This week has been painful. You know by now, of course, that the Senate met under cover of night to vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act along party lines (with the exception of Rand Paul, R-KY). Protests in support of the ACA have been popping up across the country, including here in Colorado, where roughly 600,000 people will lose coverage gained through the state exchange and Medicaid expansion, key hallmarks of the federal law. The fear over how to pay for your medical bills, especially when you have a preexisting condition, is what economic anxiety looks like (despite what you may have heard).
I suggest you find a protest in your city or town, flood your elected officials’ phones with calls in support of the ACA, and show up at in-person district events to let your senators and representatives know we won’t be returning to a time when people with preexisting conditions couldn’t get health care (looking at you, Mike Coffman).
We are staring down the inauguration of a deeply loathsome man. It is worse than any horror movie. We will have to fight and resist every day he sits in office, and likely for many years and lifetimes to come. Let’s start with a march, and then carry on from there. As you know, the Women’s March on Washington is expected to draw up to 250,000 women to the National Mall next Saturday, January 21, to mobilize in support of gender, racial, and economic justice (meet the women who are organizing the march). If you can’t make it to D.C., there are dozens of Sister Marches being organized across the country. Please go!
I’m about seven pages into Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen, love of my life. My reading pace has slowed since finishing In the Darkroom, which I mentioned last week, in large part because I’m still reeling from that book’s discussion of the rise of Hungarian fascism/nationalism that’s now firmly taking hold in the country’s parliament.
One of the key components of Hungarian identity, as Faludi describes it, is the constant postulating of Hungary as a historical loser, rendered impotent and maimed after the Treaty of Trianon. That notion of perpetual victimhood leaves Hungarians to reach into the past to crystallize a mythic, nostalgic, “true” Hungarian identity, based in Magyar ethnicity, that prospered before outside forces (read, Jews and immigrants) supposedly contributed to the country’s economic decline in the 20th century. The deep anti-Semitism and hostility to Syrian refugees that pervade Hungary’s current sociopolitical landscape suggest a chilling return to the country’s fascist past, where the project of Making Hungary Great (Again?) was carried out largely through ethnic cleansing. The simplest way to cast your country as a winner? Get rid of everyone you deem a loser.
Which leads me back to Springsteen. If you’ve heard even one Bruce Springsteen song, then you’ve heard a kind of homegrown lore about the blue-collar white Americans who are just trying to make ends meet, do right by their families, and have little bit of fun. These are the types of people, we’re told, voted for trump after getting fed up with feeling like losers. Nevermind, of course, that trump represents the billionaire elite that orchestrate and profit from the white working-class’s continued economic despair. White elites have spent centuries stoking such pervasive racial animus in this country that it doesn’t sting white folks to lose to a white billionaire. It stings to lose–or think you’re losing–compared to someone who isn’t white.
What’s always gotten me about Springsteen is that embedded in the mythology of the down-on-his-luck everyman are clear villains: the shrugging VA liaison; the ruthless factory foreman; a corrupt and vengeful judiciary; hell, even American militarism itself. Springsteen has always used his music to empathize with the people he grew up around, and even to reckon with his own past, but he does so without scapegoating the people of color who often fare much worse in real life than the antiheroes of his vast body of work.
All this is to say, if you’re trying to win, you better be sure who your real enemies are.
Here’s some more stuff to read this week if you, like me, want to be extremely sad:
On the fracturing of the 20th century’s global geopolitical structures:
- Putin’s Real Long Game by Molly McKew. This is fascinating for its analysis of the Kremlin’s campaign to fracture global alliances and structures to maintain Russia’s continued ideological/military power, less so for the author’s belief that Trump can or will do anything about it…
- …because, Beyond Wild Allegations, What’s Clearly True About Trump and Russia Is Disturbing by Matthew Yglesias.
- What the World Might Look Like in 5 Years, According to U.S. Intelligence by Uri Friedman.
On the incoming regime’s conflicts of interest:
- Will Trump Avoid a Constitutional Crisis? by Ryan Lizza.
- U.S. Ethics Official: Trump’s Divestiture Is Hard, Pricey And Essential by Christopher Dean Hopkins.
- All of Donald Trump’s Known Conflicts of Interest in One Place by Libby Nelson.
On the depressing parade of clowns that are the cabinet confirmation hearings:
- Sen. Jeff Merkley Patiently Exposed Rex Tillerson on Climate Change by David Roberts.
- Two-Thirds of Women Who Work for Andy Puzder’s Companies Say They’ve Been Sexually Harassed by Bryce Covert.
On the questions feminism should make us ask:
- The Complicated Legacy of Our First Black President by Melissa Harris-Perry.
- Beyoncé interviews Solange.
- Hunger Makes Me by Jess Zimmerman. (Female voraciousness is not a bad thing)
- The Decolonization of White Feminist Consciousness by Susan Anglada Bartley.
- Chain Reaction by Andrea Bennett. (Bike bros are the worst)
- Women Only Said 27% of the Words in 2016’s Biggest Movies by Amber Thomas.
On the too-little-too-late stance of the established left:
- The Failure of Democratic Storytelling by James Kwak.
- Holder Launches Democratic Redistricting Initiative by Elena Schneider.
On a Sisyphean struggle against police brutality:
- Can Chicago Take on Police Union Contracts This Year? by Jonah Newman.
And finally, on why we can’t go back:
- Abortion’s Deadly DIY Past Could Be Its Future by Rebecca Traister.
“That the right wing’s focus is not simply opposition to abortion but also reducing women’s access to contraception gives away the game: Theirs is an effort to keep women from making decisions about when, if, and under what circumstances to have children, and thereby to keep them from exerting agency over their families, their work, their partnerships, their sex lives, and their bodies. That the restrictions on access most profoundly affect those with the fewest resources means that abortion is not just about women’s equality; it is at the very heart of economic and racial inequality.”
If you’ve spent every day since November 8th needing to give yourself a mirror pep-talk: “Never Give Up” by Sia.
If you’re ready to stick it to someone who doesn’t appreciate you: “Tired of Talking” by Léon.
If you’re all about embracing your imperfections and are also a little bit of a Francophile: “Tilted” by Christine and the Queens.
If you wish you had caught the first half of the Formation World Tour: Sugar Symphony EP by Chloe x Halle.
Amita Swadhin Testifies Against Jeff Sessions, reminds the world that far too many children continue to suffer from abuse with little to no structural support from the state.
Shea Diamond sings an a cappella version of “I Am Her” in front of a backdrop featuring Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. I’m not crying, you’re crying.
You should absolutely watch the trailer for I Am Not Your Negro, constructed from James Baldwin’s writings and narrated by Samuel L. Jackson.
Jeanine Michna-Bales takes us Along the Old Underground Railroad, One Photo at a Time.
Until next time, y’all.