In 2021, who are we — and is the constitution a suicide pact, or not?

Living under Donald J. Trump, you’re forced every day to wrestle anew with the claim “This is not who we are.” If this is who we are — if bigotry, hatred, and violence are so central to America’s DNA that we cannot change — then Donald J. Trump is the most American president we’ve ever had. Then all is already lost and we may as well give up and leave, assuming someone else will have us.

That cannot be the whole story of America. But it is a continuing thread of American history that never fully disappears, and sometimes dominates the American experience. It dominates today. This week’s attack on the Capitol is an exact descendant of the white riots in Tulsa a century ago, the destruction of Reconstruction by evil mobs and venal politicians a few decades earlier, and of course the genocidal slave state secession of 1860 that never carried its flag of treason into the U.S. Capitol until this very week. It is founded in the white supremacist demand that this is “our” country and nobody better dare to “take it away from us,” through the ballot box or any other way.

Those who squawk loudest about America’s heritage are the same people who are most determined to ignore or learn from our history. Still, we must learn from it. And if this is one deep part of “who we are,” the question is: how do we change? Societies do. Not often, but sometimes after there’s enough trauma they decide to move forward. It means facing one’s past, but it also means doing what the Germans did after World War II: saying we simply will not give these evils the oxygen to spread. We just won’t.

In America right now, that means aggressively prosecuting people who conspire to commit or incite violence. It means tracking and infiltrating their groups to make sure they can’t do it on the larger scales they’re so obviously planning. It also means firing people, suing them for libel, encouraging private corporations to deplatform them, and canceling their book contracts. Understanding the risks involved, I’m now for all of that.

Let’s be clear: nobody who voted for a President who calls the free press “the enemy of the people” actually cares about free speech anyway. More precisely: they only care about theirs, not yours. They want the license to lie, spread hatred, shout fire in crowded theaters, and carry guns to intimidate you and your elected representative government. In all this, they are the precise descendants of those who murdered the Black citizens of Tulsa, Oklahoma and overthrew the elected multiracial government of Wilmington, North Carolina. They will do it again. They’re itching to.

The old cliche “the cure for bad speech is more speech” is now demonstrable nonsense. Therefore I’ve changed my mind. I used to be with the radical Justice William O. Douglas. Now it’s the more conservative Justice Jackson whose dissent in Terminiello v. City of Chicago resonates with me: “The choice is not between order and liberty. It is between liberty with order and anarchy without either.” The Constitution, whatever its authors’ flaws, is not a suicide pact. Saving this country means stopping those who aim to destroy it.

The dark art of camouflaging an agenda

I have seen this strategy before, and it disgusts me.

Look at this ad, plastered at the top of my newspaper today, and tell me your reaction.

If you’re a liberal/progressive/Democrat like me, you probably think: “That SOB Trump! Of course he’s screwing up the COVID vaccine!”

And who is “Future Majority, Inc.? Well, it’s a huge pro-Democrat secretly funded PAC, and you go to their website and it sure presents as progressive and liberal:

But what is really going on here, and what are you really being asked to do?

What is the Trump “Most Favored Nation” (MFN) executive order these folks hate so much?

It is a demonstration project in which Medicare would compare what Americans are paying for drugs with the far lower prices paid by Europeans and citizens of other advanced economies, and attempt to make sure we don’t pay more than they do.

It’s just about the only thing the Trump administration has done that might someday lower drug prices — assuming that it can survive a healthy dose of typical Trump administration incompetence.

It only affects Medicare Part B (e.g., things like on-site infusions). Not the bigger Part D. And, again, it’s only a demonstration project. But it’s a foot in the door. It just might, someday, conceivably, maybe, lead to serious limits on out-of-control drug price increases here in America.

So, of course, PhRMA, the massively well-funded lobbying apparatus for the U.S. pharmaceutical industry, despises it.

But what about the folks at Future Majority, who seem so wonderfully concerned with expanding Medicaid and getting PPE to healthcare workers, and making sure Trump doesn’t foul up COVID vaccines?

What’s their story?

Do you think even 1% of the people who see this ad will understand who they’re being asked to ally with, and for what policy goal? Do you think they’ll understand even if they check out who Future Majority seems to be?

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This isn’t the first time I’ve seen something like this. Back in 2017, when we in New Jersey were still ruled by Trump ally and traffic-jam-creator Chris Christie, the phone rang here… and when I picked up, I was patched into a call that talked about all the horrible stuff Christie and Trump were doing to destroy Obamacare.

Heck, they even had Donna Brazile on the line!

But gradually it dawned on me that the public policy action they were supporting had nothing to do with saving Obamacare from Big Bad Trump. They were riling us up to help them shoot down Christie’s plan to take a huge pile of surplus cash that Horizon Blue Cross had accumulated, and apply it to mental health and addiction services.

Who, I wondered, was ultimately paying for that astroturf campaign?

And would the people of New Jersey be better or worse off if they succeeded?

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I am a Democrat, and I still believe if we are ever going to have major progress in this country, the Democratic Party will have to be a key part of making that happen. Nearly all the public officials I admire are Democrats. People who happen to be Democrats are doing a whole lot of great things to make this country a better and more humane place. And, as far as I can tell, 99.99% of the time, Republicans are doing the exact opposite.

I also realize the Democratic Party has no choice but to be a pretty big tent.

Tragically, certain Democrats take that as license to help giant healthcare corporations preserve every dime of their profits, however acquired. (It’s safe to assume there’s money in that line of work.)

This is bad. But to mobilize support for those causes by camouflaging them as progressive and anti-Trump? That seems to me despicable.

Do these folks attend parties where they mournfully wonder why people don’t think the government will ever be on their side? Do they wonder why people are so cynical? Do they ever look in the mirror?

