Dystopia Journal #1: A Vast Unreality

This past weekend's inauguration didn't feel real. It still doesn't.Despite the evidence, it's hard for me to accept that the presidency of Donald Trump is really happening. Watching the news feels like we've been granted a collective glimpse into an alternate timeline, a bad future, as a warning and a means of averting it. But this is no dream or fantasy, it's the reality we live in now and we'll be facing it for years to come.It feels all the more unreal because it's such a sharp break … [Read more...]

Letter-Writing Wednesday: Andrew Cuomo’s Bad Faith

Dear Governor Cuomo:As a New York State resident and a Democrat, I was dismayed to read that you vetoed a bipartisan bill passed by the legislature to reform the state's woefully inadequate public-defender system. What's even more disgraceful is that you let the legislature pass the bill back in June of last year and then sat on it, waiting until the last possible moment to announce your veto, to ensure that the legislative session would be over and there'd be no chance to override it until … [Read more...]

Letter-Writing Wednesday: Don’t Help Republicans Govern

[For 2017, I made a New Year's resolution to make sure my elected officials hear from me more often. To hold myself accountable to that pledge, and hopefully to inspire others to do the same, I intend to post the letters I send on Daylight Atheism. I sent a version of this letter to my senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. Feel free to reuse it or adapt it for your own purposes.]Dear Senator:After Barack Obama was inaugurated in 2009, Mitch McConnell declared that Republicans' … [Read more...]

Lord of Misrule

Before the Christian church renamed the day Christmas and tried to co-opt it with their own rituals, the winter solstice holiday was traditionally a raucous pagan festival. One of the old customs, which persisted into the medieval era, was called the Lord of Misrule. A person of low social standing, like a peasant or a servant, was chosen to be king for a day and to conscript everyone else into debauchery:Presiding over these rowdy celebrations of Christmas-tide, held over the twelve days … [Read more...]

“Because of Politics”

I was reading "Life in Obamacare's Dead Zone", about poor Americans stuck in a coverage gap that arose because the Supreme Court made it possible for red states to refuse the Medicaid expansion. I'll get to their stories, but first, I have to vent about the appalling subhead:"Excluded from the Affordable Care Act because of politics, thousands of poor Americans grapple with the toll — physical and psychological — of being uninsured."Whether the author meant it this way or not, the phr … [Read more...]

Why America Needs Identity Politics

The debate about what lessons American progressives need to take from the 2016 election is just beginning. One of the first shots in that war was fired this month in an editorial by Mark Lilla, "The End of Identity Liberalism", that implores us to stop thinking or talking about race and gender so much. It leaves a lot to criticize:In recent years American liberalism has slipped into a kind of moral panic about racial, gender and sexual identity that has distorted liberalism's message and … [Read more...]

The Moral Ruin of Evangelicalism

According to exit polls, 81% of white evangelicals voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election. It's safe to say that most of them are happy with the outcome. But there's one question they may not have considered: What price did they pay for this victory?An article by Robert P. Jones, head of the Public Religion Research Institute, gives us the answer. They won the election, and all it cost them was their convictions:In 2011 and again just ahead of the election, PRRI asked Americans … [Read more...]

You Get What You Vote For

With a Republican Congress and president set to be seated in 2017, it's a good bet that all the coverage gains of Obamacare will be rolled back. Paul Ryan has been open about his desire to dismantle every piece of safety-net legislation since the Great Society, and it's likely that he's going to get his wish. That's very bad news for the residents of depressed Clay County, Kentucky:For Freida Lockaby, an unemployed 56-year-old woman who lives with her dog in an aging mobile home in … [Read more...]

Fellow White People, We Need to Talk

There are going to be countless post-mortems written about the 2016 election and what lessons we need to learn from it. Here's my contribution.Ultimately, there was nothing magical about Trump the candidate. He didn't win over huge numbers of Obama voters to his cause, he didn't tap into a hitherto unknown faction of the electorate, he didn't excite or energize people who were formerly uninterested in politics. He got about the same number of votes that Republican candidates always get, from … [Read more...]

The America I Thought I Knew

[Note: I've still got a lot of raw emotions, and this post is written in the spirit of catharsis. If that's not what you need right now, feel free to skip it. You may also like this one: Dear America, Stop Gaslighting Me]Over the last few days, I've been cycling back and forth through all the stages of grief, trying to come to terms with what's happened. I've come to realize that the reason that last week's election results were such a devastating and unexpected blow - even besides the … [Read more...]