I’ve been reading two books concurrently that have had an odd synthesis. The first is Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism by Anne Applebaum and the other is One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger by this week’s guest Matthew Yglesias; both excellent books that I strongly recommend.
In the first, Applebaum contrasts the American patriotism of ideals from the “blood and soil” nationalism of the alt-right made manifest in Donald Trump. We can and should be proud of the ideals our country was founded on, regardless of how far afield we have gone in fulfilling them. Whether one is an American, or a patriot, is better defined by their allegiance and commitment to those values than their race, where they were born, or what some legal document says regarding citizenship. What makes Trump “patriotism” so dangerous is that it puts the “who” in front of the “what”: who you are matters more than what you pursue. One can be championed as an American patriot while committing war crimes overseas or poisoning the marketplace of ideas with filth. In all this talk of putting “America First” and “Making America Great Again”, where are the discussions of our ideals, the words on our monuments, or those great Americans who sacrificed everything to create a more perfect union?
And then comes Yglesias’s book, which I described during our interview as being overtly patriotic. Reading this book, you almost perceive an “eat the rich” conceit (although I have no doubt Yglesias wants one billion Americans). We can live better lives if we are guided by our ideals and have more human beings pursuing those ideals together. If we believe we are the best country in the world with the best governing documents, why aren’t we throwing our arms open to everyone who may be interested in joining the project? The Statue of Liberty is often cited for its plaque (“give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”) while overlooking the giant torch held forth by Lady Liberty drawing people to our shores. The premise is that by the pursuit of liberty, and excellence, the United States will attract all those who are inspired to do the same.
And here’s where I land this missive – you can’t claim to be great while keeping others out. The two things are mutually exclusive. There is insecurity in claiming greatness while also claiming to be “full”. Columbia, Maryland was recently ranked the 5th best place to live in the country, but that only matters if it is accessible to others. Are we pursuing ideals that are made more accessible by including more people? If not, are we really all that great? – TC
What if the only way for the United States to maintain dominance as a world super-power in the 21st century would be to add 600 million people? That’s the premise of Matthew Yglesias’s new book One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger. In this episode, Candace and Tom discuss this idea, the patriotism implicit in the conversation, and why Matt still has hope that America’s best days may be in front of us. We also discuss more local issues such as why building more housing is both important and, often, politically impossible.
1) CB 51 & NIMBYism
2) Howard County’s Racial Equity Task Force
3) Breaonna Taylor
You can listen here.
We should take it as a compliment when people attack us personally or when people misrepresent our work. Because that means they can’t challenge what we are actually saying or writing or meaning or doing. Take the compliments with grace and move on.
September 27th 2020
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1820 Has a Lot to Tell Us about 2020 (New York Times – Jamelle Bouie)
The argument, in other words, is over the nature of American democracy. Is it expressed solely in the Constitution, so that a constitutional action is inherently democratic? Or is the Constitution only a tool for realizing the principles of American democracy as they develop over time? If it’s the second, then an action can be both constitutional and undemocratic, which ought to take it off the table as a legitimate move in political combat.
There is, in truth, a constellation of actions a president could take that violate the principles of democratic government but are lawful under the Constitution, for the simple reason that no constitution could ever cover all possibilities.
The Election That Could Break America (The Atlantic – Barton Gellman)
‘There are poor people of every race. But only poor people of color are systematically confined to poor places.’ More evidence racial #segregation is not produced by economics or individual preference. It is not natural or inevitable. Our policy choices produce segregation.
Brookings Metro @BrookingsMetro
.@joanne_m_kim & @lohplaces analysis shows the continuing impact of racism on American lives, showing while low-income people of color + low-income white people may share similar economic circumstances, they quite literally often live in different worlds. https://t.co/cOK39nQaZL
September 26th 2020
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Next week, foam containers for carryout food will be banned throughout Maryland. Not everyone is happy. (The Baltimore Sun – Jean Marbella & Christina Tkacik)
The GOP’s Fake Outrage (HoCo Progress Report)
Bursting the Bubble (Village Green/Town Squared)
This post is for my moderate friends and acquaintances. Your careful weighing of issues of race these days has been breaking my heart. You are so knowledgable, you bring so much life experience to your decisions and you mean well.
But even with all of your years of good works and nuanced thinking you cannot see what an enormous an obstacle your whiteness is. You cannot see over it. It is your filter, your daily view, your world. You say that issues about SRO’s in our schools aren’t “black and white.” You are proud to say that. It makes you feel better than people with loud voices and strong opinions. Process matters a lot to you. People who make demands make you uncomfortable. In your world, they’re not crusaders for justice. They’re bullies. Sneaky. Mean.
If you recognize yourself even an inkling in my description I ask you this: what are your Black and Brown friends saying about this issue?When you have discussions with the parents of Black and Brown students – – or the students themselves – – about how school policing affects them, what do they say?
This Week’s Birthdays:
- September 28th – Tyler McCurdy, George Doetsch, Jr., Tara Ebersole
- September 29th – Jen Grieb, Lisa Regnante, Donald Sherman
- September 30th – Elizabeth Hafey, Ryan Frederic, Brandon Thornton
- October 1st – Gabriel Moreno
- October 3rd – Bill Withers, Paul Lemle
- October 4th – Maura Cleary Dunnigan, Alison Hickman