Many Trump supporters believe all 9 predicates to mass political murder

Millions of Trump supporters already believe all 9 claims they’d need to believe in order to support genocide — or, more likely, an American civil war with enormous numbers of politically-motivated murders:

  1. Democracy is rigged, the other side always cheats, and the norms of a democratic political system offer nothing of value. Even with no substantive evidence of voter fraud, and even though many of their other candidates won, they’re absolutely convinced that the Presidential election was stolen from them. Trump’s claims have been repeatedly debunked, yet it merely strengthens the conviction that there’s “no way” Biden won. Dead people must be voting. Millions of counterfeit mail-in ballots must be getting accepted by corrupt election officials. Their enemies are just really good at hiding the evidence… or all those judges and Republican politicians are in on it… or something.
  2. Since democracy is rotten, we need a strong leader who fights, even if some people get hurt. Without a leader who imposes his will, all is lost. If democracy stands in the way of their goals, it can’t be tolerated. If elections are lost, the wrong people have been permitted to vote: that needs to stop. Mussolini, Franco, Turkey’s Erdogan, Hungary’s Orban, Brazil’s Bolsonaro, the Philippines’ Duterte, and America’s Trump all share the same style and have attracted the same types of supporters. It’s no wonder Erdogan, Orban, Bolsonaro, Duterte, and Trump all see each other as friendly allies.
  3. Anyone who suffers is to blame for their own misery. Children in cages, some lost to their parents forever? It’s 100% the parents’ fault, and 0% the fault of the people who ordered their caging and separation. There’s no such thing as “systemic racism”: if Black people just cooperated with the police, they’d never have any problems. Whatever actions are taken by “our” authorities are necessary. Anyone who disagrees is a hypocrite, or worse. (“Who built those cages?”)
  4. Things used to be better, but we were betrayed, and we know who betrayed us. We hear: We were happy and comfortable once in our own country. Now we aren’t. It’s someone else’s fault. The Nazis thought Jews, the liberal intelligentsia, and the leaders of the democratic Weimar Republic had sold them out. In their view, those people polluted the German nation with alien blood and ideas, and needed to be punished for it. Today in America, some of the enemies are different. But many are the same. That’s why white nationalism and neo-Nazism are spiraling out of control, and it’s exactly why so many right-wing extremists wear MAGA caps.
  5. Our enemies are so dangerous that we can’t afford mercy. Maybe they’re running global pedophile rings out of the basement of a pizza parlor — who really knows? They’re probably sending hordes of antifa to chase us down. They intend to deny us our faith and way of life. When push comes to shove, if they’re allowed to be in power, they’re a mortal threat to us. (“Just look at how they’re making us wear masks: they’re even taking away our right to see each others’ faces — it’s all about control!”) Above all: it’s us or them, and soon it’ll be now or never. All that is exactly what the Nazis told Germans about Jews — even Jewish children. As Claudia Koonz’s book The Nazi Conscience shows, the Nazis had to spend several years teaching their society to overcome the natural human desire for mercy. Right-wing media has already taught precisely the same lesson to millions of our fellow citizens. And if Fox News won’t be fierce enough, plenty of even less scrupulous alternatives can cash in by pumping out even purer versions of what they want to hear. 
  6. You can’t believe a word of the “mainstream media.” The Nazis, echoed by Trump’s circa 2016 alt-right supporters, used the term “lügenpresse”: the “lying press.” Trump’s own preferred term of art, borrowed straight from Stalin, is “enemy of the people.” Trump’s supporters don’t claim that “the media is biased so we need to consume their coverage judiciously.” Rather, they make the blanket statement that everything it says, no matter how well sourced — even if it’s based on official documents or the actual statements of their own leaders — must be false. Of course, this is cult behavior. But beyond that, once people decide in advance that it’s all a lie, they shut off the best way to discover that a leader is abusing power. He can do anything he wants, confident that they’ll never believe anyone who criticizes him. What’s more, if someone they’ve trusted does criticize him, they’ve joined the enemy—and can no longer be trusted.
  7. Our enemies are part of an enormous, immensely powerful conspiracy. Epidemiologists. Climate scientists. Vaccine researchers. The intelligence, FBI, and military establishments. Democrats. The media. Jewish billionaires. The list just keeps growing. Now it even includes Republican secretaries of state who deny the election was stolen, and Republican governors who aren’t ready to steal it for Trump themselves. When it’s pointed out that no conspiracy this immense has ever existed, and that it would require skill and coordination far beyond the capacity of human beings, the argument is either ignored or interpreted as still more evidence of how dastardly this is. 
  8. Force isn’t a last resort anymore. If a teenager brings a high-powered weapon to another state, carries it into the middle of a dangerous situation, and uses it to murder two of his political opponents, many Trump supporters glorify him — and glorify his mother who transported him there. (“Hey, someone has to have the courage to defend us!”)
  9. It’s not a big deal if hundreds of thousands of people die. In 2020, a whole lot of people learned to believe this by minimizing COVID and interpreting basic public health precautions as intolerable tyranny. 275,000+ Americans are dead and it means almost nothing to them. Maybe there aren’t really so many victims! Many they’d have died anyway! (“George Floyd tested positive!”) Maybe they had comorbidities! Maybe old people should sacrifice themselves for the economy! All those “maybes” come down to the same thing: those deaths really didn’t matter. People who think this way won’t suddenly start caring when the pandemic ends.

“Dead Democrats” and “Good Germans”

In July 2020, Trump retweeted a video arguing that “The Only Good Democrat is a Dead Democrat.” We’ve had bigoted, viciously partisan, dishonorable presidents before (of both parties). But no American President ever did anything like that. Even during the Civil War, Lincoln told us “we must not be enemies, but friends.” Obama aimed for conciliatory rhetoric resembling Lincoln’s; Biden does, too. It only seems to make Republicans hate them more.

We look back at the kinds of things that were said in the run-up to the Rwandan massacres of the 1990s. We always shuddered to imagine hearing them here. Now we are. Yet I know not one ordinary Trump voter who objected to that tweet. None who said Enough, this far and no further. I cannot accept this. Millions of Trump voters personally know Democrats they recognize as decent people. Family members. Friends. Colleagues. And yet they stick with Trump as he happily imagines them dead.

(Don’t remember that tweet? It just slid by you, amongst Trump’s unrelenting oceans of sewage? OK, my Trump-supporting friends: now that you do know, which garbage rationalization will you serve up? “He didn’t actually tell people to go kill Democrats”? “It was all just a joke, you have no sense of humor”? “Take Trump seriously but not literally”? “Retweets don’t count”? Please. Have some self-respect.)

Of course, Trump has said plenty of equally vicious things about other people besides Democrats: just listen to him single out and savage Somali refugees trying to build a new life for their families in Minnesota. After five years of this, when people say Trump “tells it like it is,” make no mistake: they mean to proudly own their full share of all of this.

Millions of Hitler-era “good Germans” went along, chose to ignore evil, or flat-out supported the Nazi regime. They felt Hitler was serving their interests and fattening their bank accounts, and hey, what did democracy ever do for them? If Trump supporters are ever faced with a similar choice, many will behave as badly, or worse.

