The 2020 presidential contest didn’t only elect a presumptive new president. It blocked, for the moment, a critical stage of emergent autocracy.
Our democracy is in trouble, straining under serious anti-democratic forces.
One of the two major political parties that governs it is increasingly intolerant of liberal-democratic rights, especially for ethnic or religious minorities. On voting records and policy positions, it’s in the ballpark of some openly white nationalist conservative parties in Europe.
The tens of millions of votes for the current presidential administration confirm a recurrent pattern in U.S. history: a sizable statistical minority of the electorate holds, as…
The choice of a national government to memorialize its dead, or not, can be revealing. That choice reflects political ideas about state authority and ideals of citizenship in times of war or national emergency. It also reflects moral ideas about whose lives are most worthy of public recognition and emulation by other citizens.
The Trump administration has, thus far, made little effort to memorialize the victims of COVID-19. This issue concerns more than the president alone. Many members of his party and supportive partisan media have adopted a patently optimistic, reality-denying narrative about the course of the pandemic. …
The idea of “two Americas,” or “red” and “blue” states, now dominates public discussion. “Political polarization,” the Pew Research Center reports, “is a defining feature of American politics today.”
But the idea that America is politically polarized isn’t new.
In 1858 Abraham Lincoln delivered one of the most important addresses in U.S. history, his “House Divided” speech, when he accepted the Illinois Republican nomination for Senate. The speech marked his entrance into national politics at a time when the nation was profoundly at odds over slavery.
Lincoln’s speech still offers timely lessons about the costs of deep-seated political polarization.