What we know already

Notes on election morning

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About the most significant election in modern American history, there is much we still don’t know. But some things are already becoming clear.

A terrifying number of Americans would prefer to see their republic wither than have to share it with Others.

A media that is shy to describe autocratic attempts as what they are, early and often, makes it easier to pull them off.

Organizing our national conversation around polls that have no basis in reality is an extraordinarily wasteful use of mental space.

Too many of us are not only unable to persuade people on the other side but also unwilling to try, uninterested in winning people over.

Movements that agree on fundamental values need to learn to be better coalition allies to each other in spite of their differences.

Men need to be taught to channel their feelings of vulnerability in an age of stagnation, chaos, plague, and change into solidarity, not strongman lust.

The urgent work of making America less racist, indeed anti-racist, must proceed, while listening to those overlooked voices in the movement who emphasize expanding the circle more than circling the wagons.

The fantasy that incremental change is most appealing to most people must be buried, and the prophets of real change must find the language and candidates to make the cause of social democracy less frightening to many Americans than it now is.

The peddlers and enablers of disinformation won’t regulate themselves; we must regulate them.

If as a culture you don’t prosecute cheats and scammers when they’re merely cheats and scammers, one day they may use public office as a shield from prosecution.

We have ceased to be a country in disagreement; we are now a country of mutual disgust; and these widespread feelings of disgust essentially shut down politics.

A country that can no longer deliberate about the future, drawing on the same well of facts, may be a country not long for liberty.

The way out of this cold civil war is a politics that is thrilling, inclusive, substantive, visionary, galvanizing, empathetic, tolerant of different degrees of on-board-ness, and deft at meeting people where they are.

Democracy is not a supermarket, where you pop in whenever you need something; it’s a farm, where you reap what you sow. Let’s plant.


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