DR. ARNOLD OLIVER – If Confucius were still around he might well have plenty to say about the English language in general, and our political lexicon in particular. A number of the terms commonly used in American politics conceal more than they reveal and seem almost designed to confuse.
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL – Before America chose to lead any kind of â€œSummit for Democracy,â€ and before â€œAmerica is backâ€ to a new Cold War, the country urgently needs a more serious discussion about its real security prioritiesâ€”and the real challenges it faces.
CAAROL ANDERSON – This nation has a really bad habit of letting white supremacy get away with repeated attempts to murder American democracy. Itâ€™s time to break that habit. If we donâ€™t, they just might succeed next time.
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – Although critics of the Biden administrationâ€™s Build Back Better plan to increase funding for U.S. education, healthcare, and action against climate catastrophe say the United StatesÂ canâ€™t afford it, there are no such qualms about ramping up funding for the U.S. military.
SONALI kOLHATKAR – Those seeking to squeeze Americans while boosting corporate profits and the wealth of the richest few have for years poured resources into shaping a false narrative that people donâ€™t want tax revenues to be used to pay for things that people need. Itâ€™s time to expose and upend such a regressive theory.
NICK ESTES – Sonia Guajajara, executive director of the Association of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil, clearly expresses the Indigenous perspective: â€œWe have been fighting every day for hundreds of years to ensure our existence and today our fight for rights is global.â€
WIM LAVEN – Now, more than ever, it is necessary for the U.S. to be smart about our narrative and the appraisal of our role in the world.Â
NORMAN SOLOMON – A vital challenge for progressives is to not only block Republican agendas but also to effectively campaign for policy changes that go far beyond the talking points of current Democratic leaders offering to tinker with the status quo. Merely promising a kinder, gentler version of grim social realities just wonâ€™t be enough to counter the faux populism of a neofascist Republican Party.
TOM HASTINGS – The unraveling of US democracy continues as the third branch of government, contaminated by Republican dirty tricks, confirms the trend of voter suppression laws designed to prevent entire groups of people who tend to vote Democrat from actually being able to vote.
MEL GURTOV – â€œThe problem with the Middle East is that you can try to turn your back on it, but it wonâ€™t turn its back on you,â€ said Martin S. Indyk, former US ambassador to Israel. And it hasnâ€™t: once again, Israelis and Palestinians are at war.
JOE CIRINCIONE – The panel with no diversity of views was meant to reinforce a forgone conclusion: more money for more weapons.
LAWRENCE WITTNER – Last year was a terrible time for vast numbers of people around the globe, who experienced not only a terrible disease pandemic, accompanied by widespread sickness and death, but severe economic hardship. Even so, the disasters of 2020 were not shocking enough to jolt the worldâ€™s most powerful nations out of their traditional preoccupation with enhancing their armed might, for once again they raised their military spending to new heights.
DR. MARC PILISUK – In a world increasingly threatened by nuclear annihilation, there is need for a new vision in which adherence to the values of peace with justice and environmental sustainability are prominent. This goes with support for the international institutions supporting them like the World Health Organization, UNESCO and the International Criminal Court. The outmoded world of aggressive gamesmanship will need dramatic U.S. reformist initiatives if it is ever to change.
JANE MEYER – On a leaked conference call, leaders of dark-money groups and an aide to Mitch McConnell expressed frustration with the popularity of the legislationâ€”even among Republican voters.
REV. DR. EMMA JORDAN-SIMPSON – There is no healing without first acknowledging the sickness, and even then, healing requires truth and work. Everything else is fake.
MEL GURTOV – As the Biden administration settles in, letâ€™s pause to take stock of where American politics now stands. Itâ€™s not a pretty picture, but it has the potential for improvement.
EILEEN FLANAGAN and GEORGE LAKEY – Two of the organizers who trained Americans to defend against a Trump-led coup explain how to minimize the threats to democracy going forward.
WINSLOW MYERS – Are we wholly defined merely by our opinions? The great Sufic poet Rumi said: â€œOut beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. Iâ€™ll meet you there.â€ Kate Johnson, a Buddhist teacher, writes: â€œThe Buddha said that friendship is the whole of holy life. To accomplish it, we need only overcome our fear of reaching out to one another.â€
EZRA KLEIN – Democrates have two years to prove that the American political system can work. Two years to show Trumpism was an experiment that need not be repeated. Two years. This is the responsibility the Democratic majority must bear: If they fail or falter, they will open the door for Trumpism or something like it to return, and there is every reason to believe it will be far worse next time. To stop it, Democrats need to reimagine their role. They cannot merely defend the political system. They must rebuild it.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER – The questions, as President Biden takes office, turn increasingly paradoxical: Is a coup, and resulting fascism, the nationâ€™s biggest worry? What about the return to normalcy? I fear the latter as much as I fear the former.
