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Stephen Mihm

Trump Isn’t the First President to Attack ‘Enemies of the People’

John Adams and his Federalist Party went after immigrants and journalists in the 1790s. It backfired.

Villain of the moment.

Villain of the moment.

Photographer: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

At a news conference last week, President Donald Trump reprised some of his greatest hits: He demonized journalists as enemies of the people and painted immigrants as invaders. And he signaled that he intends to continue these attacks to shore up support among his base.

He should be careful. History shows that such tactics can backfire.