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American Politics

Did the Democrats Fuck It Up?

Did the Democrats Fuck It Up?

Abortion politics and the long road to Dobbs

To a remarkable degree, party elites have sorted on abortion. When the House voted on the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021, codifying the right to abortion prior to viability and thereafter if “continuation of the pregnancy would pose a risk to the pregnant patient’s life or health,” every Democrat but one was in favor, and every single Republican was opposed. The result was the same in the Senate, where a vote to advance the bill failed 49-51. The one Democrat who voted no in the House, the corrupt but loyal Henry Cuellar of Texas, faces a runoff challenger to his left, Jessica Cisneros, backed by national groups like Justice Democrats. It is a proxy fight about House Democratic leadership generally, as those leaders have been for decades happy to back members who don’t ruffle feathers in Washington and whom they deem good fits for their districts, but in terms of abortion politics, it’s a sideshow.

Foley Square, May 3

Foley Square, May 3

It was weirdly boring until it was devastating, over and over

They told me they’d wanted to be around women. They hadn’t loved the speakers or the claim that Mayor Adams was one of “the men who get it,” but the gathering was, at the very least, a space of shared outrage. Some 14-year-old boys told me the most memorable speeches were the ones that situated the court’s decision within broader struggles and insisted that this wasn’t a single-day or single-issue action.

What’s Disgusting? Union-Busting!

What’s Disgusting? Union-Busting!

A rally at Amazon’s LDJ5 facility

We pedaled in single file, hugging the curb to avoid the trucks. And there was the rally! The spring clothes were bright, the air loud with hip-hop. Some women were selling fruit. Drivers were honking support. The ALU’s logo, three fists thrusting up from an open box, snatched the alienated mojo from the huge boxlike buildings stuffed with billions of smaller boxes and transformed it into solidarity and joy.

New Left Review

New Left Review

Who did neoliberalism?

The extent to which the iconic movements of the ’60s United States fed on existing liberalism and fed into neoliberalism is, however, all the more reason not to isolate the New Left as a singular cataclysm that destabilized the New Deal order. Far from a gently humming machine that could have kept operating indefinitely were it not for the intervention of a new generation of radicals, the United States’ simulacrum of social democracy was a fragile assemblage of competing intellectual tendencies and political coalition partners that was always threatening to fall apart.

Border Crises

Border Crises

Five decades of ordinary bipartisan anti-immigrant politics

In May 2018, as Trump’s family separation policy became a major scandal, former Obama speechwriter and “Pod Save America” host Jon Favreau tweeted a photo of two migrant girls sleeping on the floor of a cage. “Look at these pictures. This is happening right now, and the only debate that matters is how we force our government to get these kids back to their families as fast as humanly possible.” As a number of his replies pointed out, the photos were actually from 2014, when his boss was still President. As with Biden’s response to the recent assault on Haitians, Favreau was fixated on the image.

The Good Rights Myth

The Good Rights Myth

Even the most obsessive water-law wonks among us will admit to the utter incomprehensibility of the system’s minutiae

Today, water law remains largely unchanged, a residually conservative doctrine that disfigures California’s progressive posturing. It’s all still a dizzying maze of pre- and-post-1914 rights claims, made more dizzying by the steady accumulation of niche contractual obligations, bizarre and dubious exceptions, the overlapping roles of roughly hundreds of county water districts and local agencies, and even the private leasing of rights between landowners.

Whiffing, Fast and Slow

Whiffing, Fast and Slow

Is baseball boring?

Something rekindled; baseball seemed all of a sudden a dramatic sport, filled with intellectual intrigue: the chess-like plots of the pitcher-batter duels, the way individual specializations harmonized with collective effort. I became the wearer of a White Sox hat, the austere black and white a sort of neighborhood camouflage, and then also an Astros hat, a commemoration of my years lived in Houston, the US’s most interesting and comfortless city. There was no better way to close out my day than by traveling to the Reddit thread with all the baseball streams. Or so it seemed until I watched Craig Kimbrel pitch and grew worried that what everyone else thought might in fact be true.