Friday, October 23, 2020

Ezra Klein: ‘The Fight Is for Democracy’

Cartoon by Bruce Plante for the Tulsa World
 From Vox:

In American politics in 2020, both sides doubt that abiding by loss is the surest path back to power. This is an election — and more than an election, it is a politics — increasingly defined by a fight over what the rules of the game should be.

Democrats see a political system increasingly rigged against them and the voters they represent, and they are right. They are facing an Electoral College where a 2- to 3-point win in the popular vote still means Republicans are favored to take the presidency. They are vying to win back control of a Senate where Republicans have a 6- to 7-point advantage. The simple truth of American politics right now is this: Republicans can lose voters, sometimes badly, and still win power. Democrats need landslides to win power.

It gets worse. Democrats fear a doom loop. They are faced with the reality that when they lose power, Republicans will draw districts and change rules and hand down Supreme Court decisions that further weaken their voters, that pull America further from anything resembling democracy. Democrats have watched it happen in recent years again and again.... Losing begets losing, because in the American political system, electoral winners have the power to rewrite electoral rules.

But Republicans also see their position as desperate. They know their coalition is shrinking. They know that they are winning power but losing voters. They see a younger, more diverse, and more liberal generation building against them. They fear that Democratic efforts to expand the franchise and make voting an easily exercised right rather than a politically metered privilege will spell their long-term demise. They believe that mass democracy is inimical to their interests, and they state that fact baldly....

America is not a democracy, and Republicans want to keep it that way. America is not a democracy, and Democrats want to make it one, or at least more of one. 


Read the full article.




Thursday, October 8, 2020

It’s International Lesbian Day!


It’s International Lesbian Day (no, really)! As an observance, it’s worth noting that until very, very recently, being a fictional sapphic (non-100%-heterosexually identified) woman on a TV series brought with it an extremely short life expectancy. If a character on a TV show was a sapphic woman, the chances of her being ultimately killed off — by sometimes offhanded means — were enormous. Among cultural critics, this came to be known as “the dead-lesbian trope.” The frequency of this stereotype reached a tipping point a few years ago, and after LGBT+ viewer outrage, TV creators (some of whom are sapphic women themselves) are now making a more concerted effort to see that their lesbian/bisexual/trans characters survive beyond the series finale. 

Still, it’s worth looking back on the U-Haul load of fictional sapphic characters who met untimely ends and brought public dissatisfaction with the dead-lesbian trope to a head.  Starting in 2016 and expanded over the years, the website Autostraddle came up with a list of 212 such sapphic characters who shuffled off their cathode-ray coils too soon.  The article is worth a browse. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Monday, September 28, 2020

Hannah Beech: ‘“I Feel Sorry for Americans”: A Baffled World Watches the U.S.’

Cartoon by Lalo Alcaraz

From the New York Times:

Amid the pandemic and in the run-up to the presidential election, much of the world is watching the United States with a mix of shock, chagrin and, most of all, bafflement.

How did a superpower allow itself to be felled by a virus? And after nearly four years during which President Trump has praised authoritarian leaders and obscenely dismissed some other countries as insignificant and crime-ridden, is the United States in danger of exhibiting some of the same traits he has disparaged?

“The U.S.A. is a first-world country but it is acting like a third-world country,” said U Aung Thu Nyein, a political analyst in Myanmar.

Adding to the sense of bewilderment, Mr. Trump has refused to embrace an indispensable principle of democracy, dodging questions about whether he will commit to a peaceful transition of power after the November election should he lose.


Read the full article.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Barton Gellman: ‘The Election That Could Break America’


From The Atlantic:

There is a cohort of close observers of our presidential elections, scholars and lawyers and political strategists, who find themselves in the uneasy position of intelligence analysts in the months before 9/11. As November 3 approaches, their screens are blinking red, alight with warnings that the political system does not know how to absorb. They see the obvious signs that we all see, but they also know subtle things that most of us do not. Something dangerous has hove into view, and the nation is lurching into its path.

The danger is not merely that the 2020 election will bring discord. Those who fear something worse take turbulence and controversy for granted. The coronavirus pandemic, a reckless incumbent, a deluge of mail-in ballots, a vandalized Postal Service, a resurgent effort to suppress votes, and a trainload of lawsuits are bearing down on the nation’s creaky electoral machinery.

Something has to give, and many things will, when the time comes for casting, canvassing, and certifying the ballots. Anything is possible, including a landslide that leaves no doubt on Election Night. But even if one side takes a commanding early lead, tabulation and litigation of the “overtime count” — millions of mail-in and provisional ballots — could keep the outcome unsettled for days or weeks....

[I]n this election year of plague and recession and catastrophized politics, the mechanisms of decision are at meaningful risk of breaking down. Close students of election law and procedure are warning that conditions are ripe for a constitutional crisis that would leave the nation without an authoritative result. 


Read the full article. 

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Michael Harriot: ‘Why the Democratic Party Needs Thugs’


From The Root:

[A]s a reasonable man with a Democratic Party averse to tearing da club up, when it came time for Obama to appoint a Supreme Court justice in 2016, instead of engaging in a political knife-fight with the Republican Party, he instead nominated Merrick Garland, a reasonable, affable white man with a mouth and toes and a judicial record that was as moderate as it was unremarkable.

As soon as Machiavellian Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell obstructed Garland’s nomination, outraged progressives begged Obama to pull out the chopper and make a recess appointment. But Obama responded with reason, avoiding a heated court battle in the federal courts that weren’t packed with Obama appointees even though the Democratic Party controlled the Senate six of Obama’s eight years in office (Harry Reid, finally invoked the nuclear option in late 2013, giving Obama one year to appoint federal judges).

The Democratic Not-So-Ruff Ryders also refused to use the debt-ceiling fight as leverage a month after Garland’s appointment was tossed into political purgatory. It wasn’t that the Democratic Party was afraid to go toe-to-toe with Republican obstructionists. Democrats pride themselves on governing with a sense of compassionate practicality. And, like most practical, compassionate Americans, they avoid conflict, as opposed to the conservative Killmongers on the other side of the aisle who long for the opportunity to take the throne on Challenge Day.

But that challenge shit is over. Trump’s the king now.

And now, in the wake of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s untimely passing, Democratic historical revisionists are pointing to the hypocrisy of the GOP after it burgled Garland’s Supreme Court seat. What the GOP did to Merrick Garland is shameful. It was wrong. Anyone who purports to believe in the Constitution should regret doing it (as if the GOP is capable of feeling shame, regret or...well, anything). But progressives have conveniently left out one part in their recounting of the Democratic fight for Garland’s nomination:

They didn’t fight!

Read the full article.