American democracy’s built-in bias towards rural Republicans
EVERY system for converting votes into power has its flaws. Britain suffers from an over-mighty executive; Italy from chronically weak government; Israel from small, domineering factions. America, however, is plagued by the only democratic vice more troubling than the tyranny of the majority: tyranny of the minority.
This has come about because of a growing division between rural and urban voters. The electoral system the Founders devised, and which their successors elaborated, gives rural voters more clout than urban ones. When the parties stood for both city and country that bias affected them both. But the Republican Party has become disproportionately rural and the Democratic Party disproportionately urban. That means a red vote is worth more than a blue one.
The Trump administration had said that the tax cuts would pay for themselves by generating increased revenue from faster economic growth, but the White House has acknowledged in recent weeks that the deficit is growing faster than it had expected. The Office of Management and Budget said this month that it had revised its forecasts from earlier this year to account for nearly $1 trillion of additional debt over the next decade — on average, almost $100 billion more a year in deficits.
My plea isn’t a partisan one, nor am I romanticizing the Democratic Party, which has problems galore. I’m recognizing that when it comes to babysitting this president, the Republican Party is a lost cause. Sure, congressional Republicans discovered a few stray vertebrae of backbone over the past few days; there was some scowling from Mitch McConnell and faint mewling from Paul Ryan. But Trump could put a babushka on the Statue of Liberty and those two would find a way to look to the side, or they’d pronounce her prettier than ever.
“The majority of American women are on some form of contraception. We take it for granted that we can control when and how we want to reproduce. We see pregnancy as within the realm that we can control.”
A country’s deepest values are reflected in how it treats its most vulnerable citizens. So as officials consider the future of Medicaid, they must ask themselves: Is this how America is going to be?
“Why would you undertake such a dangerous journey?” said Magdalena Escobedo, 32, who works at the migrant shelter here in Tucson, called Casa Alitas. “When you’ve got a gun to your head, people threatening to rape your daughter, extort your business, force your son to work for the cartels. What would you do?”
The overestimates are largest among particular groups: the least educated, workers in low-skill occupations with lots of immigrants, and those on the political right. They overstate the share of immigrants who are Muslim and understate the share of Christians. They underestimate immigrants’ education and overestimate both their poverty rate and their dependence on welfare.
In a recent analysis, we found that the lifetime cost of a Tier 1 or 2 SHS in Kenya was two to three times lower than that of a grid connection; systems of this size are also rapidly scalable in both rural and low-income urban areas.
The rise of abortion drugs simply throws into sharper relief what we have always known: Abortions rates are driven not by legality but by economics. Half of the abortions in the United States are among women below the federal poverty line.
People of good faith on both sides of the abortion war know that the best way to lower abortion rates is to deal with what causes women to want to abort in the first place. Rather than ending abortion, criminalizing abortion will merely create new ways in which the state can intensify the misery of the poorest among us.
There are two kinds of parents in modern America, says Alison Gopnik in her recent book, The Gardener and the Carpenter.
The "carpenter" thinks that his or her child can be molded. "The idea is that if you just do the right things, get the right skills, read the right books, you're going to be able to shape your child into a particular kind of adult," she says.
The "gardener," on the other hand, is less concerned about controlling who the child will become and instead provides a protected space to explore. The style is all about "creating a rich, nurturant but also variable, diverse, dynamic ecosystem."
There’s something almost eerie about the unwavering nature of the Republican system of belief.
The nationalists who propelled President Trump into office may appear locked in an existential battle with the party’s pro-trade globalists. In truth, the Republican Party is still driven by the two propositions that have guided it for decades: cutting government aid will free poor Americans to shake dependency and get ahead, and cutting taxes on the well-to-do will bring prosperity to all.
President Trump’s reckless decision to withdraw the United States from the Iran nuclear deal will not force Iran back to the negotiating table, nor will it address serious concerns about Iran’s behavior in the Middle East. But it will leave Iran’s nuclear program unconstrained, and an inconstant America isolated from its allies and far less safe.
What struck me most, though, was not how Sarajevans were different from us, but how much they weren’t. This had obviously been a cultured, tolerant, vibrant place that had been ripped asunder by the conflict pitting Muslim Bosniaks against Christian Serbs and Croats.
The veneer of civilization, I concluded, was quite thin — a natural thought for an intelligence officer whose profession trends pessimistic and whose work is consumed by threats and dangers. Over the years I had learned that the traditions and institutions that protect us from living Hobbesian “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short” lives are inherently fragile and demand careful tending. In America today, they are under serious stress.
It’s almost as if they weren’t being fully honest....
Republicans sold the 2017 tax law as “rocket fuel” for American investment and growth, saying that corporations — flush with cash from lower tax rates — would channel money back into the economy by building factories and offices and investing in equipment, which would help companies grow and provide winnings for workers.
Economists say that may happen as companies readjust their spending plans over the coming months to take advantage of the new law, and they note that it is too early to tell how much the tax law will spread into the broader economy.
