The America We Lost When Trump Won

NO, I’m not over it. On Election Day I felt as though I had awakened in America and gone to sleep in Ecuador, or maybe Belgium. Or Thailand, or Zambia, or any other perfectly nice country that endures the usual ups and downs of history as the years pass, headed toward no particular destiny. It’s different here, or at least it was. America was always supposed to be something, as much a vision as a physical reality, from the moment that John Winthrop, evoking Jerusalem, urged the Massachusetts Bay Colony to “be as a city upon a hill.” To be Read More

Living in LBJ’s America: How Two of His Least Celebrated Accomplishments Shaped the Battle Between Clinton and Trump

“Dr. King’s dream began to be realized when President Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act,” Hillary Clinton claimed during her 2008 campaign against Senator Barack Obama, before adding, “it took a president to get it done.” Mrs. Clinton got considerable flak for this remark from Mr. Obama, who called it “ill advised.” But Mrs. Clinton was right, and it is instructive to note how much of a role two of L.B.J.’s least remembered accomplishments — the Johnson Amendment of 1954, which banned overt political activity by churches and other tax-exempt institutions; and his revision of our immigration laws — have Read More

City of Water

ONE of the great things about New York used to be how easy it was to ignore the natural world. With a public transportation system that never closes, moving from climate-controlled apartment to office to entertainment, and living high above the earth itself, New Yorkers never had to worry much about anything as mundane as the weather. No more. A year ago this month, Hurricane Sandy swept down on the city, killing 43 people and causing $19 billion worth of damage. A beachfront neighborhood, Breezy Point, Queens, was leveled when flooding set off an electrical fire; on Staten Island, houses Read More

Let’s Grow Up, Liberals

At last! Senator Bernie Sanders joined Hillary Clinton on a New Hampshire stage Tuesday to say two things many of us had begun to despair we’d ever hear from him. One, that he actually did lose the 2016 primary campaign to Secretary Clinton, and two, that he was endorsing her for president of the United States. Sure, Senator Sanders’s embrace of the presumptive Democratic nominee included all the inclinations that many of us have come to find, shall we say, a tad grating about the man: his interminable, self-congratulatory stump speech, wearingly bereft of humor, argument, story or anecdote, more a listing Read More

Donald Trump’s Place

So now we know. It took the killings in Orlando, Fla., last weekend and Donald J. Trump’s reaction to them to prove what he’s been trying to tell us all along. He really is unique in American politics and maybe even the modern history of the Western world. This came into full relief when, faced with the bodies of 49 people, nearly all of them under 40, all he could think to do was ride the slipstream of our alternating rage, horror and frustration. He congratulated himself on his prescience, called again for an entire religious group to be barred Read More

Political Party Meltdown

The strategists who wanted greater ideological purity may have gotten more than they bargained for. DURING the tumultuous wartime summer of 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt fielded an incredible proposal. His Republican opponent from 1940, Wendell Willkie, would quit his party and join the president in a new, liberal coalition. Both men had grown deeply frustrated with the conservative factions of their own parties. The more isolationist Republican “Old Guard” had just blocked Willkie’s bid to win his party’s nomination again, and scoffed in particular at his idea for a postwar “world government.” A coalition, Roosevelt told a close adviser, Read More

Delusions of the Democrats

Demgraphics is not enough. For years now, it’s been an article of faith among Democrats that the future belongs to them, thanks to the country’s changing demographic mix. The rising percentage of voters who are women, Americans of color and especially Latinos were always about to turn the country deep “blue.” I never believed this — largely because I have been hearing it since 1971. That was the year the 26th Amendment passed, lowering the voting age to 18. Democrats had already been the dominant political party since the 1930s, and now with young people getting the vote, a permanent Read More

Election 2014: President Obama Is Not a Happy Warrior

I love voting. I love pretty much everything about it. My polling place is and has been for many years the Alfred E. Smith School, P.S. 163, an elementary school. The voting booths are arrayed around a mottled, parquet gym floor, and there are always mothers running a bake sale outside to raise money for the school. Up until a few years ago, we voted on huge, metal machines that seemed like relics from the first days of the industrial age. Exercising the franchise was a pleasing combination of sacred civic ritual and theatricality. You waited in line, gave your Read More

How the G.O.P. Became the Anti-Urban Party

A LEADING Republican columnist, trying to re-stoke her candidate’s faltering campaign before the first presidential debate, felt so desperate that she advised him to turn to cities. “Wade into the crowd, wade into the fray, hold a hell of a rally in an American city — don’t they count anymore?” Peggy Noonan lamented in The Wall Street Journal. “A big, dense city with skyscrapers like canyons, crowds and placards, and yelling. All of our campaigning now is in bland suburbs and tired hustings.” But the fact is that cities don’t count anymore — at least not in national Republican politics. The very Read More