I’m sure of it now, because I’ve watched how — for millions of them — the people they hate have already slipped from human beings to less-than-human abstractions. That‘s what Trump deliberately did with Mexicans, and Muslims, and Somalis, and now Democrats. It worked, it works, and it’s happening right before our eyes, just as it did under Hitler, and in Rwanda. 

Most white middle-class Americans still don’t believe it can happen here, because we’ve been blessedly spared these horrors in our neighborhoods, in our lifetimes, in our parents’ lives. But if someone already believes that democracy is worthless… anyone who disagrees is lying… their enemies are evil, and immensely powerful… you’ve been betrayed and will be destroyed if you don’t act first… victims deserve it… peaceful means may no longer be enough… the rhetoric of violence and death is OK… real mass death is fine, too…

then what more would they need to believe to accept mass murder? 

They certainly have their target: Democrats, a.k.a, “the left.” (If it wasn’t clear before, it’s now obvious who millions of Trump supporters hate most: not non-whites, but liberals.)

The rot is far deeper than we realized. In my own suburban, cosmopolitan community, the Republican candidate for U.S. Congress — someone my family actually knew — chose to welcome the support of far-right armed militias. In the 1930s, the Nazi German-American Bund never controlled one of America’s two great political parties. But their modern equivalents have already gained effective control of the Republican Party in much of the United States. The GOP’s Bushes are gone, its Romneys are marginalized, and its McConnells still see advantage in promoting far-right extremists, exactly as the wealthy conservatives of late-Weimar Germany did.

Some people think: well, let’s just split into blue and red nations and go our separate ways. But red states have blue college towns, blue states have red rural districts; red and blue ZIP codes abut each other; millions of neighbors line up on opposite sides. If an American civil war ever comes, it’ll involve neighbors. And, as has so often been true elsewhere, those with the most guns and the most readiness to enforce their views will be the worst of us

If Biden successfully takes office, the danger may briefly recede: those who aim to destroy American democracy will lose control of the executive branch, and will need to fall back on their growing but still inadequate capacities to organize action via immature channels like Parler and OAN. But Biden still hasn’t taken office yet. It’s easy to imagine events or provocations — real or hallucinated, it obviously doesn’t matter — that could trigger catastrophe. 

We know now that Trump isn’t going anywhere. And events are moving faster than we want to realize; in the two weeks since I first drafted this, much of what first sounded alarmist has come to sound plausible, or even self-evident. (Did we all expect 80%+ of Trump voters to consider Biden’s win illegitimate or fraudulent? Did we all expect his former National Security Advisor to encourage him to declare martial law?) 

If our democratic republic does survive this moment of danger, it won’t be the last. Just as I’d ask Trump’s supporters: Exactly what would stop you from supporting mass murder? I’d ask Trump’s opponents: What do you think will prevent it? 

It’s time to start working on a better answer than “It couldn’t happen here.”

9 reasons I’m FOR Biden, not just AGAINST Trump

I see it on Facebook all the time: “Why are you FOR Biden? Is it more than just that you hate Trump?” Well, OK. Here are 9 of the reasons I’m FOR Biden:

1. Climate. Biden will attempt to make significant progress on climate change, which is coming whether we act or not, but will be even worse if we keep avoiding action. Hotter climates increase crime, move tropical diseases north in our direction, make more of the world unlivable, increase pressure to migrate, and destabilize international relations, making war more likely. Insurance companies understand this. It’s starting to significantly affect coastal real estate markets. Defense and intelligence planners know all this very well. As a society, we need to start acting on reality. We owe that to our children and grandchildren. That’s one reason so many of them are voting this year.

2. Pandemic. Biden will manage this pandemic better and prepare more effectively for the next one — and there will be a next one. Biden he is surrounded by people who respect science, and his Chief of Staff will likely be Ron Klain, who understands these issues intimately from his highly successful experience as Obama’s Ebola czar. Last year, months before COVID happened, Biden warned Trump that he was degrading America’s preparedness for pandemic. Biden was right.

3. Environment. Biden’s EPA will protect the environment instead of looking for reasons not to. For example, he is far likelier to strictly regulate fine particulate pollution that kills children, raises rates of pulmonary disease, and appears to increase miscarriages among women who desperately want their babies. This pollution disproportionately affects the poor, who don’t have the power to prevent filthy and dangerous facilities from being sited near them. Biden understands this issue and is likelier to do something about it. In other words, unlike the current administration, he recognizes that all lives actually do matter.

4. Healthcare. Most western countries have found ways to make sure that every one of their citizens gets decent and timely healthcare. America has not. The number of uninsured people dropped by nearly half under the Obama administration, but we have begun to see higher death rates and higher infant mortality rates in Republican states that refused to accept Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. I’m for Biden because I want those people to stop dying. Uninsured rates appear to be rising again, and it is crucial to reverse this. Even Biden’s more moderate plans will do so. (And, yes, Trump really is trying to end Obamacare’s protections for preexisting conditions, with no plan to restore them. It’s true whether you believe it or not.)

5. Families. Families need more support, and free markets just don’t solve the whole problem anymore. That means, among other things, we need more federal support for childcare and education (of all kinds, not just universities). Biden has a record of supporting this, in contrast to the current administration.

6. Justice. Biden is the only candidate running who understands that people different from himself also have legitimate grievances. For example, he has relationships with both police and black activists. He has made mistakes along the way on these issues and seems to have learned from them. (I like candidates who learn and grow from the experiences they have in life.) I think Biden understands that every citizen of this country is entitled to be safe, but every citizen is ALSO AND EQUALLY entitled to be policed fairly and with respect, not as if they are occupied by a foreign army. I think Biden understands that white suburbanites like me can pretty well count on getting both safety and respect from law enforcement, but America often forces black citizens to choose one or the other (at best). When even the conservative Black Republican Senator Tim Scott, one of the most respectful individuals anyone will ever meet, reports that he was stopped for no reason by law enforcement 7 times in just one year, that should raise alarm bells for every one of us. So, too, when Black people are persistently stopped in their cars far more than white people, but the racial differences decline at night when cops can’t see who’s driving – that’s a BIG problem. Biden would be likelier to try to find fair and reasonable solutions that offer liberty and justice for ALL.

