Michelle Goldberg/NY Times:
The Problem of Political Despair
It’s predictable that, with Donald Trump out of the White House, Democrats would pull back from constant, frenetic political engagement. But there’s a withdrawal happening right now — from news consumption, activism and, in some places, voting — that seems less a product of relief than of avoidance. Part of this is simply burnout and lingering trauma from Covid. But I suspect that part of it is about growing hopelessness born of a sense that dislodging Trump has bought American democracy only a brief reprieve.
One redeeming feature of Trump’s presidency, in retrospect, was that it was possible to look forward to the date when Americans could finish it. Covid, too, once seemed like something we’d be able to largely put behind us when we got vaccinated. Sure, Trumpism, like the virus, would linger, but it was easy to imagine a much better world after the election, the inauguration and the wide availability of shots.
Now we’re past all that, and American life is still comprehensively awful. Dystopia no longer has an expiration date.
Joe Biden’s travails and the deep roots of liberal despair
Which brings us to Jamelle Bouie’s column rebutting such short-term diagnoses. As he argues, much of this is structural: “Thermostatic” public opinion ensures that a president doing big things will face backlash. So do the inevitably polarizing tendencies of the presidency and the fact that being president in deeply divided times is, you know, hard.
But even so, those implacable factors also suggest reasons for liberal despair. In even optimistic scenarios, the GOP’s ability to recapture the House via extreme gerrymanders alone likely means years of grueling trench warfare, and inevitable efforts to repeal whatever progress is made.
That voters already appear to be turning on Democrats amid legislative struggles that are inevitably part of the process suggests that once again, they’ll have only a two-year window to clean up a catastrophic mess left behind by GOP rule. That pattern suggests how tenuous our prospects are for building on a rehabilitated liberalism or averting climate catastrophe.
And depressingly, liberal hopes that a real investment in the nation and people might tamp down illiberal reactionary tendencies seem likely to be dashed.
Why Republicans Can’t Stop Talking About Masculinity
A Q&A with historian Kristin Kobes Du Mez on Josh Hawley, J.D. Vance and why manhood seems to be such a big topic on the right today.
According to historian Kristin Kobes Du Mez, this way of talking about masculinity has its roots in conservative evangelical spaces, but it’s going mainstream. Du Mez wrote a book last year called Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation, about how the model of masculinity in evangelicalism went from emulating the qualities of Jesus to emulating those of the actor John Wayne, and how that has shaped culture and politics ever since. Hawley, Vance and Cawthorn all have deep ties to evangelical Christianity and frequently reference the importance of faith in their lives and, especially for Cawthorn and Hawley, in their political philosophies. I spoke with Du Mez about the history of masculinity as an idea in Republican politics and why it’s suddenly so popular. This conversation has been edited and condensed.
Democrats zero in on cost of living to sell Biden agenda
Democrats running in competitive Senate races are being urged to zero in on the issue of the cost of living in an effort to sell President Biden‘s “Build Back Better” legislative agenda, according to a polling memo released exclusively to The Hill.
The polling memo for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee found that the message was one of the top-performing messages of the more than 360 messages tested by Senate Democrats so far in this cycle.
“Democrats say you should support [candidate] because they’re proposing legislation to reduce the cost of living for all Americans,” the message in the memo read. “They say that their plans lower the cost of health care, child care, elder care, and cut taxes for millions of working families. They’re making sure that their plans are fully paid for by making the wealthy and big corporations pay their fair share – but no one making less than $400,000 will pay any more taxes.”
Jill Lawrence/USA Today:
From Zoom to COVID vaccines to Biden and (gulp) Trump, a liberal’s Thanksgiving thanks
There is much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving week, despite the pain of our troubled times. What’s on your list? You might be surprised by mine.
The No. 1 reason to be thankful is, without question, all the ways life is slowly and fitfully returning to some semblance of normal. That starts with the miraculous COVID-19 vaccine and every single scientist, corporation and politician who helped make it possible to develop and distribute. Yes, that includes you, former President Donald Trump, as well as President Joe Biden. It includes every American who has gotten vaccinated, every person who willingly wears a mask when it’s requested or required, every worker who has taken risks to help and serve others, every parent who struggled with school, child care and job chaos, and everyone who helped bring us the new antiviral pills that could make COVID a manageable disease.
The GOP bets on resentment over problem solving
The Republican enterprise is devoted to stoking anger and social resentment, not to enacting legislation. Democrats may take an eternity to do it, but they actually want to pass bills, create programs and spotlight day-to-day concerns (child care, health care) that government can plausibly address.
McCarthy’s 8 ½-hour rant reflected his need to mollify the GOP’s large right wing with a protracted, nihilistic scream of opposition, even if “some of his claims,” as The Post’s Marianna Sotomayor, Paul Kane and Jacqueline Alemany wrote, “wildly defied the facts.”
Biden reappointed Republican Jerome Powell to head the Fed. Why didn’t he pick a Democrat?
Yes, Biden praises bipartisanship. But reappointing Powell also offers the White House some advantages.
First, giving the nod to Powell saves the White House the potentially contentious confirmation contest that might have resulted had he selected Brainard. As political scientists have shown, senators can constrain presidents’ selection of Fed nominees, especially when the Fed is unpopular back home in their states. Few Republicans, if any, were likely to vote for Brainard, and some Democrats were wavering, including moderate Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), who came out in favor of Powell.
Second, the White House has yet to lock down 50 Democratic votes to secure Senate passage of Biden’s Build Back Better bill. The White House probably calculated that any political capital Biden has left would be better spent on bringing moderates on board for the party’s top policy priority than diverting to a difficult confirmation battle.
Third, newly announced Fed chairs routinely endure a test of confidence by financial markets. The markets’ assessments of nominees can be tough, even for veterans like Ben Bernanke and Yellen, both of whom were top economists and experienced central bankers. When Biden announced Powell’s renomination, the stock market briefly rallied and bond markets moderated expectations about future inflation. With the economy uncertain, Biden recognized — like many presidents before him — that it’s tough to buck the norm of reappointment when the chair enjoys the confidence of financiers.
From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.