In The Shadow of Statues book by Mitch Landrieu

"There is nothing the country is experiencing today that we in Louisiana haven't seen or faced in the last 30 years," writes New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu in his powerful new book, "In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History."

Landrieu made national headlines with his 2017 decision to remove statues of Confederate leaders Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and P. G. T. Beauregard from the streets of New Orleans, which was the America's largest slave market.

His book also deals with equality and the state of race in America. He draws parallels between the rise of ex-Klan wizard David Duke in Louisiana during the 1990s and Donald Trump.  

Duke ran for Louisiana's Senate seat in 1990 and for Governor in 1991. 

Landrieu recalls how Duke, "who wanted welfare mothers to be inoculated with birth control serum" and would celebrate Hitler's birthday each year, proclaimed to be a born-again Christian due to opposition to abortion. He won the support of Evangelical voters.

Landrieu, a long-shot candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, writes:

"In those years, Louisiana politics demonstrated the raw susceptibility of voters, particularly Evangelical Christians, who rallied behind David Duke—trailed by TV spots exposing his Nazi beliefs—as a would-be defender of human life.

"It is the same phenomenon that allowed Christians in 2016 to support Donald Trump, despite the women who accused him of sexually assaulting them, after the "Access Hollywood" video in which he bragged about groping women, using words that TV networks bleep out.

"Have we gotten to the point where winning is everything? It is clear there is a deal with devil, where morals, personal responsibility, or principles are secondary to election wins."

In the current age of disinformation, according to Landrieu, journalism operates in a digital stratosphere with few restraints and with easily doctored images that distort information.

He notes that spin-doctors, who used to work to shape public opinion, have been "subsumed by con artists on social media, or even Russian manipulation. This is an atmosphere in which demagogues thrive."

The people of Louisiana saw it all coming years ago. "When people are scared and hurting, when jobs are drying up and they get angry, and a demagogue arises pointing the finger at black and brown people—blame the other—it takes a counteroffensive not just to expose the lies but to offer people hope and a belief in the better impulses of democracy.

"When the truth is lost, the battle to fill that vacuum is a sinister spectacle and a struggle from which good people can never call retreat," writes Landrieu.

Duke lost his Senate and Governor races partly because the national Republican party disavowed him and tacitly backed his Democratic opponents.

Republicans had a backbone during the 1990s, which is missing today.