7. Service. I’m hopeful that Biden would give more of us, and especially more of our young people, an opportunity to do patriotic civilian service for our country. As we learned in World War II, nothing strengthens a country’s unity more than bringing different kinds of people together in a cause bigger than themselves. Throughout his career, Biden has been supportive of Americorps, and he has recently discussed opportunities for Americorps to help Americans suffering from the pandemic. The Obama-Biden administration expanded Americorps, and key supporters like Pete Buttigieg have been even more focused on national service. I admit: I don’t know if Biden will grow national service as much as I would like. But the current administration has attempted to eliminate Americorps altogether, and I believe Biden’s policies would be a dramatic improvement.

8. Inequality. The more unequal a country and society become, the harder it is for ordinary people to get a voice in how it’s run. We become less democratic. We become more like a classic 20th century oligarchic banana republic, where a few people have all the wealth and power, and enforce their advantages with guards and violence. Most Americans don’t realize just how unequal America is. Biden’s tax and spending policies would help soften this inequality without delivering anything like “socialism.” This would be a dramatic improvement over the current administration, which pushed through a tax bill that delivered 23% of the savings to the top 1% and nearly half to the top 6%. (There are other ways of measuring Trump’s tax cut that say it’s even more unfairly tilted to the rich. I’ve tried to use the numbers that looked best for Trump.) Inequality manifests itself in all kinds of ways. For example, millions of Americans, including a whole lot of U.S. military servicemembers, have found themselves trapped in an endless cycle of high-interest loan payments to abusive payday loan companies. The Obama-Biden administration created new rules to protect those people; Trump eliminated those rules. Biden would likely bring them back. I prefer Biden’s approach.

9. Respect. Last but not least, Biden has a record of civility and respect. He has not been perfect; you can find examples of him being rude on the campaign trail. But, overall, across a nearly 50-year career, he has sought common ground instead of inciting anger and division. I know that means he’s not always going to satisfy me. I think you need two sides to negotiate, and I don’t think Mitch McConnell will negotiate with him in good faith. HOWEVER, it’s a chance I’ll take, because if we stay on our current path, our children will be fighting a neighbor-against-neighbor civil war. None of us can want that.

Now that I’ve written this, I’m hopeful the Trump supporters I know will be ready to hear my answer to the second question I hear them ask so often about folks like me: “Why do they seem to hate Trump so much?

I’ll try to answer that question next.

Point of no return

I woke at 4 a.m. last night with the kind of thoughts that make it hard to fall asleep again. You can’t trust late-night thoughts. You need to test them against the daylight, especially before you share them. So I did. They haven’t changed much.

I fear that over the past couple of days, we Americans may have crossed a Rubicon, passed a point of no return.

Many of our friends and neighbors had already decided that nobody other than themselves had any real legitimate grievances; that those grievances were simply hypocritical excuses to pick their pockets by making them feel guilty; that they were beset everywhere by tyrants.

That’s been going on for decades. But if you’re on Facebook or watching Fox News, you know something just changed. Millions of people have now concluded that “the left” and “anarchists” must be stopped by any means necessary, immediately, because if they aren’t stopped, society will be destroyed.

I think they’re wrong on all counts, but that is not my point.


My point is what it means our friends and neighbors will now accept, support, and enthusiastically cheer on.

They’ve gone beyond “law and order.” They want “order,” period.

Because “law” means that police aren’t judge, jury and executioner. And “law” certainly means that 17-year-old vigilantes with powerful weapons can’t be judge, jury, and executioner. All that is the exact opposite of “law.”

Tucker Carlson told millions of people, in essence: What do you expect? Kyle Rittenhouse saw that others wouldn’t do the job, so of course, he took it into his own hands. And there was an eruption of support for both that statement and for the murderer himself.

Yes, we do have our pro forma printed statement from the Trump campaign condemning violence and praising the police for (eventually) arresting Rittenhouse. But we wait in vain to see Trump condemn Rittenhouse with the passion he brings to things he actually cares about. And so, last night in New Hampshire, he attacked protesters with quintessential Trumpian gusto, but spoke not a word about the individual who chose to murder them.

But what did you expect? After five years of watching Trump, absolutely nobody on the far, far, violent right believes Trump isn’t on their side. And did you expect him to condemn someone who sat adoringly in the front row of a Trump rally? Someone who clearly loves him? The FBI and Homeland Security recognize the growing danger of far-right domestic terrorism, but Trump erupts in rage whenever anyone raises the idea. He thinks they’re implicating him. And so they are.

Conventional politicians have always brought passion and clarity to condemning all violence. You can debate how a politician like Biden condemns it; or whether he should ever discuss the causes or grievances associated with it. But, for several decades, almost all of America’s leaders — certainly all our Presidents — have always condemned all riots, murders, assassinations, loudly and in person. Until now. At this moment in our history we have a President who believes: the more we hate each other, the more we fight with each other, the better it is for him.

It’s really just the climax of how Donald Trump has always lived his life, operated his organizations, run his family. It’s a clarifying moment, if we needed one.

It means we’re on our own, and that includes you and me. We no longer have the luxury of thinking someone else will help calm things down so we can talk productively together and make progress towards justice.


To me, these events feel like a major step towards the destruction of our democratic republic. Because millions of conservatives have concluded that their adversaries have already destroyed it; that they are personally in grave danger as a result. So whatever experience the McCloskeys “objectively” had (it seems like they were never in any danger), whatever experience Rand Paul just “objectively” had (when a furious crowd is screaming at you at night on a city street it’s perfectly fair to be freaked out), those experiences are being shared as proof our enemies will stop at nothing.

Once you believe that, you’re ready to conclude that laws, norms, elections, and judges won’t protect you. After all, “they” will steal elections (who needs evidence? Trump says so.) Maybe they really are running secret global pedophile rings that only Trump can stop. They are damn well trying to control you by making you wear a mask.

Given those premises, you’re ready to support anything that’s done in your name. It’s all your adversaries’ fault and only raw power, guns, will protect you.


Four years ago, there was a legitimate debate over whether there were lessons for us in the rise of Hitler, and America’s own close call with fascism during the Great Depression. Conservatives could say: you’re imagining the threat. You called Bush a fascist, you called Reagan a fascist, you’re the boy who cried wolf.

That doesn’t fly anymore. There are millions of Americans who feel like Hitler did when he invaded the Soviet Union: the whole structure is rotten, so just kick in the door and destroy it. There’s nothing of value left to preserve in those institutions. And we didn’t start it.

Most liberals have heard the warning of Bush speechwriter David Frum that “if conservatives become convinced that they cannot win democratically, they will not abandon conservatism, they will abandon democracy.” The same goes for conservative views of “republican” institutions and values, which – if they’re about anything at all – are about avoiding the cult of one powerful leader who must be followed at all costs.

