A century apart, two American presidents faced a world spinning out of control. One was a builder and the other a disrupter. But they have more in common than might be expected.
In most ways, Woodrow Wilson and Donald Trump could not be more different. Wilson was a man of faith, a Ph.D. who wrote books and lectured widely; as president, he oversaw the greatest progressive reform in history. Trump is a hedonist and subliterate boor who seeks to strip away any program that serves people in need or common concerns like the environment or global warming.
But the parallels are striking too. Both experienced periods of physical and mental instability that made close observers wonder whether they should stay in office. Both were prone to fits of temper and conspiracy theories. Both demanded absolute loyalty—and exiled those who spoke their minds. Both complained about entrenched elites conspiring to sabotage their world-changing agendas. Frustrated with the tedious bargaining in Congress, both took refuge in the roar of the crowds at rallies and parades.