If Trump thinks artists are a problem now, just wait: Why history tells us the fight ain't over

It is all too easy to follow the dollar when considering the White House budget proposal to eliminate our national endowments for the arts and humanities. As has been pointed out everywhere, the money is negligible. Were the president to move his wife and son to the White House and spend his weekends in Washington or at Camp David, the public would probably save more in security costs for Trump Tower and Mar-a-Lago than the $300 million or so the government spends on the NEA and NEH.

The arguments that even this pittance (a fraction of what France, Germany and Russia provide their citizens) has significant financial returns and generates jobs have long fallen on deaf ears. Indeed, does that extra money spent on security for the president go more for overtime than new jobs, especially considering the current desire to shrink government?

The administration simply sees the arts and humanities, like the press, as a threat. And it’s not wrong. The arts community overwhelmingly seems to disapprove of Trump, as does academia. So why not defang your enemy with the purse strings? Here’s why.

If President Trump thinks he’s got a problem with artists and academics now, just wait. Incensed artists and college professors are not to be messed with. No one can stir up revolutionary furor like artists and educators. Trump is old enough to remember how effective culture and colleges were in turning America against the Vietnam War and ultimately bringing down a president. Pop culture had a lot to do with it, of course, and that pop culture has become legitimized thanks to Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize for literature. 

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Chris Alexakis