The stories we tell ourselves, especially the ones we tend to repeat over and over and that circulate throughout our political and cultural discourses, matter. They impact us. They carve neural pathways, so to speak, in our collective cultural mindset, in our political nervous system. They set expectations for us about the future, map out and set the course for our imagination of possibilities, preparing us for, priming us to accept, some future outcomes more than others. In this sense, they can make us feel powerful and hopeful or demoralized, powerless, and anxious.
American romantic poet, philosopher, and diplomat once referred to the U.S. Constitution, in an address to the Reform Club of New York in 1888, as “a machine that would go of itself.” More precisely, in using this phrase, he meant to diagnose a dangerous complacency infecting American political life, one born of the misguided belief that the Constitution itself provided a powerful enough governing framework to keep the American democratic system from ever derailing.
Polling indicates that Americans still give Donald Trump an edge over Joe Biden when it comes to their faith in either candidate to manage the economy.
While it’s true that, according to a late-August Reuters/Ipsos poll, Trump’s approval rating on the economy has dipped 14% since March, putting him in negative territory with 47% approving and 48% disapproving of his management of the economy, voters nonetheless see Trump as a better bet when it comes to serving their economic interests—despite the fact that the same poll revealed that 58% of respondents believed the economy was on the wrong track.
The American people, polls indicate, have not been buying the bill of goods Donald Trump has been selling in his strenuous attempts to represent himself as the “law and order” candidate. They seem to understand Trump is the creator of chaos and the one disrespecting and defying the nation’s laws at every turn, not Biden.
If you were able to subject yourself to viewing any portion of the Republican National Convention, you surely must have noticed that the image of Donald Trump’s administration portrayed by the loud array of speakers, often Trump’s own family members, was to anyone even casually observant of U.S. politics the past four years, largely at odds with the reality we experienced.
The narrative Trump and his Republican allies have been weaving about his managing of the U.S. economy is that he had presided over, if not himself built, the strongest economy in the nation’s history and that it was only slowed by the coronavirus outbreak, which was not his fault.
Donald Trump has repeatedly declared himself the “law and order” candidate, wearing this mantle proudly. At last week’s Republican National Convention, the array of speakers trumpeted this slogan again and again as the dominant chord of Trump’s otherwise ill-defined policy platform.
Is Trump the 2020 candidate who best represents the American working class? Did the Democratic Party fail to encompass working-class interests, issues, and people at last week’s convention?
What does the working class think?
Recently prosecutors handling the charges against Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite accused of aiding and abetting billionaire Jeffrey Epstein in his years-long systematic sexual abuse and trafficking of young girls, denied the request of Maxwell’s lawyers to turn over the names of her accusers.
Republicans continue to block legislation to provide relief to tens of millions of Americans as well as the state and local governments that provide services and employment to them. Their hand-wringing, it seems, is rooted in the worry that providing relief, such as extending enhanced unemployment benefits, will eliminate any incentive, or coercion, for people to seek employment and return to work.
We often define culture as a “way of life.” Implicit in this definition is the notion that culture should support and value human life.
It makes sense, right? A “way of life” promises, in its very language, to support living, not promote dying.
As is now widely known, the Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton recently proposed legislation that would deny federal funding to schools that in any way used the The New York Times controversial 1619 project in its curriculum. This series in The New York Times, of course, explores the history of the United States through the lens of slavery, premised on the fact that accounts of slavery have not been expansively, roundly, and fully incorporated into accounts of U.S. history, particularly in its earliest stages. Nikole Hannah-Jones, the project’s creator, has been awarded a Pulitzer Prize for her commentary on the series, and the Pulitzer Center and The New York Times have since collaborated to create a curriculum based on the project which schools can now adopt.
The Black Lives Matter movement, in demanding that we reconsider how Black lives have been valued, or rather de-valued, in U.S. culture, society, and political economy, essentially asks us as well to interrogate our entire system of economic and cultural values.
When Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took to the House floor last Thursday to address the widespread sexism at work in the halls of Congress and deeply embedded in American culture and society, she had to suspect her remarks would garner some media attention.
Are the majority of Americans lazy and averse to work? Would they prefer not to work and to enjoy a free ride from the government?
How we answer this question, or how congressional leaders answer it, has a lot to do with what is really life-or-death legislation coming out of Washington, particularly with regards to COVID-19 relief packages.
This unfortunate and hopefully soon-expiring moment in U.S. history, Donald Trump’s presidency, has been anything but subtle in summoning the worst energies, impulses, and dimensions embedded in the nation’s history and still animating contemporary culture and politics.
The Lincoln Project republicans came out in full force last December, declaring in a New York Times op-ed their mission of defeating both Trump this November as well as Trumpism, meaning they are seeking to erase the republican majority in the senate.
I always find it worthwhile to try to understand those with whom I most disagree and to decipher the experiences and psychologies animating their belief systems. It helps me understand why the world is the way it is and why it’s not the way I’d like it to be. And also what I need to address in seeking to transform the world. Transformation tends to begin with understanding others, not just dismissing them.
As many have pointed out, making Black lives matter is a precursor to making all lives matter. To make all lives matter, we have to address the ways certain lives, particularly those of people of color in the United States, have been devalued. Put another way, we can’t create a culture and society that values all lives unless we identify and root out the mechanisms and value systems that have been enabling the devaluation, the differential valuing, of particular groups’ lives.
Many Americans have been compelled by the recent mass protests to seek a fuller understanding of United States history and particularly the African American experience in that history, up to and including ongoing racism, discrimination, and violence against people of color. Black bookstores in particular are being flooded with orders for literary works that portray African American experiences, historical studies that chronicle U.S. history from an African American experience, and books that offer sociological analyses of race and racism in the U.S. Even Amazon Prime created a category featuring films and television shows about African American life, culture, and history.