Category Politics/Culture

Can the Commons Be Saved?

What binds us together as Americans? It’s a question weighing heavily on the nation’s collective psyche as we enter winter and a holiday season unlike any other in anyone’s memory.

Through most of 2020, we’ve been enduring our own Twin Towers of catastrophe—a deadly pandemic that has altered most every aspect of our lives, and a calamitous presidential election, around which the incessant vituperation of the campaign has become even worse in its aftermath, and far more malignant for our democracy than anyone had previously been able to imagine.

Grievance and distrust are the coins of that realm, and once they start replicating like the viruses they are, the organism can be a long time healing.

Politically, we seem no longer to regard our opponents as simply wrong-headed or misinformed, but as soul-soiled, with evil intentions...

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Joe Biden Won! So Why Do I Feel So Bad?

We have lost—all of us. The whole country, everyone. Conservatives, liberals, libertarians, Tea Partiers, Antifa, you name it. No one has truly escaped the chaos, rivenness and rancor that abides after a relentless, four-year tsunami of invective and incompetence from on high.

All of us are dragged down and worse for the experience—even those who convince themselves otherwise, whose adoption of a near religious devotion to a cult leader defies rationality and the actual religion many of them claim to live by.

If they’re alive at all, that is. Upwards of 281,000 of us aren’t anymore, courtesy of a willfully, colossally mismanaged pandemic in which partisan politics was the sole consideration in the executive branch’s response.

We had heard incessantly that a swamp would be drained, and instead we are chest-high in mud, tangled in kelp, our breathing labored, our vision obscured, the horizon barely a...

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George Orwell and the Perils of a Post-Truth Society

Celebrating Biden victory

I’ve been struggling with the question of whether to allow Donald Trump to take up any more mental space in my head (and yours, if you’ve read at least this far). After all, Joe Biden is the president-elect!

This is a fact and has been for some time now, one that was acknowledged even this morning in a tweet by the current (for 65 days and counting…) president, who sounded every bit the first-grade schoolboy muttering barely out of hearing to his bigger, more muscular opponent who just vanquished him in a game of tetherball: “Yeah, but you CHEATED!”

If that were so, what does it say about him, the most powerful man in the world, whose government apparently couldn’t even oversee a free election on his behalf in a country with a 240-year record of standing as a worldwide beacon of freedom?

Whether to ponder Trump yet again is a dilemma he has visited upon everyone concerned about the hard and sustained veeri...

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Elation and Exhaustion

What a week. I went to bed (very) late Tuesday night feeling disconsolate, woke a couple times to take a peek at my phone, put my head back under the pillow wondering whether it was possible to keep it squeezed hard enough to succeed in self-suffocation, awoke just a bit later having not tried to find out, then felt even bluer in cranking up my laptop and observing the yawning vote gaps separating frontrunning Donald Trump from Joe Biden in key battleground states, including my own here in North Carolina.

“Is this really happening?” I asked myself and the fates themselves. “Could it be?” 

Already, my mind was projecting darkly ahead, wondering how the country would survive four more years of this horror show, and what I would do with the despair already wrapping itself around my insides, like a snake set to slowly squeeze the life out of me.

“Big hill to climb for Biden...

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Brilliant Songs #16: Zoe Mulford’s “The President Sang ‘Amazing Grace'”

We are a nation rent asunder, in a horrible mess, increasingly hard and loud at each other and dismissed—or worse: pitied—by our former allies, while our enemies busy themselves with furthering the work of our Mad King in undermining the very foundations of our democracy. Millions of us are voting frantically, in fear and trembling that it won’t be counted, will be challenged, hidden away or burned while armies of lawyers descend on a newly stolen Supreme Court with petitions to sow yet more chaos and perpetuate the reign of an obviously demented Divider-in-Chief.

What kind of man summons his followers to tightly packed worship rallies that expose them to a potentially deadly virus, all the while denying its very existence and ridiculing those who seek to keep us safe us from it? One can’t help but feel we are not so much approaching but are now fully submerged in lunacy under the most wreckless man ...

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