Can anyone argue that most conservatives still object to “Il Duce” or “Führer”-style politics on principle? There isn’t even a Republican Party platform this year, except We Support Trump.


This is where you arrive when you have two groups of people who have lost whatever ability they previously possessed to speak with each other. Two groups who no longer share facts, or media sources, or realities. It’s where you arrive when people no longer see any humanity in those who disagree with them. (And, yes, where there are immense profits to be made in dehumanizing others. That should never, ever be forgotten.)

It’s also where you arrive when lots of people are passionate about destroying things, and very few are passionate about saving and building on things that might actually be made to work. (I see unrelenting death-cult nihilism on the American right. But I’m well aware that they see it on the left.)

This is how civil wars happen, and make no mistake, if we have one, it won’t just be regional: “oh, just let the red and blue states each go their own way.” Because the blue states are 40+% red and the red states are 40+% blue. We share neighborhoods. We share families.

People say you can’t have a country if you don’t have borders. You also can’t have one if people despise each other as much as they do now. (Increasingly, we’re seeing that you can’t have businesses, or schools, or much else, either.)

I am, quite obviously, not immune from this pandemic of hatred and contempt. 

I’ve been reading contemporaneous writing about what it felt like to live in Germany in 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935. Living through a moment in time, one cannot know the future. One can’t know when one has crossed a Rubicon, some event horizon you can’t return across. Still, I know the cliché: history doesn’t repeat itself, but sometimes it rhymes. I recognize this rhythm, these angry voices.

Things are moving fast. Faster than I realized; faster than I think you realized.

I believe, if we do still have a chance to turn back, we must all do it now.

Please spend some time reflecting on how horrible it can get if we don’t.

Against conspiracy thinking

I have come to realize that conspiracy theories and conspiracy thinking are as dangerous to us as any virus or any politician.

I say to epidemiology conspiracists and deniers the same thing I say to climate conspiracists and deniers: What if 98% of the scientists who’ve spent their entire professional lives studying this are right, and you are wrong? What would be the implications of that? What would be your moral responsibility?

“Questioning” is an inherent good only if you are prepared to carefully assess the answers. And in the case of epidemiology, that requires detailed knowledge most of us don’t have.

There is nothing more seductive than the notion that “Anyone with common sense can see [x]… and since the professionals don’t see it, they must be part of some conspiracy.”

But your “common sense” isn’t nearly as good as you think it is. Common sense tells you the sun travels around the Earth: all you have to do is look!

Just because someone’s been thrown out of the medical or scientific establishment, that does not mean ipso facto that they are a brave truth teller.

It might conceivably mean that. It’s certainly happened that way on occasion.

But far more often it has meant they were just incompetent, or dishonest, or wrong, or self-deluded.

Implanting goat gonads did not restore guys’ sexual potency.

Laetrile did not cure cancer.

Even though a doctor said so. And even though the medical establishment disagreed.

There are scores of cases like this that have just faded into history. People forgot them. So people didn’t learn the lesson that a lot of “fringe” ideas are just “bad.”

So, too, not everything that happens is the result of a conspiracy. And people who choose a scientific or medical career that requires them to spend a lifetime working on problems that are wickedly hard don’t usually do it either for profit or secret power.

There would be way easier ways for smart people to achieve those goals than as CDC pandemic researchers or as NOAA climate researchers.

 

Most people don’t want to die. But parties occasionally commit suicide

I’m beginning to think something politically cataclysmic may be happening out there.

It’s easy to look around and see huge turning points everywhere. Usually they don’t turn out to be quite so transformative. Political events that look enormous while they’re happening often don’t seem quite so important a few years later.

But right this moment, I think older Americans might just be weakening their attachment to Donald Trump and perhaps the Republican Party as a whole. And that would herald a titanic shift in American politics.

Perhaps I am making too large a claim based on too little data. I especially worry because I know the power of motivated reasoning. I think the Fox News/Alex Jones-driven modern incarnation of the Republican Party has been a profoundly destructive force in American life. I desperately want it to lose, badly and repeatedly, until it either reforms or disappears. That gives me plenty of reasons to succumb to wishful thinking. Especially since the Republican Party’s dark resilience has repeatedly stunned a whole lot of smart people.

But consider this:

In mid-March, seniors were more supportive of Trump than any other age group (plus-19 net approval). Now, their net approval of the president has dropped 20 points and is lower than any age group outside of the youngest Americans.”

“Those findings were matched by a new NBC/WSJ poll, which tested the presidential matchup between Trump and Joe Biden. Among seniors 65 and older, Biden led Trump by 9 points, 52 to 43 percent. That’s a dramatic 16-point swing from Hillary Clinton’s showing in the 2016 election; she lost seniors by 7 points to Trump (52-45 percent).

What is going on here? I think it is as simple and primal as it gets. People don’t want to die.

Older people have come to realize that they are, by far, at the highest risk of dying from coronavirus. By now, they’ve seen the statistics. They are, many of them, well aware of their own personal comorbidities and risk factors. For them, more than for many other Americans, coronavirus is profoundly personal and frightening.

I know full well that millions of Americans over 65 still work. But, even now, 80% don’t. They know, intellectually, that lots of people are struggling mightily because they aren’t earning income right now. But, in judging the balance between reopening the economy and protecting human life, they balance the equities rather differently. By a six to one margin, they want life and health prioritized over the economy. Whether they’re right or wrong, they’re human: how could they not?

They are watching closely. They know Trump didn’t take coronavirus seriously enough upfront. They might have forgiven him for that, recognizing that lots of people didn’t take it seriously, and even leaders who did have suffered serious human losses (though some have done way better than the United States).

But they’re watching and they don’t think he’s taking it seriously enough now.

They can see he’s just raring to get the economy running again. To a lot of them, he looks like a guy who understands (and cares about) money, and doesn’t understand (or care about) health, even if he thinks he’s some kind of medical genius.

And they also know the loudest voices in the Republican Party and conservative movement are pushing him even harder in the same direction. Some of them are even organizing rallies to break quarantine and violate stay-at-home orders.

Trump’s LIBERATE MICHIGAN LIBERATE MINNESOTA LIBERATE VIRGINIA tweets got noticed – and not in the way Trump would have liked. The flagrant indifference and occasionally stunning ignorance served up by Trump-friendly Republican governors like Ron DeSantis and Brian Kemp is getting noticed nationwide. Older voters are hearing a lot more from the ascendant parts of the Republican Party that are furthest out of the mainstream, and a lot less from the thoughtful, cautious DeWines and Hogans. And they don’t like what they’re hearing.

