Liberalism Has a Heather Cox Richardson Problem
Many of you, I’m certain, follow the work of Heather Cox Richardson—a historian who rose to public fame by being a daily chronicler of Trump’s legal woes and Trumpism’s assault on democracy. Her public Facebook posts have attracted something like a million+ followers.
She’s a legit historian. In a “You need me on that wall” Colonel Jessup sort of way, I’m glad people like her keep receipts on the minutiae of how Trump chipped away at democracy. And I’m certainly not knocking her hustle—if you can get rich *without making the world worse*, well, I’m jealous.
But that *without making the world worse* clause is really important. What started out for her as cathartically writing through trauma in response to the Trump presidency —she literally co-hosted a podcast in 2018 called Freak Out and Carry On—has morphed over the past couple years into something more troubling.
It’s on display in her recent tweet, below, for which she was rightly roasted by thousands of people who know things about America’s bloody history and present that her own imagery of America elides.
I don’t doubt that she believes what she’s saying. Her first book, after all, was called The Greatest Nation of the Earth.
But this is ruling-class propaganda—not true at all. She’s very much out of her depth pontificating about America in the world. And she has, under the veil of opposing Trump, made herself the voice of the powerful, which is why she gets to go on the talk shows and get paid all the while.
I try to be sympathetic toward shitlib/cringe lib sentiments because 1) I don’t want to live in an illiberal society, and 2) they represent the largest share of the Popular Front for democracy that I’m trying to will into existence. No shitlibs, no antifascist coalition.
And I’m not mad that she supports Ukraine, or that she wants to critique Republicans for opposing support for Ukraine. Those are both reasonable—almost commonsense—positions.
But her rationale for both supporting Ukraine and condemning Republicans lacks self-awareness, and not in a harmless way but in a way that threatens the democracy that she’s dedicated her pen to protecting against Trumpism.
Let me explain.