EMMA JORDAN-SIMPSON – We must face the truth: This is America, and this is who we will always be until we can tell ourselves the truth about the lies we keep alive.
EILEEN FLANAGAN – Choose Democracy â€” the whirlwind start-up that trained 10,000 people to prevent an election-related power grab â€” started with just three folks. Two had full-time jobs and small children. The other was 82 years old. Over the summer of 2020, Daniel Hunter, Jenny Marienau and George Lakey observed alarming signs that Donald Trump might not go quietly if defeated at the polls. As experienced trainers and organizers, they knew that preparation helped people to act powerfully. So they decided to prepare people to resist a potential coup based on nonviolent strategies that have worked in other countries.
ROOTSACTION.ORG – On December 16, the progressive activist group RootsAction.org announced the launch of â€œNo Honeymoonâ€ — a sustained campaign that will mobilize grassroots pressure on Joe Biden from across the country. The groupâ€™s NoHoneymoon.org website invites activists â€œto join with RootsAction to push back against the destructive forces of corporate power, racial injustice, extreme income inequality, environmental assault and the military-industrial complex.â€
GREG COLERIDGE and JESSICA MUNGER – The electoral crisis, the decline of trust in government, and gross income inequality in the United States may seem like separate issues. But they have a surprising, common origin: the US Constitution, or more accurately, its shortcomings. Indeed, the depth of multiple crises in our nation in 2020 â€” if not their existence entirely â€” are all rooted in our flawed Constitution and the judicial decisions that it has facilitated.
ANDREW BACEVICH – As Americans learned in Vietnam, the only way to end a war gone wrong is to leave the field of battle. If that describes Trumpâ€™s intentions in Afghanistan, then we may finally have some reason to be grateful for his service to our nation. With time, Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell might even come to see the wisdom of doing so.
MEL GURTOV – A complete overhaul of the political system is impossible because the system itself is rotting at the foundations and immune to fundamental change. Addressing the structural problems has to begin somewhere, and the voting system seems like that place.
RALPH NADER – It is difficult to overestimate the continuing harm to our beleaguered democracy and its people, should Trump and his cohorts not be brought to justice.
ROBERT C. kOEHLER – Joe Biden, in blatant defiance of the wishes of Donald Trump and the Republican Party, has won the vote and claimed the presidency. He will now, as he told the nation in his acceptance speech, begin attempting to â€œrestore the soul of Americaâ€ and â€œmarshal the forces of decency,â€ which sounds great but means virtually nothing unless the words are linked to a clear and courageous agenda.
GEORGE LAKEY – The point of claiming a stolen election is not to set the stage for a coup, but to add to the right’s list of grievances for building political power in the future.
MEL GURTOV – In the next several weeks, President-elect Joe Biden will be preoccupied with creating a 100-day action agenda. It might be called “Operation Renewal.” Here are top-10 choices, in no particular order.
STEPHANIE LUCE – Strikes are rare but political strikes are on the agenda more than they have been in many years. Labor Action to Defend Democracy has come together to “plant seeds and stir the pot,” and work with community partners to protect the vote.
ASHLEY SMITH – The COVID-19 pandemic shows no signs of abating as the death toll climbs ever higher around the world. Spectreâ€™s Ashley Smith interviews epidemiologist Rob Wallace about the global capitalist roots of the current pandemic, the likelihood of future pandemics, and the types of organized resistance necessary to prevent them.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER – The scariest part about the legacy of Columbus, and Europeâ€™s â€œAge of Discoveryâ€ â€” ah, the white men break out of their cage and find the rest of the world â€” is that itâ€™s still alive. And while thereâ€™s a growing demand that we should dump Columbus Day as a national holiday and replace it with Indigenous Peoplesâ€™ Day, I think something else is necessary as well: We need to look deeply at the legacy of Columbus and begin to own it. No more whitewash!
NORMAN SOLOMON – The case of Mike Pence should be an ongoing urgent reminder that — as toxic and truly evil as Donald Trump is — the current president is a product and poisonous symptom of an inherently unjust and anti-democratic status quo.