People don’t want to die. Is that so complicated?

Sarah Palin and the Republican Party understood this brilliantly a decade ago when they conjured up Politifact’s “Lie of the Year”: that Obamacare was going to create mandatory death panels for seniors. It was, of course, garbage. But it drove millions of older Americans hard to the right, and it had a lot to do with the Democrats’ catastrophic 2010 election results, in which Republicans grabbed Congress and state legislatures, letting them gerrymander districts in ways that radically overrepresent Republicans even today.

They might have been able to do it again this year, by claiming that Democrats’ Medicare for All would undermine conventional Medicare.

But they can’t do that now. They have powerfully rebranded themselves as a party that is far too friendly to death, and far too willing to sacrifice seniors – not in the abstract, but right now.

My old friend Mark is likely right that we can’t keep printing and borrowing money forever. At some point, we’ll probably have to allow Republicans to kill more people like myself and my wife. At some point, it may be necessary to save what’s left of the economy, and prevent other deaths of despair along the lines of what happened in Russia after the Soviet Union collapsed.

The question is: when have we reached that point? Right or wrong, most Americans – and especially most older Americans – don’t think we’re anywhere close right now. And a lot of them are pretty horrified at just how eager Republicans seem to be to endanger them sooner than necessary.

Purely from a political standpoint, I think this is pretty amazing. But in the Trump era, Republicans have gotten awfully careless about their coalition.

They don’t hesitate to position coronavirus as the “Chinese virus,” even if Asian Americans experience more hate crimes as a result. It’s as if they don’t think they need any Asian-American votes.

They don’t hesitate to welcome state bankruptcies or the demise of the post office. It’s as if they don’t think they need any votes from retired public workers who’ll lose their pensions. It’s as if they think they can afford to lose votes from rural communities who’ll never be served as well by FedEx as the USPS serves them today.

They don’t hesitate to permit the collapse of whatever remaining walls exist between the official Republican Party and right-wing militias, gun absolutists, and white nationalists. It’s as if they don’t think they need any votes from upscale suburban women.

Trump has made them think there’s an endless supply of non-college white males and conservative white evangelicals; between that and voter suppression, they can keep winning that way.

Well, maybe they’re right. On the other hand, though, parties do commit suicide. The Democrats did it in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They have paid dearly; they are paying even now.

At some point, Republicans will knock one too many Jenga blocks out of their coalition, and it will fall. For the Republican Party, older voters are the biggest Jenga block of all. And I think that just might be happening.

John Prine helped make me a better man

John Prine died this evening. Complications from coronavirus.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long time, I may as well write it now. Have you ever heard a song that made you a better human being? Or at least gave you a fighting chance and a stronger motivation to become one?

In my late teens and early 20s, I heard a few songs like that, and they’ve stuck with me all my life.

One is John Prine’s: Angel from Montgomery. Like a lot of people, I first heard Bonnie Raitt’s version. But the lyrics, written from the point of view of an older woman with the fiercest of longings and regrets: how could a man, and one as young as Prine was then, have ever written a song like this? It’s as if it was one of those pieces of art channeled through the artist by something supernatural:

…And there’s flies in the kitchen

I can hear all their buzzin’

And I ain’t done nothing since I woke up today

How the hell can a person

Go to work in the morning

Come home in the evening

And have nothing to say

 

Make me an angel

That flies from Montgomery

Make me a poster

Of an old rodeo

Just give me one thing

That I can hold on to

To believe in this livin’

Is just a hard way to go

I had no idea, none, how horrible it would be to be in a marriage with someone who just wasn’t there. To wait for someone to come home and then get nothing from him.

Until I heard that song.

And the moment I heard it, I knew instantly: that guy she is singing about could be me. I had it in me to do that to someone. If I was ever fortunate enough to find the right woman who would marry me, I was going to have to work really hard, constantly, to overcome the parts of me that would come home in the evening and have nothing to say.

I do not know if I have succeeded. Well, I sort of do know. I haven’t succeeded nearly as well as I should have. But I would have been a whole lot worse if I had never heard John Prine’s song. So, John, Godspeed tonight — and, John, thank you.


The second song I believe made me better: John Fogerty’s Someday Never Comes. It was Creedence Clearwater Revival’s very last single, when that great band was falling apart. I sometimes fear this song has mostly been forgotten. But not, not ever, by me.

Fogerty sings of a young boy whose father left him, with no reason that made any sense:

First thing I remember was asking papa, why,

For there were many things I didn’t know.

And daddy always smiled and took me by the hand,

Saying, someday you’ll understand…

 

…Well, time and tears went by and I collected dust.

For there were many things I didn’t know.

When daddy went away, he said, try to be a man,

And someday you’ll understand.

 

Then the singer tells us he has his own son. And he, too, leaves:

…Think it was September, the year I went away,

For there were many things I didn’t know.

And still I see him standing, tryin’ to be a man,

I said, someday you’ll understand.

 

Well, I’m here to tell you now, each and every mother’s son,

That you better learn it fast, you better learn it young,

‘Cause someday never comes.

That song came out when I was 16 1/2 years old. I was blessed to grow up with parents in a good and stable and loving marriage. But I also grew up in the early 1970s, when marriages left and right were falling apart, and that was no longer going to be a given for myself or the people around me.

John Fogerty’s song made me know, really know, for the first time, what it would be like to be that child whose father was going to go far away, for reasons that could never be fathomed. For the first time I thought about how one man’s personal decision could ripple through the generations and hurt people who weren’t even born yet, and wondered what had made him do what he did.

And as soon as I heard it I knew I was going to have to do the very best I ever could never to be that father in that song.


The third song is a bit more popular and maybe more familiar, at least to people of my generation: Desperado, by Don Henley and Glenn Frey:

…Now, it seems to me some fine things

Have been laid upon your table

But you only want the ones that you can’t get

 

Desperado, oh, you ain’t gettin’ no younger

Your pain and your hunger, they’re drivin’ you home

And freedom, oh freedom, well that’s just some people talkin’

Your prison is walking through this world all alone

 

…Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses?

Come down from your fences, open the gate

It may be rainin’, but there’s a rainbow above you

You better let somebody love you (let somebody love you)

You better let somebody love you

Before it’s too late

I heard that song at a very lonely time in my life. And it crystallized for me the changes I was going to have to make if I was going to survive. And it took me a long time and it was very hard, but I did, and I have. And I do truly believe that song helped me get there.

