Books

Thomas Jefferson Tag

In the last four years, partisan politics have reached a new low in our nation. Everyone deplores this, but the American people made their preference clear in the last presidential election, with a landslide vote for Biden and the Democrats, against Trump and his party (whatever that is, the Republican Party or some nightmare of a Trumpist party). Agonies in the Republican Party become more evident every day. Is it time for a new party? A third major party? The revamping of the GOP? For that matter, united as they seem to be, Democrats also have internal fault lines—progressive versus conservative—within their fold. Since the 1850s, the Democratic Party—center left and liberal—and the Republican Party—center right and conservative—have formed our two-party system, with variations. (Third parties do operate in the United States and sometimes elect candidates to local offices, but have not made inroads per se nationally. The largest third party since...

Serious studies are being done on this by reputable sources. The Pew Research Center, The Columbia Journalism Review in partnership with the TOW Center for Digital Journalism, The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, etc. Let's “unpack” this, then, to use the common parlance, which sounds as if we all had newly arrived someplace when actually we've hardly budged from our homes all year, due to Covid. A few facts. Newsroom employment at U.S. newspapers continues to plummet, falling by around half since 2008. Within each of the industries analyzed by the Bureau of Labor statistics — newspapers, broadcast television, radio, cable, and digital — notable job growth occurred only in the digital news sector; since 2008, the number of digital newsroom employees has more than doubled, from 7,400 workers to about 16,100 workers in 2019. Sinclair, the pro-Trump, arch-conservative company taking over local broadcast news across the...

Let me note at the outset that if any readers are devoutly religious, please understand that no individual offense is felt or intended by my following remarks. I respect your spirituality, if not always your belief system. But I do feel strongly that the United States was founded as a secular country and must remain so.

Laid low last week by an acute case of food poisoning, I swam in and out of cognitive ratiocination in a fog of rolling nausea. But I had some insights on race, precipitated probably by news of the reliably unchangeable British family–which of late is happily more changeable. These insights, such as they were, are on whiteness—and on families. But the American version, with two major characters. Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), draftsman of the Declaration of Independence, the nation’s first secretary of state (1789–94), second vice president (1797–1801) and, as the third president (1801–09), the statesman responsible for the Louisiana Purchase. An early advocate of total separation of church and state, he also was founder and architect of the University of Virginia and the most eloquent proponent of individual freedom as the meaning of the American Revolution. Sallie Hemings (1773-1835) came to Jefferson's Virginia estate, Monticello, as an enslaved infant, part of...

The greatest deliberative body in the world. That's how the United States Senate has been described, a group portrait that's an exercise in aspirational hyperbole, to my mind.

Well, that was certainly dramatic: the debates, and then Covid 19. Still, we’re going to stay focused, persisting with our single in-depth subject related to the elections. The Post Office, The Census, the Debates, and today (brace yourself): The Electoral College.

The census?! Who cares? Boring! Well, if you think you know all about the census, you haven’t been paying attention. Enshrining this particular political tool in our Constitution marked a turning point in world history. Previously, censuses had been used to tax, confiscate property, or conscript male youth into military service. The visionary genius of our Founders lay in making this tool of government into a tool of political empowerment for the governed over their government. The plan was to count every person living in the newly created United States of America, and to use that count to determine representation in the Congress. Right now, it’s being manipulated to do just the opposite. But unlike the Postal Service, another fundamental American institution under siege, it isn’t garnering public support, although this is the first time the census has been conducted since the rise of social media, and the first time...