BRETT WILKINS – The Belmarsh Tribunalâ€”named after the notorious British prison where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is imprisoned as he faces possible extradition to the U.S.â€”was convened remotely Friday morning by Progressive International (PI). The activists “put the United States government on trial” for crimes ranging “from atrocities in Iraq to torture at GuantÃ¡namo Bay to the CIA’s illegal surveillance programâ€”and draw attention to the extradition case of Julian Assange for revealing them.”
GEORGE LAKEY – Weâ€™re making amazing progress mobilizing people to choose democracy. Large national progressive organizations are now quietly creating alliances to be able to move swiftly after the November election, even if some that are now going all-out to get out the vote.
LAWRENCE WITTNER – Itâ€™s hard to take seriously Trumpâ€™s claim that U.S. workers have thrived during his presidency. Indeed, even before the disasters wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, American workers received a raw deal.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER – Democratic majorities were crucial this summer to the defeat of three separate bills, introduced by progressive Democrats, to reduce military spending and/or undo the militarization of police departments. These included amendments in both the Senate and the House to the National Defense Authorization Act, diverting 10 percent of the Department of Defense budget to health care, education and jobs; as well as a Senate proposal to end the 1033 Program, which allows the Pentagon to transfer military gear to the police. The amendmentâ€™s defeat in the House was especially an outrage in that the Dems hold a majority in the House and could have passed it.
ANDREW BACEVICH – Free of charge, Joe, here is an action plan that will get you from Election Night through your first two weeks in office. Follow this plan and by your 100th day in the White House observers will be comparing you to at least one President Roosevelt, if not both.
PETER BERGEL – In the wake of the COVID epidemic, the movement to ensure that Black Lives Matter, the inadequacies revealed in our health care system, the movement to address climate change and the growing disgust our people feel for the U.S.â€™s ongoing foreign wars and international bullying, the time has come for system-wide changes.
WIM LAVEN – We will start healing as a country, as a people as soon as we start finding the humanity in each other. We are so busy angrily shouting at each other that we have forgotten to listen; letâ€™s take our power back, find our shared humanity, and take care of ourselvesâ€”weâ€™ve got work to do.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER – Americaâ€™s reluctant democracy: It demands a lot more of us than weâ€™re taught to believe. Yes, voting is important (if you can), but claiming the right to vote and have your vote counted â€” and being able to vote for more than simply the lesser evil and the maintenance of the status quo â€” requires continual struggle in the face of lies and teargas. Election season never ends.
ANDREW MOSS – For many people, the thought of this November’s general election inspires anything from apprehension to outright dread. Writing in the Atlantic recently, Adam Harris warned of a “voting disaster,” as historic forms of voter suppression disproportionately affecting minority voters (precinct closures, long waiting lines, onerous restrictions on vote-by-mail balloting) are now colliding with the immense challenges of conducting the election during a pandemic.
TOM H. HASTINGS – Bring the issues raised by Black Lives Matter back to the best policing possible and remove the politics by removing the violence. We as US citizens deserve nothing less.
FINTAN O’TOOLE – Over more than two centuries, the United States has stirred a very wide range of feelings in the rest of the world: love and hatred, fear and hope, envy and contempt, awe and anger. But there is one emotion that has never been directed towards the US until now: pity.
TAMIKO BEYER – As K-pop fans and Black organizers and artists are demonstrating, joyful, powerful movements draw more people in and reflect the kind of world we want to live in.
KATHY KELLY – The world that our global empire is swiftly creating, through our devastating oil wars in the Middle East and our arriving cold wars with Russia and China, is a world without winners. We must resist signing contracts with weapon makers profiting from endless immiseration of the Middle East and needless superpower rivalries inviting full nuclear war. Such contracts, inked in blood, doom every corner of our world to perish as a battleground state.
DAVID SWANSON – The past monthâ€™s activism has changed a great deal. One thing itâ€™s helped with is brushing aside the tired old argument over whether government should be big or small. In its place we have the much more useful argument over whether government should prioritize force and punishment, or focus on services and assistance.
WIM LAVEN – Police departments all across America keep proving the same point: they are not training officers to honor the protection of human life.
LARA PUTNAM, JEREMY PRESSMAN, ERICA CHENOWETH – Across the country, people are protesting the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery and demanding action against police violence and systemic racism. National media focuses on the big demonstrations and protests against policing in major cities, but they have not picked up on a different phenomenon that may have major long-term consequences for politics. Protests over racism and #BlackLivesMatter are spreading across the country â€” including in small towns with deeply conservative politics.