Demonstrations: inspiring and necessary, but not sufficient

Sit-in at BGSU

Photo Credit: Deborah Schocket

Over the past couple of days, we’ve already seen a lot of protests and demonstrations.

The ones that are getting the most attention are those in Los Angeles and Portland, big coastal cities where the violence has been most intense. There have been many, many other, more peaceful protests, more fearful and contemplative, like the one at my university yesterday. These demonstrations should continue. They are a necessary, but, we must emphasize, not a sufficient condition for resistance to the impending regime, because, in and of themselves, such actions do not bring the required leverage.

Read More…

Where to go from here? First questions; potential answers to come

question mark personAs with many (read: the majority of voting) Americans, yesterday, Nov. 9, I was a bit despondent about the results of the presidential election. In general, when an election doesn’t go my way, that’s disappointing, but it’s to be expected. This one, though, I think everyone recognizes is different. Liberals David Remnick and Charles Blow, on the one hand, and conservative Ross Douthat, on the other, have called on Americans to respect the results of the election, but also to resist the new president’s tendencies toward authoritarianism, racism, and sexism in whatever ways we can.

One irony of that position, of course, is that the Republicans’ intransigence–their resistance–to every Obama policy, most especially healthcare, played a big part in Trump’s success. First, in their bad-faith negotiations that resulted in an Obamacare weaker than originally proposed, then in their lawsuits resulting in its being voluntary rather than compulsive to states, then in Republican governors denying state-run exchanges and, even worse, rejecting Medicare for their own residents; their continued insistence against all evidence that Obamacare resulted in job losses and increased the federal debt, and finally, in promising their constituents to roll it back while Obama was president, a clear impossibility given the president’s veto power. All these actions combined to a) deny healthcare to Americans, b) create gridlock in Washington, c) contribute to fact-free policymaking, and d) convince Americans that politicians in general and established Republican figures in particular couldn’t be trusted to do anything for regular folks.

So the questions are, how to resist without simply giving in to cynicism, further alienating Americans from politics, and causing additional damaging to our now-fragile country? How do we organize in a way that’s inclusive and hopeful, but also that brings pressure to bear? What can unite people and bring results?

I’ve got some ideas. Maybe not good ideas, but ideas nonetheless, that I’ll outline future posts. Stay tuned.

For your viewing pleasure: the gang and me on Hamilton

Hamilton panel SHEAR 2016

This isn’t an embed, folks: just a link. Clicking on this bait will send you to the full C-SPAN video.

It’s finally up, for your full viewing pleasure: the session at the recent Society for Historians of the Early American Republic (SHEAR) on Hamilton, starring R.B. Bernstein, Benjamin Carp, Nancy Isenberg, Heather Nathans, and yours truly, as taped by C-SPAN-3 (perhaps C-SPAN’s equivalent of ESPN The Ocho?). You should watch the whole thing, but for the kind of viewer out there who likes to skip to the end of novels to cut the suspense, my start turn occurs at around the 45-minute mark.  Happy viewing!

Now available: Instructor’s Guide to Fighting over the Founders

For anyone who might be thinking about teaching Fighting over the Founders, NYU Press has now made available a wonderful instructor’s guide, downloadable from the Press’s website, or if you want a sneak peak, below the fold here. A big shout-out to friend, scholar, and politico John Craig Hammond for putting it together. And, yes, the paperback version will be on the shelves come February, 2017.

Read More…