"I did something good: I made Juneteenth very famous. It’s actually an important event, an important time. But nobody had ever heard of it."

Yes, Trump said that.*

Yes, it's hyperbole. The "nobody" is outrageous and false. It gets your attention, and it increases the power of his fame-making machine, further inflating the importance of Juneteenth, and further connecting it to Trump, where it never belonged before.


*Link goes to Jonathan Chait at NY Magazine, quoting this WSJ interview. Chait:
... Trump has caused more people to become aware of Juneteenth, just as he has caused more people to become aware of the 25th Amendment, the Emoluments Clause, narcissistic personality disorder, “democratic backsliding,” the two-thirds threshold required for impeachment, and other concepts that had largely been excluded from daily news coverage. This has not been an era of progress. But it has been a time of enlightenment.
What's "democratic backsliding"? I don't remember hearing that phrase before. I see it has a Wikipedia entry:
In political science, democratic backsliding, also known as democratic erosion or de-democratization, is a gradual decline in the quality of democracy.... Political scientist Nancy Bermeo has written that blatant forms of democratic backsliding such as classic, open-ended coups d'état and election-day fraud have declined since the end of the Cold War, while more subtle and "vexing" forms of backsliding have increased. The latter forms of backsliding entail the debilitation of democratic institutions from within....

Beginning in 2017, political scientists identified the United States under President Donald Trump as being in danger of democratic backsliding. In a 2019 journal article, political scientists Robert C. Lieberman, Suzanne Mettler, and others wrote that Trump's presidency presented a threat to the American democratic order because it simultaneously brought together three specific trends—"polarized two-party presidentialism; a polity fundamentally divided over membership and status in the political community, in ways structured by race and economic inequality; and the erosion of democratic norms"—for the first time in American history. Lieberman et al. noted that Trump has "repeatedly challenged the very legitimacy of the basic mechanics and norms of the American electoral process, invoking the specter of mass voter fraud, encouraging voter suppression, selectively attacking the Electoral College, and even threatening to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power" and noted that "Never in the modern era has a presidential candidate threatened to lock up his opponent; castigated people so publicly and repeatedly on the basis of their country of origin, religion, sex, disability, or military service record; or operated with no evident regard for facts or truth." In 2020, political scientists Alexander Cooley and Daniel Nexon, wrote that "the Trump administration has consistently de-emphasized the importance of human rights and democracy in its rhetoric and while adopting language and tropes similar to those of right-wing, illiberal movements." Colley and Nexon cited Trump's praise of autocratic rulers, his echoing of ethno-nationalist rhetoric, his efforts to deligitmize journalism and journalists as "fake news" and his policies erecting new barriers to refugees and asylum-seekers as similar to politics "found in backsliding regimes."

The 2019 annual democracy report of the V-Dem Institute at the University of Gothenburg found that the U.S. under Trump was among the world's liberal democracies experiencing "democratic erosion" (but not full-scale "democratic breakdown"). The report cited an increase in "polarization of society and disrespect in public deliberations" as well as Trump's attacks on the media and opposition and attempts to contain the judiciary and the legislation. The report concluded, however, that "American institutions appear to be withstanding these attempts to a significant degree," noting that Democrats had won a majority the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm elections, which "seems to have reversed the trajectory of an increasingly unconstrained executive."

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