Archive | Politics

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Take Back the Flag

One of the saddest developments of the national crisis is that we’ve come to identify the American flag with the far right, and assume that residents of houses flying the flag must be Trump supporters. It’s hardly new that the far right believes they are more American than liberals. Calling opponents “Un-American” was a favorite […]

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To My Fellow Midwesterners

    I’m a Midwesterner. It’s been a long time since I left, but I’m still a Chicagoan—from Carl Sandburg’s “Hog-butcher of the World” Chicago. The Chicago of my day was the rail center that brought the farm to market. Though I was born, raised, educated, and married there, my roots are in the small […]

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Words Change Us

I’ve talked before about how shifts in the language have changed the political climate. How, when “opponent” became “enemy,” “debate” became “battle,” and “compromise” was called “selling out” politics went to war. Our minds followed the words, and the climate soured; war words became an accurate description of political life—except to those of us who […]

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Respect

  In my last blog, I talked about the power of respect, the effect that being respected as a woman had in my own life as well as the cruelty of mockery and belittlement. In writing it, I realized how central respect is to our democracy. In How Democracies Die, Levitsky and Ziblatt call lack […]

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Constitution

Educating Citizens

Education has always been a hot topic, and it probably should be. Teaching racial history is the current controversy, and I can’t imagine any justification for not teaching it—which does not mean uncritically adopting anybody’s theories about the nature of the white race. It’s too bad this needed conversation about how we are educating our […]

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heartland

Spreading the Word

    I’ve been writing about the political and social crisis in America for months, and the inevitable question becomes louder and louder in my head. And in yours too, I suspect. What do we do about it? My only answer has been—Write! My gratitude to those who have responded to my blogs, for language […]

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Sixties war protest

Progress and Progressives

Looking back through my lifetime (which is long), the Progressives of today are the age my grandchildren would be. And that’s using the traditional definition of “generation,” not social science’s current definition, which names a new generation every ten or twelve years. Indeed, the younger Progressives are the age of my “would-be” great-grandchildren. That tells […]

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Chicago Poems

On Being American

I’ve just opened Wallace Stegner’s Marking the Sparrow’s Fall, a collection of essays published by Stegner’s son after the author’s death. It’s been on my bookshelf for a long time, but never picked up for unknown reasons. In the opening essay, “Child of the Far Frontier,” Stegner writes of the power of certain images, smells, […]

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Buzz Words and the Power of Mob-Think

                        FREEDOM! REVOLUTION! CHOICE! LIFE! JUSTICE! Words that reach deep into the American soul, the heart of the moral order, even when they are demanding liberation from that order. All express the feeling that something is wrong or has gone wrong with society and […]

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habits of the heart

Talking About Religion and Politics

                    I talked last week about my journey from Protestant to Catholic and back again, and as I look back on experiences that shaped my life, I count the study of culture, especially the interweaving of politics and religion as a major force. Sociology and anthropology […]

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Boston Marathon exzplosion 4/15/13 Boston Marathon

What is it About Extremes?

    What is it about extremes that draw us so irrevocably toward our doom? For four years, we were ruled by a man whose love of power and belief in his own greatness took him, and us, to the verge of insanity. Now we watch Putin pull the world with him toward the same […]

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Changing Racial Attitudes

  I ended the last blog by saying that the current race movement is carrying the country toward extremism and further and further from changing racial attitudes. Radical positions like condemning whole civilizations may sound noble, but it accomplishes nothing—except ridicule, perhaps. Consciousness-raising, making America aware that it has a race problem, has been going […]

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