By Christian Coleman | Let’s play the word association game. Come now. It’ll be fun! Peanut : Butter. Instagram : Celebrity. Identity politics : Divisive. Wait. Let’s back up. Divisive? That word has been coming up lately when presidential candidates make identity politics a talking point in public discourse. At an LGBT gala in Las Vegas, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg, the first openly gay candidate, said identity politics have created a “crisis of belonging,” leading us to get “divided and carved up.” Vermont senator Bernie Sanders has criticized identity politics for focusing only on the endgame of diversity—another word with contentious associations and dubious meanings depending on who’s defining it—and neglecting the needs of working people.
By Adam Eichen | “You can love two children at once,” a colleague once told me. He meant that advocates for a single issue can integrate other reform efforts into their agenda without being subsumed—and are often more powerful for it. In my work promoting democracy reform I’ve repeated this message hundreds of times across the country, advocating for automatic and same-day voter registration, public financing of elections, and independent redistricting commissions—all measures that bulwark the power of the people against that of big money and unlock the possibility of progressive change.
By S. Craig Watkins | For more than a year Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had been waiting for this precise moment: 8:59 p.m., June 26, 2018. That was when the polls in her Democratic Party primary contest against incumbent Joe Crowley in New York’s Fourteenth District would start to close and the final votes would be tallied. Ocasio-Cortez had campaigned for ten months to win an election that virtually nobody thought she could win. That morning her staff still did not know where they would hold her watch party. It was yet another sign of what a long shot her campaign was. They finally settled on a billiards hall in the Bronx.
By Rebecca Todd Peters | On Saturday, a close friend walked out of her local Catholic church with her family in protest of the priest’s blatantly propagandistic pro-life homily. Apparently, he was praising the story of Abby Johnson’s conversion from Planned Parenthood clinic director to pro-life activist and the new film Unplanned, which tells her story. The film, released by a company that focuses on producing “Christian films,” received a nationwide release, was in fourth place after its first weekend in box offices, and has gone on to gross almost $18 million since opening day.
As a child in India, Devex founding president and editor in chief Raj Kumar witnessed desperate poverty, an experience that has fed his interest in how the global aid industry can better meet the needs of the world’s nearly eight hundred million ultrapoor children and adults. Today, with a wave of billionaire philanthropy and the rise of tech disruption in the aid industry, Kumar argues that ending extreme poverty by 2030, a United Nations Sustainable Development Goal, is increasingly possible.
By Adele Barker | I still crush garlic with the back of a wooden spoon. And once a month, I look up at the moon and say to myself, “it’s a poya,” the Sinhalese word for ‘full moon.’ I carry the island inside me, though it has been years since we lived there. I haven’t been back to Sri Lanka since 2012 and am struggling as many are to explain the Easter Sunday horror in churches and hotels where people were celebrating the holidays.
By Jonathan Rosenblum | In this season of commemorating the Exodus, the first general strike in recorded history, let us praise the return of the strike weapon to the American political landscape. Workers in 2019 are showing greater readiness to flex the strike muscle. Just look at the 31,000 Stop and Shop supermarket workers in southern New England, who struck for 11 days and beat back company demands for healthcare and retirement concessions. The pickets came down Sunday night after the union announced that the company had met their demands to boost pay and preserve healthcare and pension coverage.
By Rebecca Todd Peters | Imagine a society with widespread stillbirths, miscarriages, and genetic deformities linked to sabotage and accidents at nuclear facilities, chemical and biological toxins leaking into the water supply, and the uncontrolled use of chemical insecticides and herbicides. Imagine now that in addition to dropping birth rates from this environmental apocalypse, a new strain of syphilis and rapidly increasing death rates from AIDS wipe out large segments of young, sexually active people from the reproductive pool. Could you imagine that in such a world, the fertility of the ruling class becomes so completely compromised by these disasters that many women can no longer conceive and bear children and the whole social order threatens to fall apart?
By Michael Klein | Some lunatic with a gun killed some people at an immigration center in Binghamton, New York. Liz Rosenberg and her family live up there and David, her husband, teaches in the middle school which is close to all the action (the way, in any smallish town, everything is close to all the action).
By Dennis A. Henigan | Gun control forces also have an impressive list of victories in the states. Since 1989, they have succeeded in passing Child Access Prevention (CAP) laws in eighteen states. These laws hold gun owners criminally responsible for leaving guns accessible to children. During that same period, the NRA also suffered key legislative defeats in New Jersey (legislation requiring that guns be “childproofed”), Maryland (legislation requiring internal locks on guns and limiting handgun sales to one per month), and Illinois (legislation requiring background checks for private sales at gun shows), while Colorado and Oregon (two states traditionally unfriendly to gun control) extended background checks to private sales at gun shows, both by voter referendum.
