Why Republicans Don’t Care About What History Thinks of Them: “History Is Bunk”

by Bob Schwartz

“History is more or less bunk. It’s tradition. We don’t want tradition. We want to live in the present, and the only history that is worth a tinker’s damn is the history that we make today.”
Henry Ford

Republicans today don’t believe in history, any more than they believe in government or journalism. They don’t believe in historians, any more than they believe in civil servants and journalists. And they are confident that much of the electorate doesn’t believe in these either.

That’s why suggesting to Republicans that history will judge them harshly makes no difference to them, falling on deaf ears. They continue to subvert conventional regard for institutions such as government, education and journalism. Convincing people that history and historians can’t be trusted and have little to offer doesn’t seem that hard to them.

Republicans are probably not right about the whole of the citizenry. Historians are already quick-reviewing the current era in an unflattering light, and numbers of people are paying attention. But if Republicans are right about a substantial portion of the citizenry, that people are ignorant and skeptical of history, and don’t really care what historians say, that unflattering light may get much darker.