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How Did the Republican Party Get So Corrupt? - The Atlantic
"The fact that no plausible election outcome can check the abuse of power is what makes political corruption so dangerous. It strikes at the heart of democracy. It destroys the compact between the people and the government. In rendering voters voiceless, it pushes everyone closer to the use of undemocratic means."
politics  america  authoritarianism  populism 
yesterday by corrales
Barry Jenkins on Adapting ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’
I will say,” Jenkins clarifies regarding Baldwin’s view of America, “it’s not a kind contempt, but it is a constructive contempt. He was writing with the belief that the American ideal, or just America itself, was salvageable, that this idea of greatness in America was actually possible, but through rigorous interrogation.”
writing  film  movies  creativity  literature  1970s  nyc  america 
2 days ago by allaboutgeorge
The Return of Paganism
perhaps instead of secularization it makes sense to talk about the fragmentation and personalization of Christianity — to describe America as a nation of Christian heretics, if you will, in which traditional churches have been supplanted by self-help gurus and spiritual-political entrepreneurs. These figures cobble together pieces of the old orthodoxies, take out the inconvenient bits and pitch them to mass audiences that want part of the old-time religion but nothing too unsettling or challenging or ascetic. The result is a nation where Protestant awakenings have given way to post-Protestant wokeness, where Reinhold Niebuhr and Fulton Sheen have ceded pulpits to Joel Osteen and Oprah Winfrey, where the prosperity gospel and Christian nationalism rule the right and a social gospel denuded of theological content rules the left...This immanent civic religion, Smith argues, is gradually replacing the more biblical form of civil religion that stamped American history down to the Protestant-Catholic-Jew 1950s. Whether in the social-justice theology of contemporary progressive politics or the transhumanist projects of Silicon Valley, we are watching attempts to revive a religion of this-world, a new-model paganism, to “reclaim the city that Christianity wrested away from it centuries ago.”
NYTimes  faith  christian  America 
2 days ago by thomas.kochi
The GOP Maneuvers to Rule as a Minority Party - The Atlantic
The document itself essentially admits both to the fact that the Republican Party was a party of white men, and that the only way to compete would be to neutralize the “demographic destiny” of Democrats, embracing immigration reform and becoming a true multiracial and multiethnic “big tent.” It’s a strikingly candid report. It reads like speculative fiction today.

But around the same time, darker clouds appeared on the horizon. The RealClearPolitics analyst Sean Trende wrote an influential series on “missing white voters” rebutting the demographic arguments of the GOP report, saying that Republicans could still build a reliable coalition solely by picking up more “downscale white voters,” and reversing its movement toward immigration reform.

In 2014, while Republicans deliberated internally over whether to allow an immigration-reform package through the House, a group of pollsters—including the current White House adviser Kellyanne Conway—released findings indicating that an anti-immigration message could serve as a GOP base-builder. These findings became the underpinnings of the strategy that brought President Donald Trump to the White House, while also cementing the GOP as a white man’s party—the party of the minority.

That strategy is newly relevant now, as the Republican Party looks to complete lame-duck-session power grabs in state legislatures in Wisconsin and Michigan, preemptively stripping power away from incoming Democratic governors. Those moves are characterized by Democrats as brazen and unprecedented “coups” by a party that was soundly beaten in the midterms but, through anti-democratic means, has managed to exert undue power.

But those midwestern power grabs are not necessarily shocking or unpredictable. Rather, they are an extension of the underlying strategy that had already been the major organizing principle of the GOP even as Priebus wrote his report. For decades, the Republican Party prepared to keep power even as it represented a coalition that became the minority. Now, the plan is in full effect.

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment when this became the destiny of the Republican Party. One could go all the way back to when the 1964 Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater broke the Democratic stranglehold on the Jim Crow South, picking up Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas on an anti-civil-rights agenda, initiating the proto “southern strategy” and sparking a realignment of white conservatism with the GOP. Or the story could start just a year later, when the Voting Rights Act ushered in the first era of anything resembling true democracy in the country’s history, and also set in motion an anti-voting-rights insurgency in the South.

Closer still, the gerrymandering and geographic polarization that have become so critical to modern Republican plans might not have been possible without the “white flight” in the 1960s and ’70s associated with that conservatism, and with the nascence of white suburban evangelicals as a political force under Ronald Reagan. The deep partisan differences creating unbridgeable policy divides in swing states might not have been so deep without the scorched-earth politics of the 1990s, and the power of technocratic tinkering at the margins of elections and voting rights might not have been so apparent without the infamous presidential election in Florida in 2000.

Even nearer to the modern moment, perhaps Wisconsin and Michigan are the end results of a chain of events that only became inevitable with the dawn of technologically sophisticated GOP redistricting campaigns in 2000 and 2010, with the reality-warping corporate bonanza of the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision, or with 2013’s Shelby County v. Holder, which defanged federal enforcement of the Voting Rights Act.

Any one of these moments could be a viable starting point for assessing just what happened in the 2018 election, when Republicans lost the popular-vote margins at just about every level of politics, but still managed to limit Democratic power in some meaningful ways. There’s Wisconsin, where—relying on surging turnout across the board, and a spike in black and Latino voters—the Democratic challenger Tony Evers defeated the GOP incumbent Scott Walker to claim the governor’s mansion. Republican state legislators moved quickly to handcuff Evers’s office.

After the Republican Robin Vos, the speaker of the Wisconsin Statehouse, said that “if you took Madison and Milwaukee out of the state election formula, we would have a clear majority,” the legislature moved to limit the governor’s power to administer the government or be involved in lawsuits without legislative approval. Evers is reportedly not confident that direct pressure on Walker will convince the outgoing governor to veto the lame-duck bills, although Democrats in the state have threatened litigation of their own.

As my colleague Russell Berman reports, Michigan is on a similar path as Wisconsin. “The Michigan GOP proposals did not go as far and were not moving quite as fast as those in Wisconsin,” Berman writes, “but they would similarly shift power to intervene in litigation from the governor’s and attorney general’s offices to the legislature, where Republicans maintain a majority.”
america  authoritarianism  populism  history  legal 
3 days ago by corrales
Hannah Arendt's Answer to Paul Berman on the Contemporary American Left – Tablet Magazine
But can’t it just be a country? Instead of writing hymns to American greatness, we could devote our energy to passing an agenda that would deal with the issues we’re actually facing: universal health care, a jobs guarantee, tuition-free college education, and whatever else it takes to give our lives a decent measure of economic security and break the 1 percent’s death grip on democracy. Plus we have to stop the planet from melting.

There’s a long way to go before we get there. I keep coming back to Arendt because she tells us how to get started. We’re stuck in the same cycle that she saw in interwar Europe. Trump sells the patently absurd, and Democrats respond with clichés that not even they believe in. Coming up with nobler lies isn’t going to help. Telling the truth might.
america  usa 
3 days ago by isaacsmith

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