The Rise and Fall of the New Deal Order—memorialized in the classic anthology of that title edited by Gary Gerstle and Steve Fraser in 1989—might be history, but it never gets old. Eighty-plus years after FDR was inaugurated, the New Deal still excites the liberal left imagination even as it, perhaps, stunts it, too. How we got from Roosevelt to Reagan continues to generate conflicting arguments from those who think the New Deal was the “great exception” to American individualism and federalism unlikely to be repeated (Jefferson Cowie); a reluctant capitulation to the white supremacist South which was the best it could do (Ira Katznelson); or, an honorable surrender following the desperate rearguard fight by workers and farmers against the consolidation of corporate capitalism in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries (Steve Fraser).
As for white unionized workers, despite all of the stories about how pissed off they are at neoliberal Democrats and how they were attracted to Donald Trump’s trade message, the fact remains that white men in unions have still voted for Democrats at a rate of about 20 percent higher than their non-union counterparts. (This pattern likely did not hold this year. Exit polls from the 2016 election indicate that Clinton carried the union vote by 51–43, the lowest margin for a Democrat since 1984.)
Two recent books about the New Deal order, one by political scientist Eric Schickler and the other by legal historian Reuel Schiller, complement each other in their attention to the relationship between unions and the movement for African-American civil rights. But while Schickler writes a story of liberal ascension, driven largely by the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), stopping in 1965 after the monumental legislation of the civil rights era, Schiller chronicles a liberal declension, ending with deindustrialization in the 1970s and tension between labor and civil rights activists. Both books end at roughly the same historical moment. Schickler sees in it labor liberalism’s triumph—the CIO and then the civil rights movement pushing to bring racial justice into the mainstream of the Democratic Party. Schiller, on the other hand, sees the labor movement and those fighting racial injustice, despite their many efforts to work together, as chained to separate legal protocols, doomed to “[talk] past each other.” To paraphrase Bob Dylan, for Schickler, labor liberalism is busy being born at the same time, according to Schiller, it is busy dying.
Not just falsehood by falsehood, but as the defining feature of his presidency.
Donald Trump is not on the cover of Time this week, and that must gall him. The president is the subject of the magazine’s cover story, the promise of which apparently persuaded him to grant it an exclusive interview. But instead of Trump’s visage, the cover features a single three-word question in bold red type: “Is Truth Dead?”
The question on the magazine’s cover refers to Trump’s apparent ability to lie, dissemble, and distract from the truth—and to not only get away with it but to ride those lies to the world’s most powerful office. The story within by Time’s Washington bureau chief, Michael Scherer, rightly takes Trump’s dishonesty as its premise, then asks: How exactly does it work, and why, and can it possibly keep working now that he’s president? It’s a good story, thoughtful and—though Trump would never admit it—fair in the sense that it examines its subject’s penchant for prevarication without exaggerating, distorting, or moralizing.
“It isn’t that Time, the Wall Street Journal, and others haven’t confronted Trump on specific claims. They have, of…
When news began trickling out, months ago, that Russia may have tried to influence the American election, the actual news in the U.S. quickly became something akin to a Cold-war era spy novel.
There’s now a vast web of circumstantial evidence and questions surrounding the Trump administration’s alleged contacts with Russian state actors during the campaign, most of which leaked out over months. And for many people, the web of allegations and the Trump administration’s frequently shifting official story has been very difficult to follow.
On Monday, FBI director James Comey testified in front of the House Intelligence committee as part of Congress’ ongoing investigation in the matter. Before his testimony, the committee’s ranking Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff (CA) laid out of all of the circumstantial evidence that has built up so far connecting the Trump campaign to Russian state actors seeking the intervene in the election.
Schiff emphasizes in his opening that he is drawing only on public reports, not all of which have been confirmed. His opening statement, however, is a good summary of everything that has come out so far.
Protest and persist: why giving up hope is not an option
The true impact of activism may not be felt for a generation. That alone is reason to fight, rather than surrender to despair
Hope is a belief that what we do might matter, an understanding that the future is not yet written. It’s informed, astute open-mindedness about what can happen and what role we may play in it. Hope looks forward, but it draws its energies from the past, from knowing histories, including our victories, and their complexities and imperfections. It means not being the perfect that is the enemy of the good, not snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, not assuming you know what will happen when the future is unwritten, and part of what happens is up to us.
To know history is to be able to see beyond the present, to remember the past gives you capacity to look forward as well, it’s to see that everything changes and the most dramatic changes are often the most unforeseen.
We are complex creatures. Hope and anguish can coexist within us and in our movements and analyses. There’s a scene in the new movie about James Baldwin, I Am Not Your Negro, in which Robert Kennedy predicts, in 1968, that in 40 years there will be a black president. It’s an astonishing prophecy since four decades later Barack Obama wins the presidential election, but Baldwin jeers at it because the way Kennedy has presented it does not acknowledge that even the most magnificent pie in the sky might comfort white people who don’t like racism but doesn’t wash away the pain and indignation of black people suffering that racism in the here and now. Patrisse Cullors, one of the founders of Black Lives Matter, early on described the movement’s mission as “rooted in grief and rage but pointed towards vision and dreams”. The vision of a better future doesn’t have to deny the crimes and sufferings of the present; it matters because of that horror.
Last month, Daniel Ellsberg and Edward Snowden had a public conversation about democracy, transparency, whistleblowing and more. In the course of it, Snowden – who was of course Skyping in from Moscow – said that without Ellsberg’s example he would not have done what he did to expose the extent to which the NSA was spying on millions of ordinary people.
Every decade, with recent results of the census in hand, legislative districts are drawn. Redrawing political lines is a powerful tool that determines who wins an election, controls the legislature, and ultimately which laws pass. In Virginia, legislators create the criteria and draw their own districts. This is a manipulative process known as gerrymandering, and we must create a system that more fairly draws political lines.
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• The 5th District will choose its candidate for Congress at the Democratic primary on June 23, 2020. The Democratic Party will select its presidential nominee at the 2020 Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin from July 17-20, 2020. Virginia will send 124 National Delegates and 8 Alternates to the Convention.
• The general election for Congress, Senate, and President of the United States takes place on November 3, 2020.