In American popular culture, there has for decades existed a derogatory and false stereotype of “the Jersey girl.” You can find it as follows at the Google website:
Jersey girl: A woman, usually from New Jersey, characterized as loud and wearing bright clothing, far too much makeup, big hair and oversized gaudy earrings.
This sexist stereotype was enhanced in contemporary American culture by the television series, “The Sopranos” and “The Real Housewives of New Jersey.”
Last week, America became aware of Cassidy Jaqueline Hutchinson, age 26, a Jersey woman through and through. She was raised in Pennington, New Jersey and graduated from Hopewell Valley Central High School in 2015. After her graduation from Christopher Newport University in Virginia, she served in the Trump White House, eventually becoming a special assistant to Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. To put it mildly, Cassidy does not comply with the Jersey Girl stereotype.
There is no question that Cassidy Hutchinson is an authentic, rather than mythical Jersey woman. She stands in stark contrast to the typecast mythical television Sopranos characters Carmen Soprano and Rosalie Aprile. Cassidy presents an appearance of attractiveness without salaciousness and demure, dignified comportment, rather than the Jersey girl stereotype characteristics of meretriciousness and shallowness. Ms. Hutchinson is a most effective refutation of the Jersey Girl stereotype that has been an insult to Jersey women for decades.
And on Tuesday, Cassidy Hutchinson, now a special source of pride to the State of New Jersey, courageously appeared in front of the House of Representatives special committee on the insurrection of January 6, 2021 and told the truth, defying attempts by Trumpworld figures to intimidate her and influence her testimony.
The following testimony of Cassidy stands unrefuted: Trump knew the MAGA January 6 assailants were armed, tried to prevent their arms from being confiscated, encouraged them to march on the Capitol, wanted to go up Capitol Hill himself to lead the MAGA mob, and deliberately took no action for hours to call off the violence.
Because of this unrefuted Cassidy Hutchinson testimony, Donald Trump stands a high likelihood of being indicted by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) under Attorney General Merrick Garland on at least some of the following charges: 1) incitement, organization, encouragement, or promotion of the January riot that enveloped the Capitol; and 2) defrauding the United States through his wide-ranging efforts to overturn the election and to obstruct the congressional proceeding at which the results were to be certified.
Yet for me as an historian, there is even greater significance regarding the testimony of Jersey Cassidy:
I always look for an historical analogy for any situation in which American democracy, independence, and security are endangered. And there is a compelling analogy of Trump and the MAGA mob in their attempted failed coup of January 6, 2021 with the March on Rome of Benito Mussolini’s Blackshirts on October 28, 1922 that resulted in Il Duce and his Fascist cohorts seizing total control of the government of Italy.
Cassidy Hutchinson may not be aware of the facts and circumstances of the March on Rome and its similarities to the Trumpist-MAGA March on Washington on January 6, 2021. I am familiar with the history of Mussolini’s rise to power, and as I listened to Jersey Cassidy’s narrative regarding January 6, I could not help but note its strong resemblance to accounts I have read on the March on Rome.
Since the announcement of Trump’s candidacy in 2015, I have often pondered the question of which authoritarian ruler of the past does Donald Trump most resemble. The works of NYU Professor of History Ruth Ben-Ghiat, author of Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present have firmly convinced me that the precursor of Donald Trump is Benito Mussolini.
Ben-Ghiat has elucidated on the unique similarities between the behaviors of Trump and Mussolini, including relentless disinformation campaigns, celebration of violence against journalists, and incitement of armed militias. The key to ultimately eliminating the danger to democracy of Trump and the MAGA movement is holding Trump accountable for his criminality.
Trump knows this, and he is now involved with his right-wing allies at Fox and Newsmax in a vicious, highly sexist effort to discredit and smear Cassidy Hutchinson. Thus far, Cassidy’s credibility remains intact.
The battle to preserve American democracy will require individuals of heroic character, most notably integrity and courage. Cassidy Hutchinson has demonstrated that she possesses these qualities in great abundance. New Jersey can be well proud of the example of heroic devotion to democracy Cassidy Hutchinson has set for our nation.
Alan J. Steinberg served as regional administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush and as executive director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission.