Author Archives: Mike Moats

America This is Quite Serious: Humans of America

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There have been many, many offenses of this election cycle. But despite all the “locker room talk,” the most toxic and lasting harm comes from the growing hostility and dehumanization of the people we disagree with. It’s hard for things not to get this way, when coverage tends to focus on Whites Without a College Degree saying awful things about Latino Immigrants, or Millennials calling for the fall of Elites, or what Suburban Moms think of the whole thing.

I know we once all hoped that “there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America; there’s the United States of America. …There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America” But I think it’s time to look hard at where we are. And hopefully, recognizing that we are in fact all those things will help us realize that we are in fact all those things.

That is what Bloomberg Businessweek* has attempted with “America Divided,” an entire issue dedicated to the election. As usual, their electronic presentation is stunning. It’s worth checking out for the design alone. Starting with numbers, “America Divided” dives headfirst into the human stories behind our microtargeted voter profiles.

It is a special issue in every sense of the word Continue reading

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America This is Quite Serious: Did You Hear? Bon Iver “22, A Million”

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Forget the election. Forget conservative media, liberal bias. False equivalence. Forget how pundits spin, how voters react. Establishment. Elites. Forget them. You’re wasting time. It might be over soon:

America this is quite serious, and Bon Iver’s new album “22, A Million” is out today and worth a listen. That’s the opening track up there.

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

-Michael Moats

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America This is Quite Serious: Get Thee Behind Me, White Christian Voters

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“What makes white people tick?” It’s a hell of a question. And one that FiveThirtyEight tackled this week, in its FiveThirtyEight way, with a statistical analysis of census data and voting preferences. The full breakdown is worth a read, but the main points are these: Contrary to conventional wisdom, there is no clear evidence that economic anxiety points to voter preferences: “Despite the myth that Trump’s base is poor whites, income is the least predictive of white voter support among the seven demographic variables tracked by the poll.”

The most predictive variable, it turns out, was whether a white voter had a high rate of “Religious attendance.” Those who said they never went to church were 71 percent for Clinton, while only 31 percent of people who went weekly supported her. These results are not surprising. But shouldn’t they be?

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“…politics can distort and invert Christianity, turning a faith that at its core is about grace, reconciliation and redemption into one that is characterized by bitterness, recriminations and lack of charity.”

The nexus of faith and politics is a God damned mess. Probably literally. Continue reading

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America This is Quite Serious: Do Jobs Work?

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In this week’s Sunday Times, economic historian Michael Lind — author of the excellent Land of Promise — posed an important question about a fundamental tenets of our politics. His question is raised in response to the near constant refrain of every politician, that their ideas and influence will create good jobs for the American people, and that creating those jobs are the surest way to solve problems like too much welfare spending and too little health care coverage. This is a notion so pervasive, and persuasive, that even ideas that are good on the merits — clean energy, a humane immigration system, access to affordable health care — are typically reframed in terms of economic impact.

So, Lind asks: “Should the goal of public policy be to ensure that all Americans can have good jobs — or good lives?”

Lind is narrow in his focus. He defines good jobs as “jobs with solid wages, regular hours and, perhaps, generous employer-provided benefits.” By good lives, he doesn’t mean contentment and well-balanced kids and a trim waistline, but merely the “basic goods and services that define a decent life in a modern society.” In rough terms, a safety net that keeps people out of abject poverty for the span of their lifetimes.

The easy answer is: Continue reading

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Holden Caulfield is “Anti-White”

In these days of grievance, it seems anyone can be “anti-white,” even America’s most iconic, lily-white, emo, prep-school complainer, Holden Caulfield.

As Quartz reports, over the next month, in honor of Banned Books Week, the Washington, D.C. public library system is hiding banned books around the city as part of a scavenger hunt. The books will be distinctively marked. Like obscenity, you’ll know them when you see them:

Each book has a black cover, printed with quotes from people who have tried to have them banned or removed from US libraries and schools. John Knowles’ A Separate Peace will be labeled “filthy, trashy sex novel,” and J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye is labeled “anti-white.”

The “anti-white” quote on the Catcher cover comes from a 1963 effort to ban CatcherBrave New World and To Kill a Mockingbird. Presumably, the anti-white complaint is more targeted at the book in which African-American characters are mistreated by whites. But hey, it’s a fun scavenger hunt, so just go with it.

While Salinger surely would have objected to this whole thing — since he objected to everything (including whites, I guess?) — he did once write a story that the kind of person who would label something as “anti-white” might consider anti-white. It was based on the life of Bessie Smith, including her death, which was alleged to be the result of being refused admittance into a whites-only hospital. The story was published in Cosmopolitan in 1948, and the editors changed Salinger’s title from “Needle on a Scratchy Phonograph Record” to “Blue Melody” without telling the author, which upset him deeply.

-Michael Moats

 

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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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