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Americans are right to wonder if the Great Experiment has failed

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tags: George Washington, Trump, Great Experiment



Heather Cox Richardson is a professor of history at Boston College. Her most recent book is
"To Make Men Free: A History of the Republican Party." The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author.

Americans are right to wonder if, at long last, what George Washington called the Great Experiment has failed, and that our founders have lost their extraordinary wager that regular people could govern themselves better than a few rich men could.

Consider that in his disastrous press conference in Helsinki Monday -- and again in a comment before a Cabinet meeting Wednesday -- President Donald Trump sided with a hostile foreign oligarchy over our own democracy.

Asked by a reporter Wednesday, "Is Russia still targeting the U.S., Mr. President?," Trump responded, shaking his head "Thank you very much. No." (Later, his press secretary, Sarah Sanders, offered that he was saying "no" to answering questions.) 

Trump's alliance with Russia's Vladimir Putin, in defiance of America's own intelligence community, the Department of Justice, and the bipartisan report of the Senate Intelligence Committee, forces us to face that the fundamental principles of our nation are under attack. 

History suggests the game is not yet lost. Three times before, in the 1850s, the 1890s, and the 1920s, oligarchs took over the American government and threatened to destroy democracy. In each case, they overreached, and regular folks took back their government. ...

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