FDR used his understanding of history to advance liberal democracy. Trump uses historical ignorance to advance demagoguery. To succeed, both leaders depend on the acceptance of their ideas by a more-or-less informed electorate. Are we now finally experiencing what Francis Fukuyama famously called the “end of history” in 1989? Will historical ignorance—rather than the end of ideology—spell just the opposite of what Fukuyama predicted—the demise of western liberal democracy?
About the speaker: CYNTHIA M. KOCH is Historian in Residence and Director of History Programing for the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Foundation at Adams House, Harvard University. She was Director of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York and subsequently Senior Adviser to the Office of Presidential Libraries, National Archives, Washington, D.C. From 2013-16 she was Public Historian in Residence at Bard College, where she taught courses in public history and Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. Her most recent publications are “They Hated Eleanor, Too,” “Hillary R[oosevelt] Clinton,” “Demagogues and Democracy,” and “Democracy and the Election” are published online by the FDR Foundation http://fdrfoundation.org/.
Previously Dr. Koch was Associate Director of the Penn National Commission on Society, Culture and Community, a national public policy research group at the University of Pennsylvania. She served as Executive Director (1993-1997) of the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and was Director (1979-1993) of the National Historic Landmark Old Barracks Museum in Trenton, New Jersey.