By Lynn K. Hall | Last week, Senator Martha McSally made headlines by publicly speaking out about having been raped while she served in the Air Force. Her testimony during the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee hearing on military sexual assault shocked many. In 1991, McSally became the first American woman to fly in combat, and later the first woman to command an Air Force fighter squadron.“I blamed myself. I was ashamed and confused. I thought I was strong but felt powerless,” McSally said during the hearing.
By David Bacon | Students and parents have come out en masse to join the marches and picket lines of the ongoing teachers strike in Oakland, California. All say that they are trying to save the city’s public school system.“This is a strike to save our district,” said Heath Madom, who’s taught tenth grade English for three years at Oakland Technical High School, which is referred to as “Tech” by educators and pupils. “Our Tech community is committed to saving public education. Twenty-four schools are on the chopping block. We could become like New Orleans, with no public schools and all charters, if this keeps going.”
By Richard Blanco | Seventeen suns rising in seventeen bedroom windows. Thirty-four eyes blooming open with the light of one more morning. Seventeen reflections in the bathroom mirror. Seventeen backpacks or briefcases stuffed with textbooks or lesson plans. Seventeen good mornings at kitchen breakfasts and seventeen goodbyes at front doors. Seventeen drives through palm-lined streets and miles of crammed highways to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School at 5901 Pine Island Road.
By Dina Gilio-Whitaker | The incident with the Covington Catholic school boys has been an astonishing exhibition of not only an intensely polarized country, but a dizzying conglomeration of issues. There were countless mixed messages contained in the assortment of video clips of Nathan Phillips and Nick Sandmann who appeared to be in a standoff. As an American Indian journalist and academic trained to analyze information from all possible angles and come to some kind of understanding of the evidence, I agree that much of the reactionary rhetoric and hateful response to the Covington students was misguided and outright wrong. The students did not deserve death threats.
They are today’s indisputable shrine to our cuddly overlord, the cat. Meow! You embed them in your text messages, your tweets, your Facebook posts, your Instagram stories. A shorthand for our daily feels, they’re also unifying symbols and rallying cries for a common cause. We’re talking about internet memes. They’re everywhere, on- and offline. And they’re shaping and reflecting our pop culture and politics in real time.
By Linda McQuaig and Neil Brooks | After years of basking in the glow of a flattering limelight, by the fall of 2011 the very rich were experiencing something new and altogether jarring: the glare of a harsh spotlight trained directly on them. The temptation to bark orders like: “Dim that light, or else!” was natural enough, but perhaps unwise. After all, those shining the spotlight were not their employees and were swarming in large numbers through the streets of lower Manhattan, behaving like the sort of unruly mob one finds in faraway places where the ways of the free world are insufficiently appreciated.
By Mary Frances Berry | What Greg Malveaux told me about electoral fraud in Louisiana was disturbing. He explained how campaign operatives paid the poor small amounts of money for their votes while making policy contrary to their needs. He talked about the family fiefdoms that perpetuated their power illegally. He described how election officials cavalierly accepted payments to let buyers view the ballots to make sure the bought stayed bought. He related how poor voters didn’t mind saying they got paid small amounts of money and treats for their votes, perhaps a pork chop sandwich and a cold drink.
This year’s Human Rights Day marks the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—the perfect day to reflect on the US’s treatment of the immigrant community. And let me tell you: It’s going to be a stark reckoning. Just look at some of this year’s headlines. Many migrant families are still separated. Border patrol agents fired tear gas at migrant families at the US-Mexico border to disperse them. This is inhumane treatment. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims the “inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being—regardless of race, color, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” That’s not what we’re seeing. Where are the inalienable rights for this community?
By Mary Frances Berry | Protest movements began to shift tactics in the late 1980s. Unlike earlier movements, which had identifiable leaders who demanded specific policy changes, political protests increasingly relied on creative expression to influence the public and public policy. Using storytelling, graffiti, alternative music, street theater, puppetry, and new media technologies, protests sought to change popular culture and mobilize support for progressive change. The medium became the message, as Marshall McLuhan had recommended decades earlier. Now there was rap music, zap actions by the Guerrilla Girls, and Critical Mass, which brings hundreds of people together for bicycle riding in the streets, and which San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown was finally forced to accept. Disruption remained the aim of these gatherings; however, it would be misleading to draw sharp distinctions between protest styles of the 1960s and 1990s.
By Philip Warburg | Faced with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest report, some environmental leaders are all too ready to toss a lifeline to aging, uneconomic nuclear power plants. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), long venerated as America’s most rigorous nuclear watchdog group, joined this chorus in early November.