As coverage of the coronavirus streams 24-7 on the airways, updating cases and casualties as well as policy shifts and other breaking developments, it is understandable Americans might find their attention riveted to day to day events linked to the pandemic, making it hard to even think about larger political contexts or issues raised by the pandemic.
Donald Trump has repeatedly expressed an impatience to send Americans back to work and re-open all the businesses currently closed.
“We can’t let the cure be worse than the problem,” he has said repeatedly.
When Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker tried to purchase the protective gear necessary for healthcare workers in his state, the problem wasn’t necessarily that the inventories of the equipment he sought didn’t exist. Rather, the obstacle he faced was that the companies warehousing these supplies were sitting on them, letting a bidding war play out between states and between states and the federal government.
Some of the most recent weeks in American history alert us, if we’re paying the least bit of attention, to the fact that sexism is alive and well, indeed robustly thriving, in U.S. culture and society.
The economic culture in the United States still largely holds to the belief that private industry, guided by the pursuit of private interests and the profit motive, leads to the most efficient and effective economy. Conservatives, of course, cling to this belief on steroids, as is evident in their hallmark platform calling for small government, even no government, railing against bloated government operations and programs such as Social Security, Medicare, national parks, and more. As I’ve written much about lately (here and here, for example), Trump is operationalizing this ideology in hyper-drive, rampantly destroying the public sphere and railing against the public school system as “failing government-run schools,” as he eyes the dismantling of that system as well.
Wise people always remind us to never let a good crisis go to waste.
Wise people with evil inclinations have, of course, taken this sage advice to heart, often exploiting crises, sometimes even arguably manufacturing them, in order to achieve nefarious ends. Naomi Klein, for example, in her 2007 book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, develops precisely this thesis. She studies crises, such as the Iraq War or Hurricane Katrina, as moments when political and economic leaders took advantage of people’s physical and emotional distraction, their fear and vulnerability and desperate need, to push through neoliberal policies that effectively rolled back civil rights and democracy, furthered economic inequality, and basically consolidated power even further in the hands of the few.
As primary election day, March 17, approaches in Illinois, I have been doing some canvassing for a candidate running to keep her seat as a state representative, Lindsey LaPointe. I have known Lindsey for a few years as someone who is active in our neighborhoods (before she took over as state rep), always present around local issues and trying to make life better in our little corner of the world in Chicago. Last fall I attended an event at a local park called “Peace in the Preserves,” and of course Lindsey was there. We fell into conversation, and as a professor at a small state university in the city, I drifted into my usual and somewhat long-winded talking points about higher education funding, pension issues, and so forth.
We hear these days about the importance of the African American vote within the Democratic base, and rightly so. This base has played a key role in the Democratic primaries and, according to all indications, will play a key role in determining the Democratic presidential candidate.
Ronald Reagan notoriously once asked, “Where would this country be without this great land of ours?”
As ridiculous as Reagan sounded asking that question, the question has taken on a renewed seriousness given Donald Trump’s assault on the American land itself and thus, by extension, we Americans who depend on a safe and well-managed environment to provide clean water and myriads of other resources to make our lives possible.
It’s easy to sell people on lower taxes and to encourage people to hate paying taxes. Few politicians, even those who promise to provide health care, better public education, student debt relief, and so on, rarely explain in detail what Americans are getting in return for the investments their taxes fund or the bills they pay.
Arguing to center LGBTQ people in contemporary discussions about, and activism for, civil rights, certainly risks igniting an inflammatory comparative oppressions debate about which groups are most marginalized and under assault in U.S. society.
In his State of the Union address earlier this month, President Trump celebrated the putative success of the economy he claims to have built, doing so in historic terms: “I am thrilled to report to you tonight that our economy is the best it has ever been,” he boasted.
I know facts have a hard time surviving and garnering any credibility in Trump’s truth-free political swamp, but let’s give asserting a few facts at the outset here the old college try.
FACT: Homelessness in the U.S. has increased for the third year in a row under Trump’s rule.
In his State of the Union Address, Trump took a swipe at what he called “failing government schools.”
Most of us use the term “public school” or talk about “public education,” as we refer to institutions set up by, for, and of the people.
The drama of the impeachment of the nation’s president, reports indicate, simply has not captured the interest or concern of the American audience. Apparently the melodrama of daytime soap operas attracts their attention more than the antics of a corrupt president and administration actively undermining the nation’s security for personal gain at the expense of the people’s interests.
Recently Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters for The Washington Post Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig published their assessment of Donald Trump’s presidency to date, seeking to step out of the news cycle and “assess the reverberations” of his administration throughout the nation. Titled A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America, the book layers scene after scene of Trump’s ineptitude, prioritization of self-interest over care for the nation’s well-being, and general lack of any moral compass or intellectual rigor.
In his classic American novel of 1925 The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald crafts the character Meyer Wolfsheim, a Jewish gangster who wears human molars as cufflinks. He is one of the title character’s “gonnegtions” who also happened to have fixed the 1919 World Series and, in doing so, in Fitzgerald’s worlds, “played with the faith” of the American people.
On this day of the 2020 Women’s March, masses of people across the nation will gather and march to call for recognizing the human rights of women as a necessary element of a truly just and equal society for all.
The wealthy often complain when sane and reasonable minds point out the dangers and reality of the obscenely class-stratified nature of U.S. society.
These complaints often find expression in such phrases as the following:
When Josh Jacobs was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the first round of the 2019 NFL draft, he received a signing bonus of $6.7 million. The story of the star running back from the University of Alabama quickly circulated, featured in the headlines in major media outlets such as USA Today, NBC News, ESPN, and more.