January tends to be a month when millions of Americans dive headfirst into self-improvement marathons. We buy all kinds of books and exercise toys. We subscribe to podcasts. We announce goals. Then February rolls around, and we crash back to reality.
Most of us are skipping that ritual this year. Battered by political unrest and pandemic fatigue, we’re just not up for it. Maybe instead of reading books about how to become smarter or thinner or more productive, we could educate ourselves about our country.
These 5 books don’t just offer a critique. They hold the keys to our future. We might realize that America isn’t something that can be made great again, because the project remains incomplete. …
Donald Trump woke up this morning and quietly left. There was a small ceremony. Nobody paid much attention. He didn’t have to be dragged out, and he didn’t try to declare martial law. Now he’s in Florida, playing all the golf his shriveled heart desires while watching cable news and ranting about immigrants, like anyone’s racist grandpa.
Our worst nightmare didn’t come to pass. Democracy remains intact. Meanwhile, Trump’s did. He’s finally irrelevant.
Nobody cares what he says or does anymore, as long as he stays off social media and out of politics.
We have a few surprising turns to thank for this new, muted version of Trump. It wasn’t just that Twitter banned him. Every other social media platform followed. All of his business partners ditched him. Then Mitch McConnell (of all people) flat out declared that Trump spent months spreading lies and conspiracy theories before inciting a deadly riot at the capitol. It’s not like all these people suddenly grew a spine. They simply heard the change in tune and decided to start playing along. …
Donald Trump reminds me of my mom. If she’d lived long enough, she would’ve been his biggest fan.
When she died, I hadn’t spoken to her in almost a decade. Even now, she gives me nightmares. I’ve spent most of my life recovering from the things she did. It’s not an easy process, or a linear one.
She had a lot in common with our outgoing president. They shared a deep streak of narcissism, and a well of righteous anger. They both sat around all day watching Fox News. They both tried to kill me. Trump did it through negligence, nurturing anti-masker rhetoric and conspiracy theories. My mom was a little more direct. …
Yesterday a friend shared a post about how spoiled Americans are. “We live in the greatest country on earth,” he said. According to him, all we have to do is put our petty differences behind us and recognize how good everyone has it, especially compared to other countries.
That post came just before I received an email saying my vaccination appointment had been postponed indefinitely. Yep, despite being classified as an “essential worker,” vaccine shortages mean I have no idea when I’ll actually get one. I’m not even sad or disappointed.
I was expecting it.
Meanwhile, you know who’s not having problems with vaccine rollout? Israel. They’ve vaccinated 20 percent of their population. …
The news keeps getting worse.
The more we learn about January’s savage attack on the capitol, the darker it gets. An angry mob wasn’t just chanting to hang the vice president. They’d actually built a gallows.
Some of our own lawmakers didn’t just try to live-tweet the locations of their political opponents. They gave militias and hate groups reconnaissance tours of the building, to make sure they’d know exactly where to go. And most recently, members of congress like Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez are coming forward to explain just how narrowly they escaped being kidnapped and murdered by armed extremists.
Others had to choose between hiding in “secure rooms” with mask-less covidiots, or taking their chances on their own. Even now, in the wake of this deadly incident, we have politicians refusing to surrender their weapons and holding standoffs against capitol police. …
He was an eager student who started waiting outside my office every afternoon. Sometimes he hung around for hours, talking to anyone who’d listen. Eventually, you couldn’t warm up your coffee without getting the latest updates on his epic personal struggles.
He usually talked about how much he hated his family, and how betrayed he felt by them. When he was done, he apologized for wasting your time. That would eat up another ten minutes of your day.
You wanted to say something, but you had no idea what. You were so busy with your own problems…
Maybe if someone had listened to him, it would’ve made a difference. Then again, he had a way of latching onto you. The more you gave, the more he wanted. It felt eerie. …
Growing up in Georgia, you learn a lot about the first civil war. My 8th grade history teacher spent months on it. He drew every major battle on the board and made us memorize them.
We started with the First Battle of Bull Run.
It’s sometimes called “the picnic battle,” because civilians and politicians actually rode out to watch. They brought food. They were looking forward to a good ol’ Yankee ass whoopin’. According to Kat Eschner of Smithsonian Magazine, “many Americans believed the conflict would be short and relatively bloodless.” Instead, it ended with five thousand causalities. By then it was pretty clear how wrong everyone had been, and how carelessly they’d acted. …
In case you haven’t noticed lately, there’s a lot of Americans out there who don’t know how to deal with their anger.
They can’t channel it into anything but violence and outrage, and it’s one of the main reasons we’re in such a dumpster fire. Meanwhile, everyone seems to be trying to solve our problems with more.
You can find videos of the D.C. rioters on social media leading up to the January 6 disaster. They’re doing what you’d expect, ranting into their smartphones while driving, so consumed by rage they can barely keep their eyes on the road. If that weren’t bad enough, we’re circulating those videos and rewarding them with our own fury. …
One of my cousins thinks he’s going to buy a beach house with ten thousand dollars he inherited. He lives with his mom, unemployed. “I know what it’s like to be a struggling parent,” he tells me.
He doesn’t have kids.
He has a dog.
Someone has always taken care of my cousin. Nobody has the heart to tell him he’ll never, ever get that beach house he keeps talking about.
He’ll figure it out one of these days.
When that happens, he’ll get angry. Maybe he’ll storm a building to punish a government he blames for selling him a lie. Or maybe he’ll just stay home and cheer the next group that does. …
Now is the time.
Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock did it. Democrats have taken control of the U.S. Senate. The odds were against us, but we managed to pull it off. They deserve a drink and a short celebration.
So do we all. Then we need to get to work.
Let’s not get too comfortable. There’s too much at stake. Nobody can afford to relax and pretend like things will get “back to normal.” They won’t. Normal is gone. We’re living in a time of abnormal. As plenty of smart people have already pointed out, normal is what led to the current mess we’re in. …