybe polls were off,

or people weren't telling uswhat they were really gonna do?

That's a great question, Trevor.

I remember in the 1960s,Bob Dylan did a song

called "The Balladof the Thin Man" in 1965.

And Dylan said,"Something is happening

"and you don't know what it is.

Do you, Mr. Jones?"

Mr. Jones was the establishment.

Mr. Jones was Lyndon Johnson andMcNamara and the Rockefellers,

everybody, becausethe counter culture had emerged.

The hard right, the alternativeright's the victor here

if Trump wins becausethey stole the counterculture

-gorilla, you know, warfarepress style... -Yeah.

And they went hard Breitbart.

And that was a radical thingto do, so we're kind...

They've kind of stolenthe tricks of the '60s

counterculture movement,

and now it's the hard rightmovement of 2016.

So if you're looking at a trendand you're looking at history

and you're looking at wherewe possibly could go from here

if, God forbid,

Donald Trump were to be thepresident of the United States,

does the Republican Party existthe way it has,

or does it now devolve

into an extreme alt rightpolitical party?

I think it's an extremealt right political party.

I think you have to takeDonald Trump on his word.

I mean, you're lookingat a weird scenario

of people like, uh,you know, Sean Hannity

could be chief of staffin The White House.

You could have Rudy Giulianibeing attorney general.

You could have Newt Gingrichbeing, uh, bec...

Newt Gingrich beingsecretary of state.

I say that because you're goingto have a Republican senate

and a Republican congress.

The main thing is, to... be heartening,

like 2000when Bush won by just an iota.

-Really didn't even really win.-Yeah.

It wentto the Supreme Court 5-4.

But this is a tight election.

This is not wave.This is not a landslide.

Donald Trump did not...

If he wins tonight,this is not a landslide.

It's still pretty neck to neck.

They're fighting over Michigan.

The really story tonight,I think,

is how Trump tookthe Barry Goldwater right,

morphed it with segregationistracist George Wallace views...

-Uh-huh. -...but grabbedRoss Perot's anti-NAFTA.

Perot won 19% in 1992,against NAFTA.

And you're seeingthis play out--

this anti-NAFTA sentiment

that Trump's been able to run inOhio, in Michigan and Wisconsin.

It is a scary story to tell,

and, uh, I guess,we are now part of history.

-Thank you so much.-Thank you, Trevor.

Thank you for being here.Douglas Brinkley, everybody.