But, so far, hard evidence of such an acceleration has yet to appear in economic data, which show more of a steady investment roll than a rapid escalation. And while there are pockets of the economy where investment is picking up — among large tech companies and in shale oil business, for example — corporate spending on buying back stock is increasing at a far faster clip, prompting a debate about whether the law is returning money to the overall economy or just rewarding a small segment of investors.
So what’s really behind the war on the poor? Pretty clearly, the pain this war will inflict is a feature, not a bug. Trump and his friends aren’t punishing the poor reluctantly, out of the belief that they must be cruel to be kind. They just want to be cruel.
Glenn Thrush of The New York Times reported, “Mr. Trump, aides said, refers to nearly every program that provides benefits to poor people as welfare, a term he regards as derogatory.” And I guess you can see where that comes from. After all, he’s a self-made man who can’t attribute any of his own success to, say, inherited wealth. Oh, wait.
Seriously, a lot of people both in this administration and in Congress simply feel no empathy for the poor. Some of that lack of empathy surely reflects racial animus. But while the war on the poor will disproportionately hurt minority groups, it will also hurt a lot of low-income whites — in fact, it will surely end up hurting a lot of people who voted for Trump. Will they notice?
The Facebook hearings this week revealed a vast knowledge gap between Silicon Valley and the nation’s capital, where lawmakers struggled to grasp how the technology works and which problems — misinformation, sharing of data to third parties or political biases coded into algorithms — needed to be addressed.
This is your president, ladies and gentlemen. This is how Donald Trump does business, and these are the kinds of people he surrounds himself with.
Mr. Trump has spent his career in the company of developers and celebrities, and also of grifters, cons, sharks, goons and crooks. He cuts corners, he lies, he cheats, he brags about it, and for the most part, he’s gotten away with it, protected by threats of litigation, hush money and his own bravado. Those methods may be proving to have their limits when they are applied from the Oval Office. Though Republican leaders in Congress still keep a cowardly silence, Mr. Trump now has real reason to be afraid. A raid on a lawyer’s office doesn’t happen every day; it means that multiple government officials, and a federal judge, had reason to believe they’d find evidence of a crime there and that they didn’t trust the lawyer not to destroy that evidence.
If freedom is to prevail over the many challenges to it, American leadership is urgently required. This was among the indelible lessons of the 20th century. But by what he has said, done and failed to do, Mr. Trump has steadily diminished America’s positive clout in global councils.
Reich attributes the erosion of the common good in recent decades to the breakdown of moral restraint in the pursuit of power and money. In Washington, the “whatever-it-takes-to-win politics” that began in the Nixon years has led to the hyperpartisanship of today. In the corporate world, the single-minded pursuit of shareholder value has displaced the older notion that companies are responsible for the well-being of workers, customers and the communities they serve.
In recent years, this notorious mess has become known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a swirling oceanic graveyard where everyday objects get deposited by the currents. The plastics eventually disintegrate into tiny particles that often get eaten by fish and may ultimately enter our food chain.
A study published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports quantified the full extent of the so-called garbage patch: It is four to 16 times bigger than previously thought, occupying an area roughly four times the size of California and comprising an estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of rubbish. While the patch was once thought to be more akin to a soup of nearly invisible microplastics, scientists now think most of the trash consists of larger pieces. And, they say, it is growing “exponentially.
Then came the 2016 election.
Black congregants — as recounted by people in Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Fort Worth and elsewhere — had already grown uneasy in recent years as they watched their white pastors fail to address police shootings of African-Americans. They heard prayers for Paris, for Brussels, for law enforcement; they heard that one should keep one’s eyes on the kingdom, that the church was colorblind, and that talk of racial injustice was divisive, not a matter of the gospel. There was still some hope that this stemmed from an obliviousness rather than some deeper disconnect.
Then white evangelicals voted for Mr. Trump by a larger margin than they had voted for any presidential candidate. They cheered the outcome, reassuring uneasy fellow worshipers with talk of abortion and religious liberty, about how politics is the art of compromise rather than the ideal. Christians of color, even those who shared these policy preferences, looked at Mr. Trump’s comments about Mexican immigrants, his open hostility to N.F.L. players protesting police brutality and his earlier “birther” crusade against President Obama, claiming falsely he was not a United States citizen. In this political deal, many concluded, they were the compromised.
It is hard to imagine poverty that is worse than this, anywhere in the world. Indeed, it is precisely the cost and difficulty of housing that makes for so much misery for so many Americans, and it is precisely these costs that are missed in the World Bank’s global counts.
Of course, people live longer and have healthier lives in rich countries. With only a few (and usually scandalous) exceptions, water is safe to drink, food is safe to eat, sanitation is universal, and some sort of medical care is available to everyone. Yet all these essentials of health are more likely to be lacking for poorer Americans. Even for the whole population, life expectancy in the United States is lower than we would expect given its national income, and there are places — the Mississippi Delta and much of Appalachia — where life expectancy is lower than in Bangladesh and Vietnam.
The true believers behind blockchain platforms like Ethereum argue that a network of distributed trust is one of those advances in software architecture that will prove, in the long run, to have historic significance
for Mrs. Clinton, it’s the latest — and perhaps last — cruel twist in a public life full of them. Her loss to Mr. Trump helped ignite the kind of movement she’d once been poised to lead but that she now mostly watches from the sidelines.
