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Showing posts from March, 2020

The Bernie Sanders Moment

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You often hear people saying "I agree with Bernie Sanders in terms of his policies, but I just don't think he has a broad enough coalition to win - and besides, I can't stand a lot of his supporters."  In my long tradition of maximum contrarianism, burning all bridges and pissing everyone off, I'm going to stake out the exact opposite position. I actually disagree with a lot of Bernie Sanders's policies.  But his greatest strength is, well, very little to do with him at all: it is, precisely, his coalition. What's so great about this coalition? First of all, it's so big. Of all the candidates in 2020, Bernie has, by far, the biggest, most solid base.  No one else really had much of a base.  The rest of the 27(!) candidates were splitting up constituencies that would flit from one flavor of the month to another, according to whatever media currents were blowing on that day, but Bernie's 30% or so has remained - and remains - calm, determi

What is a Ritual?

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In the impeachment and the subsequent removal trial that concluded last month (I know, it feels like a hundred years ago, but it was only last month), we had the lucky opportunity to witness the birth of a ritual.  From before the beginning, everyone knew that it could not "succeed" (if we are defining the purpose of this process as the removal of the president, which may be a foolish way of understanding things) because there was never any plausible way to achieve a 2/3rds supermajority of votes, and yet the proceedings had to be initiated, and once they were initiated, they had to be played out, over many weeks, to the bitter end.  This process was, quite cleverly, initiated by the president: as Pelosi put it, he " impeached himself ." To be precise, this was an apotropaic ritual: that is, a ritual used to ward off shame, guilt, embarrassment, envy, ressentiment , and a feeling of responsibility - in short, the malocchio , the evil eye.  The celebrants st