Author Archives: Mike Moats

America This is Quite Serious: The American Conservative on Hillbilly Elegy

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That’s right. The American Conservative. And not because I think liberals (like me) benefit from well-reasoned counter arguments in this algorithm filtered, echo-chamber, partisan media world — though I do think that. It’s because we need to see each other. And this article — “Trump: Tribune Of Poor White People” — is far less of a political counterpoint than it is an appeal to see real people.

The Trump headline is mostly there to get the attention of the internet.  Continue reading

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America This is Quite Serious: Obama’s America

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Humility and steeliness. Love. Hope. Optimism. Vigor and strength. This is what our politics should be. America this is quite serious. Listen:

Read more in our election year series “America This is Quite Serious.”

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America This is Quite Serious: Up, Simba

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Back in the year 2000, Rolling Stone sent David Foster Wallace on assignment to cover John McCain’s long-shot effort to be the Republican candidate for president. Remember John McCain? Well yeah, but do you remember him from the year 2000? When he actually seemed like a maverick and rode around the country on the Straight Talk Express, being vulnerable and open with voters, and making people feel like they’d held up Diogenes’ lantern and seen the one honest man in politics?

Remember that feeling? There is no candidate in 2016 that has accomplished anything like that feeling*.  Continue reading

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America This is Quite Serious: A Terrible Week

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America this is deadly serious.

Of the events of the last few days, there is nothing to say that hasn’t already been said in the news or on social media. And there is nothing that matters as much as Alton Sterling’s fifteen-year-old son calling out for his father. Or Philando Castile’s girlfriend praying that this is not how his life ends. Or knowing that one of the murdered Dallas police officers survived three tours in Iraq and had a two-year-old daughter named Lyncoln.

What I can say is this: Our best hope of stopping this shit is to better understand each other. And for that, everyone should read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me

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You should read his words about never feeling safe in his own body. You should read his thoughts on watching young white children roam the sidewalks, and knowing that he could never feel truly comfortable letting his own son do the same. You should read about living in a default state feeling threatened, even, or especially, by the people who are supposed to be there for your protection.

It is, as I said in a different post “one of the most humane and touching communications I have ever encountered.” I think that is what we could use right about now.

And it is one part of the story. If you have suggestions on other reading that will bring more understanding to the other parts, please share them in the comments or with us on Twitter.

Read more in our election year series “America This is Quite Serious.”

 

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America This is Quite Serious: Inventing America

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Every year around July 4th, inspired by the occasion as much as the dream of getting some real reading done over the long holiday weekend, I pull from the shelf Garry Wills’ Inventing America: Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence.

The book was published two years after the bicentennial, and is a long and dense study of the intellectual foundations of the Declaration of Independence — “the psychology of Louis de Jaucourt, the contract theory of David Hume, the mechanics of benevolence as elaborated by Francis Hutcheson,” as Wills summarizes them early on. Wills also talks about the way those lines of thought square up with how the document exists in our collective consciousness today, though I suspect he would have some updates to that interpretation.

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As you might imagine, Inventing America has the potential to make its readers absolutely insufferable at today’s barbecues and fireworks shows, and fortunately I rarely get in too deep. The Prologue is enough to add a little magic and solemnity to a day all too often characterized by over-eating and ‘Murica chest thumping, and that is my recommended reading here.

The question Wills raises from the outset is: Continue reading

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America This is Quite Serious: On Day Care

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Trade. Immigration. Jobs. Guns. We’re talking about these things a lot in 2016, and that’s good because they are important. But if we really want to talk about an issue that would drastically affect the day-to-day life of families, we should talk about day care:

Every parent knows that child care is expensive, and getting more so. According to a report from the Economic Policy Institute, annual infant care in 33 states now costs more than a year’s tuition at a public university. For minimum-wage workers nationally, child care costs can easily eat up over half of their paychecks.

This is from Brittany Bronson’s op-ed “Clinton’s Day Care Plan: A Good Start, but Not Enough” in the New York Times. As a parent who has already signed checks for my 2-year-old to attend day care/school in September, I can assure you that this rings true. Parents, especially working and low-income parents, really could use some help on this, and relieving some of the pressure around finding and affording quality day care could have a real impact on economic opportunity, education, public safety and a whole host of “big” issues. In the hopes that there may be bi-partisan interest in such a screaming need, Bronson takes both Clinton and Trump to task for confronting the issue — and doing so in adequate ways.

America this is quite serious, and “Clinton’s Day Care Plan: A Good Start, but Not Enough” deserves a read.

Read more in our election year series “America This is Quite Serious.”

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