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Both Andrew Jackson, left, and Donald Trump presented themselves as men of the people. Jackson, Library of Congress; Trump, Drew Angerer/Getty Images

All American presidents have made spectacles of themselves – and there’s nothing wrong with that

A president’s persona is always a public act. In that way, Trump's shtick – vulgar man of the people – was not exceptional. And every president has had to invent his version of the role.
It’s a top government job, but what does being vice president mean? AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

What does the vice president do?

The vice president may be second in line for the most powerful job in the nation, but there isn't necessarily a lot to do besides wait – unless the president wants another adviser.
President Donald Trump speaks during a Hanukkah reception at the White House in 2019. AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

How Hanukkah came to be an annual White House celebration

For much of American history, the only December holiday to be recognized in the White House was Christmas, but menorah lightings are now an annual tradition.
Republican nominee Gov. Mike Pence and Democratic nominee Sen. Tim Kaine stand after the vice-presidential debate in Farmville, Va., Oct. 4, 2016. Joe Raedle/Pool via AP

A brief history of presidents snubbing their successors – and why the founders favored civility instead

'Mind your manners' isn't just something your mother told you. Manners – and civility – are an essential component of how things get done in government, and the Founding Fathers knew it.
Voters in Nashville, Tennessee, faced long lines in March 2020. AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

The right to vote is not in the Constitution

The framers of the Constitution never mentioned a right to vote. They didn't forget. They intentionally left it out.
Will Donald Trump peacefully vacate the Oval Office if he loses the presidential election in 2020? The American 1800 election showed that peaceful transitions of power are the result of choices made by individuals. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Would Trump concede in 2020? A lesson from 1800

Throughout the course of American history, peaceful transitions of power have been the result of choices made by individuals, not the U.S. political system. What does that mean if Trump loses in 2020?
Mueller testifies before the House Intelligence Committee. Reuters/Alex Brandon

The Mueller hearing and the death of facts

To one scholar of the post-truth era, tuning in to Robert Mueller's testimony Wednesday was to hear a duel over the facts. Not what the facts imply – but what the facts are.
The Mueller report reveals that Trump and his campaign did all kinds of ethically questionable activities to smear Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election, including asking Russia to hack Clinton’s email. According to Attorney General William Barr, nothing Trump did was illegal. Reuters/David Becker

Trump’s dirty tricks: Unethical, even illegal campaign tactics are an American tradition

Amid all the Mueller report uncertainty, one thing is clear: Donald Trump did some wildly improper things to win the presidency. So did Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, JFK and George W. Bush.

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