It’s obvious that all three of these songs were about the same thing. Connecting with other human beings, being there with all of yourself, no matter how hard that seems. It didn’t come naturally for me, and like all of us, I’m still very much a work in progress, with a long way to go and not enough time to get there. I guess I always will be. But I’ve had a lot of help. You. Mom. Other people around me.

And, yes, also, the powerful gifts of those three songs, given to me when I most needed and could benefit from them.

I wish you songs like that.

On naming viruses in America

As if we needed any more evidence as to how divided we are, here is the President of the United States taking a Sharpie to his March 19, 2020 briefing notes to make 100% sure he calls it the “Chinese virus” rather than the “coronavirus”:

trump sharpie

We all know people who think this isn’t just perfectly appropriate but imperative. While other people – like me, and most of the global public health community – object pretty strongly to that choice of language.

Trump and his supporters see those objections as nothing more than political correctness. And a great deal of unproductive yelling typically ensues. So I want to explore this in a bit more depth – but no, I don’t pretend to be at all dispassionate about it.

To the extent that one could be dispassionate at a time like this, one would probably start by comparing the reasons to avoid the term with the reasons to use it. Then one could make a judgment about whose set of reasons are more compelling.

So, let’s begin with the reasons to avoid the phrase.

First: we’ve already seen physical violence and verbal abuse against Asians based on the raving imaginations of idiots who blame them for the spread of the virus here. It seems likely that the wider use of the phrase “Chinese virus” will make those kinds of events more common, just as there’s some evidence that the president’s ascendancy and approach to his job may have promoted increased incivility and bullying in schools.

For many of us, this is more than enough reason to stick with coronavirus or COVID-19. Others, admittedly, seem far less troubled by real or potential bigotry against America’s 3.8 million citizens of Asian descent, or against other Asians who happen to live and work here. I’m more accustomed to the indifference of many of my fellow citizens to bigotry than I was four years ago. But I don’t like it one bit more than I did the day Trump first rolled down his escalator.

If the encouragement of bigotry weren’t enough, there are also the concerns of global health professionals, whose experience tells them that linking a disease to an ethnic group makes it harder to achieve the cross-cultural and international cooperation needed to end any pandemic. These public health experts worry that more people will die: even people who aren’t Asians being stomped by xenophobes.

Precisely how does stoking ethnic resentment help us end this pandemic and get life back to normal? Who does it help to have lunatic Americans blaming secret Chinese military labs near Wuhan and lunatic Chinese blaming secret U.S. Army labs? Cui bono?

So we have at least two reasons not to use the phrase. Once again, for some of us, even the first reason was sufficient. Taken together, they seem compelling to me.

As an aside, it’s not as if anyone’s focused on the name at the expense of other issues. Like, for example, Why are we so far behind in testing? Or Why did the President think it was smart to eliminate his pandemic response coordination team? We can pay attention to more than one thing at a time. But these seem like reasonable answers to the question “It’s just a name. Why does it bother you?”

Obviously Trump and some other folks see it differently. So let’s turn the question around and try to figure out “Why is calling it the ‘Chinese virus’ so important to them that it overrides these other concerns and values?”

As is so often the case, people are rarely explicit about their reasons. We have to do some inferring based on what they do say. We’ll do the best we can, knowing we won’t be perfect (and admitting that 3+ years into the Trump era, we’ve formed some unfortunate preconceptions about some of our fellow citizens that are difficult to put aside).

Let’s first dispose of (what seems to me) the silliest argument: “It came from China! Nobody objected when the 1918 influenza pandemic was called the Spanish flu!”

Actually, while we’re still not 100% certain, it’s unlikely that the Spanish flu actually started in Spain. As a neutral nation in World War I, Spain didn’t censor press reports about the outbreak, while combatant nations like France and Germany did. So it looked like Spain was the source because everyone else was hiding the information from their adversaries. But it was apparently an unfair accusation. (That happens: see Black Death.)

And the Spanish did object, loudly and repeatedly. From Laura Spinney’s book Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World:

Not surprisingly, this label almost never appears in contemporary Spanish sources. Practically the only exception is when Spanish authors write to complain about it. “Let it be stated that, as a good Spaniard, I protest this notion of the ‘Spanish fever,'” railed a doctor named Garcia Troviño in a Hispanic medical journal. Many in Spain saw the name as just the latest manifestation of the ‘Black Legend’, anti-Spanish propaganda that grew out of rivalry between the European empires in the sixteenth century, and that depicted the conquistadors as even more brutal than they were…

OK, what about the broader “educational” claim? “By using that name, we’ll teach people where it came from.”

You basically get to use a virus’s name to teach people one fact about it. Calling it “coronavirus” would tell people something about its shape and the family of viruses it’s part of. (We’ve done that before; see rotavirus.) If you were interested in science, that might be interesting or even useful.

Or you could call it something like “bat virus” to identify the animal it may have jumped from – e.g., eastern equine encephalitis virus – also, potentially useful data. Or you might name it after its discoverer(s), like Epstein-Barr virus. Perhaps most helpful, you might choose a name that describes how it behaves — think: human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). (Here’s a deeper look at the complexities and politics of virus nomenclature.)

From the public’s standpoint, though, once a virus has spread widely, it’s not obvious that the most useful data is the country (or ethnic group) which suffered from it first. Now that Lyme disease is widespread, how much do you benefit from knowing that it was first discovered in Lyme, Connecticut?

If not education, perhaps a geopolitical point is being made? Maybe we want to use the virus’s name to call out a government that used authoritarian methods to hide the virus from the world for the first few weeks, instead of providing full information to help us prepare? Maybe we want to call out a government whose market regulations are so weak that it permitted viruses to easily jump between animals and humans?

Somehow, though, I haven’t heard anyone call it the “Chinese Communist Party Virus.” Why not? Why instead attach the name indiscriminately to an entire ethnic group?

If this were about policy, why aren’t the same people demanding to get to the bottom of the report that the Trump administration classified key meetings on coronavirus and held them in places where key people without national security clearances couldn’t participate – thereby delaying an effective response? If that happened, it sounds like something the Chinese Communists might’ve done, no?

Why aren’t the same people objecting to the Trump administration’s rule changes that dramatically speed up chicken processing lines beyond the ability of any USDA inspector to protect us against pathogens – and eliminate those limits in some pork plants altogether? Or Trump’s attempt – continuing right now! – to let nursing homes get away with not having dedicated on-site infection control professionals? Even part-time?

