President Biden on Thursday warned Americans that democracy is under attack from a faction of the Republican party led by former President Donald Trump, and called on Democrats, mainstream Republicans and independents to “speak up, speak out, get engaged — vote, vote, vote.”
In a rare prime time speech, Biden attacked his predecessor, saying that “too much of what’s happening in our country today isn’t normal.” The speech came just two months ahead of midterm congressional elections, where Democrats are fighting to keep their slim majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives.
Biden said the Republican party is “dominated, driven, intimidated by Donald Trump” and his supporters, calling it “a threat to this country.”
The Supreme Court has voted to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, according to an initial draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito circulated inside the court and obtained by POLITICO.
The draft opinion is a full-throated, unflinching repudiation of the 1973 decision which guaranteed federal constitutional protections of abortion rights and a subsequent 1992 decision — Planned Parenthood v. Casey — that largely maintained the right. “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Alito writes.
By John Warner, Chicago Tribune, Apr 30, 2022 at 6:00 am
Thank goodness public libraries already exist, because if they didn’t, there’s no way we’d ever be able to establish similar institutions in today’s dis-United States of America.
There are a number of reasons I’m skeptical. For one, belief in institutions, in general, is at an all-time low ebb. Government, schools, churches — the entities in which people are expected to come together and sacrifice some portion of their individual well-being for an overall increase in the common good — either have significantly less salience in today’s society (churches), or are under direct assault by forces that seem to not just be partisan politically, but actively anti-democracy.
Weakened institutions aside, there also seems to be an overall lack of communal spirit.
Our inability to act collectively to mitigate the worst effects of the pandemic is illustrative here. Inconvenience or discomfort, or worse, someone else getting something one thinks they might not “deserve” would all make libraries a difficult sell.
I can imagine the internet hot take: Why punish people who can afford to buy books by making them free to read for everyone?
The United States is experiencing an existential democracy crisis, with leading Republicans and millions of their voters and supporters either tacitly or explicitly embracing authoritarianism or fascism.
Democrats, for the most part, have not responded with the urgency required to save America’s democracy from the rising neofascist tide.
American society was founded on white settler colonialism, genocide and slavery. This unresolved birth defect at the foundation of the American democratic experiment meant that the country was racially exclusionary by design, from the founding well into the 20th century.
At present, American politics is contoured by asymmetrical political polarization, in which Republicans have moved so far to the right that the party’s most “moderate” members are far more extreme than the most “conservative” Democrats.
This makes substantive compromise and bipartisanship in the interests of the common good and the American people almost impossible.
Thirty years ago, sociologist James Davison Hunter popularized the concept of culture war. Today, he sees a culture war that’s gotten worse—and that spells trouble for the future of the American experiment.
In 1991, with America gripped by a struggle between an increasingly liberal secular society that pushed for change and a conservative opposition that rooted its worldview in divine scripture, James Davison Hunter wrote a book and titled it with a phrase for what he saw playing out in America’s fights over abortion, gay rights, religion in public schools and the like: “Culture Wars.”
Hunter, a 30-something sociologist at the University of Virginia, didn’t invent the term, but his book vaulted it into the public conversation, and within a few years it was being used as shorthand for cultural flashpoints with political ramifications.
He hoped that by calling attention to the dynamic, he’d help America “come to terms with the unfolding conflict” and, perhaps, defuse some of the tensions he saw bubbling.
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