Two political scientists specializing in how democracies decay and die have compiled four warning signs to determine if a political leader is a dangerous authoritarian:
1. The leader shows only a weak commitment to democratic rules. 2. He or she denies the legitimacy of opponents. 3. He or she tolerates violence. 4. He or she shows some willingness to curb civil liberties or the media.
people in the United States typically use about the same amount of health care as people in other wealthy countries do, but pay a lot more for it.
This is by the UNHCR about the USA!?!?!? This is how bad we’ve messed up, and accelerating in the wrong direction in 2017
The United States is one of the world’s richest, most powerful and technologically innovative countries; but neither its wealth nor its power nor its technology is being harnessed to address the situation in which 40 million people continue to live in poverty.
How you spend your resources is the truest indication of your morals and priorities. This is dumb and embarrassing
But what those critics don’t recognize is that the nationalistic, race-baiting, fear-mongering form of politics enthusiastically practiced by Mr. Trump and Roy Moore in Alabama is central to a new strain of American evangelicalism. This emerging religious worldview — let’s call it “Fox evangelicalism” — is preached from the pulpits of conservative media outlets like Fox News. It imbues secular practices like shopping for gifts with religious significance and declares sacred something as worldly and profane as gun culture.
Journalists and scholars have spent decades examining the influence of conservative religion on American politics, but we largely missed the impact conservative politics was having on religion itself. As a progressive evangelical and journalist covering religion, I’m as guilty as any of not noticing what was happening. We kept asking how white conservative evangelicals could support Mr. Trump, who luxuriates in divisive rhetoric and manages only the barest veneer of religiosity. But that was never the issue. Fox evangelicals don’t back Mr. Trump despite their beliefs, but because of them.
The lust for power is nauseating. Racism, appalling. The arrogance, terrifying. The misogyny so far from Christlikeness, it can’t be Christianity
This turned out to be not just an intellectual error, but a strategic one as well. Republicans were in thrall to what we now call Trumpism before Trump came around, and when chips were down, they hardened their alliance with his loyalists rather than splinter into factions. That was all it took for Republicans to unify the government under Trump while simultaneously preserving, for a time, conceptual distance in the public imagination between themselves and Trump’s most toxic qualities.
That conceptual space has largely evaporated, but at unknown expense. It should never have been allowed to open.
The persistence of Roy Moore’s Senate campaign in Alabama offers Republicans no similar quarter. Moore—a credibly accused pedophile—can’t boast a Trump-like history of heterodoxy. He has been a right-wing authoritarian, theocrat, and folk hero for a very long time. Should Moore win, his victory would not force Democrats into a new cycle of recriminations, the way Trump’s did, but it would underscore the fact that Republicans have doubled down on the Faustian bet they made last year.
Even before the newly-minted GOP tax plan passed the Senate, adding a whopping $1.5 trillion to the national debt in order to give away the store to corporations and the wealthiest Americans, these lawmakers were already “discovering” that their own profligacy requires bringing down the deficit by (you guessed it) cutting entitlements. Speaker Paul Ryan announced that “we’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit,” even as he began negotiations with his Senate counterparts over exactly how much they’re gleefully going to increase the very same debt and deficit.
Democrats, and most Americans, will rightly resist such a cynical gambit. But that leaves the very real challenges of the deficit, entitlements, and the future they largely will frame still unresolved.
The fundamental problem is that Social Security and Medicare were sold to the public on a fiction—and until Americans grapple with that, they’re unlikely to achieve a consensus on fixing the programs
It’s easy to see how Pence could put so much faith in the possibilities of divine intervention. The very fact that he is standing behind a lectern bearing the vice-presidential seal is, one could argue, a loaves-and-fishes-level miracle. Just a year earlier, he was an embattled small-state governor with underwater approval ratings, dismal reelection prospects, and a national reputation in tatters. In many ways, Pence was on the same doomed trajectory as the conservative-Christian movement he’d long championed—once a political force to be reckoned with, now a battered relic of the culture wars.
Because God works in mysterious ways (or, at the very least, has a postmodern sense of humor), it was Donald J. Trump—gracer of Playboy covers, delighter of shock jocks, collector of mistresses—who descended from the mountaintop in the summer of 2016, GOP presidential nomination in hand, offering salvation to both Pence and the religious right. The question of whether they should wed themselves to such a man was not without its theological considerations. But after eight years of Barack Obama and a string of disorienting political defeats, conservative Christians were in retreat and out of options. So they placed their faith in Trump—and then, incredibly, he won
I hoped the Trump era would be seen as an aberration and made less ugly by those who might have influence over the president. That hasn’t happened. Rather than Republicans and people of faith checking his most unappealing sides, the president is dragging down virtually everyone within his orbit.
Mr. Trump’s difficult adjustment to the presidency, people close to him say, is rooted in an unrealistic expectation of its powers, which he had assumed to be more akin to the popular image of imperial command than the sloppy reality of having to coexist with two other branches of government.