If they’re really objecting to the irresponsibility of a government that doesn’t care enough about human health to put people ahead of profit, they’re doing one helluva lousy job of it.

Or maybe calling it the “Chinese virus” is a way of supporting the argument that the United States ought to shift the terms of trade with the People’s Republic of China? But someone will have to explain to me precisely how it supports that argument, because the logical connection between the name of a virus and America’s optimal trade policy completely eludes me.

Suffice to say, if these are the arguments intended to overcome the objection of bigotry and associated hate crimes, they seem pretty flimsy. I’m left with the idea that Trump sees stirring up bigotry as a positive good and a political opportunity (and that a lot of other folks think so, too.) Hey, if you can indiscriminately attack Mexicans, and American Muslims, and Somali refugees, and 40%+ of the American people still support you, why not attack Chinese people, too?

I don’t always buy slippery slope arguments. But here’s one I do buy. If you can indiscriminately and unfairly link the “Chinese” to this virus, why not the orthodox religious communities where it spread so widely in New Rochelle, New York and elsewhere? Bigots could just as easily decide, indiscriminately and unfairly, to name this (or the next) virus after a religious faith and its practitioners. Anyone who’s studied the Nazis will know exactly what that would sound like.

Or they could equally indiscriminately and unfairly name the virus after some other group of Americans that’s seemed relatively indifferent to safeguarding the rest of us against it. They could look at the Florida spring breakers and unfairly name it the “Gen Z Virus” or “Millennial Virus.” Or what about the evangelical Christian ministers who deliberately defied warnings about holding large services? As long as it’s OK to be recklessly unfair, why not call it the “Evangelical Virus”?

In each case you’d be irresponsibly generalizing about an entire group from the behavior of a few – or hardly any – or maybe none. See how it feels?

Or maybe we could look at the right-wing media figures and politicians who spent weeks calling coronavirus a hoax, or their followers who say they still haven’t changed their behavior even now. What if we called it the “Conservative Virus”?

See how that feels?

It’s irresponsible. It’s wrong. But we have a President who does stuff like that every single day. And that Sharpie picture tells you he’s even doing it now, in the midst of a pandemic.

It’s stirring the pot. It’s making us even angrier with each other. It’s what he’s so good at. It’s what he thinks will get him re-elected, just as it did the first time. But it doesn’t do a damn thing to get us safely out of our houses and back to work. It sure won’t help us live together when we finally do.

Trump has never had a majority and he doesn’t today. We have a job to do, whether we do it in person, by mail, online, or whatever. That job is to make sure we massively outvote him this November. It’s just a start on ending the era of bigotry he exemplifies and exacerbates. But without that start, life in America will only get worse. Social distancing may limit the spread of coronavirus, but Trump proves it has zero impact on the transmission of hatred.

Reflections on Super Tuesday

Some thoughts after Super Tuesday:

  1. Democratic Party voters are terrified of losing to Trump. Pants shittingly terrified. Primary turnout was significantly stronger than in 2016 when Democrats thought they were just picking a successor to Obama, not deciding the fate of the planet. Check out Virginia and Texas, in particular, with massive increases from their 2016 numbers.
  2. The speed with which the center-left of the party coalesced around Biden is stunning. I found it admirable that Buttigieg and Klobuchar were able to recognize they had no path, and support the candidate they believed had the best chance of winning. They put the interests of the party and the country ahead of their short term political interests. (Whether this actually was in the best interests of the party and country remains to be seen, but it’s clear that both candidates believed that.) If Republican primary candidates had behaved similarly four years ago, we might not have ended up with Trump.
  3. The Democratic Party is older, more traditional, and more ideologically diverse than progressives realize. Sanders did enormously well with young voters of all races but got crushed with voters 45 and over, a much larger part of the electorate. Plenty of Democratic voters still identify as moderates and conservatives. Many of these are African-American and among the Party’s most stalwart voters. They are not revolutionaries, and you can’t win a primary without them. Same with many of the liberals who supported Biden and Warren.
  4. There is a tendency among many people on the left, myself included, to focus so intensely on ideological cleavages in the party that we miss how non-ideological factors shape electoral coalitions. In a campaign, the best policy platform in the world is worth little compared to relationships and trust. With historically Democratic constituencies, especially black voters, Biden had built a foundation of trust as Obama’s VP, unrivaled by moderates with similarly problematic records on race, like Buttigieg and Klobuchar, and racially progressive candidates like Warren. Sanders, to his credit, recognized this problem as crucial to his 2016 loss, and put in years of work reaching out to those constituencies. He found success with Hispanics and younger black voters who, along with the liberal whites who powered his 2016 campaign, catapulted him to front-runner status. But his commitment to a revolution that would demolish the existing Democratic Party (and national economic system) makes many rank-and-file Democratic voters nervous, even ones who agree with much of his platform. His failure to mollify those concerns – perhaps by showcasing his fairly pragmatic legislative record and gaining endorsements from more middle-of-the-road Democrats (i.e. not just AOC types) — made it harder for a large number of Democrats to view him as electable.
  5. Progressives certainly have reason to be disappointed at these results, but as a progressive, I want to add some perspective. The Democratic Party of 2020 is significantly different from that of 2008. Joe Biden, a moderate, is running on a platform far to the left of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. He supports a strong public option, which falls short of Medicare for All, but it is something progressives fought unsuccessfully to add in the ACA and would move us closer to universal health care than we’ve ever been. The same goes for Buttigieg, a favorite punching bag of the millennial left. Do they go as far I would like? No. But I’ll gladly take it over the alternative.
  6. This race is far from over. California has millions of ballots left count, and Sanders’s margins could help offset his losses in smaller Super Tuesday states. If Warren drops out, which is likely, Sanders could further consolidate the left and make it impossible for Biden to hit a majority of delegates, even with Bloomberg out. Biden has yet to prove himself to the part of Democratic base less enthused with his experience and conservative voting record: young people, especially those of color. As the nominee, Biden would need to balance his ticket with a progressive woman of color.
  7. One final thought: it’s easy to get caught up in the presidential race. It’s important, but we have a House to defend, Senate to take back, and a nation full of Republican legislatures primed and ready to gerrymander the shit out of their states for the next decade – unless we vote them out. That’s the ballgame, and if we lose sight of it, we’ve lost before we’ve even started playing.