Politics and Partisanship: Steve Inskeep On What The 1856 Election Tells Us About 2020

Jan 14, 2020
Originally published on January 14, 2020 12:48 pm

Is it the 19th century all over again? Well, no, in part because we no longer travel mainly by horse and buggy.

But NPR’s Steve Inskeep can make a pretty good case for the parallels. His new book talks about the lives of Washington power couple Col. John C. Frémont and his wife, Jessie. He was the first Republican to run for president in 1856.

Immigration and changing demographics were two big issues at the time. Sound familiar?

Here’s how Inskeep described the takeaways from that presidential election to The New York Times:

What are lessons for 2020? Expect a terrifying year. What drives Americans to extremes is not losing an election but the fear of losing for all time. As Democrats and progressives count on an evermore diverse population to ensure victory, some of President Trump’s supporters foresee permanent defeat. Fox News stokes dread of demographic change with repeated images of migrants climbing fences. The president told supporters as a candidate in 2016 that he was their “last chance” to save the country.

We talk to him about his book and the state of public media.

Produced by Haili Blassingame.


Steve Inskeep, Co-host of Morning Edition and Up First on NPR; @nprinskeep

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