Whereof One Can Speak 🇺🇦

Nothing special, one post at a time since 2012

They Call It “Polarization”

During the pandemic, before Biden was elected, the unemployment rate for Whites peaked at 14%, while the rate for Blacks hit almost 17%. The rate for Whites is now 3.2% (almost the lowest in 50 years) and for Blacks is 5% (the lowest ever recorded). Despite this being the so-called “Information Age”, the overall rate for high school graduates who never went to college is only 4%. [Washington Post, Bureau of Labor Statistics]

Inflation is still high, but trending down. In June 2022, the consumer price index (CPI) reached 9%, meaning prices were 9% higher than in June 2021. As of this February, prices were 6% higher than a year before. The rate would be lower except that “housing costs are a key driver of the inflation figures [and] it typically takes six months for new rent data to be reflected in the CPI. The quirk in how housing cost data are collected contributes to overstating current inflation.” [CNBC] Meanwhile, inflation has been somewhat offset by the growth in wages. “In the 12 months through March, wages increased 4.2%.” [Reuters]

Companies and local governments are beginning to take advantage of Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, “the largest package of climate investments in US history”. [Sierra Club]

America is leading the international effort to help Ukraine resist Russian aggression. That’s been made easier by the fact that, after 20 years, we finally stopped fighting a war in Afghanistan.

And a month’s supply of insulin is now only $35 for millions of diabetics. [CNN]

Meanwhile, over on the other side:

Congressional Republicans are threatening to cause a financial crisis by not allowing the government to pay all of its debts. They are also demanding big cuts in spending without being able to agree on which cuts they want (after realizing that they couldn’t get away with cutting Medicare and Social Security, as they’ve wanted to do for years). [NBC News]

Republicans in some states are making it easier for schoolchildren to have jobs by loosening child labor laws. [Vox.com]

A Republican Supreme Court justice and his wife have been receiving lavish travel gifts from a right-wing billionaire for decades, although the justice has failed to report them. [ProPublica]

A Republican judge in Texas issued a nation-wide ban on the most popular way to end an unwanted, early pregnancy, even though the drug in question has been used for 23 years and is safer than Tylenol. In addition to banning its use, he would make it a federal crime to deliver the drug via the US Mail or any other delivery service. [Politico]

Republican legislators expelled two black members of the Tennessee House of Representatives after they interrupted the normal course of business to demand action on gun reform in the wake of the recent mass murder at a school in Nashville. [NPR]

Republican-controlled states, including Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Texas, have instituted statewide rules that require administrators to remove specific books from classrooms and school libraries. [CNN]

Republicans in Florida passed a law intended to prohibit classroom discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity. [NBC News]

Republicans in Kansas now permit a student or their parent to sue a school if they believe they weren’t chosen for a sport because a transgender girl was chosen instead. [Verify]

Yes, America is indeed “polarized” because the Republican Party has become a radical, reactionary enemy of freedom, democracy and good government.

Greg Sargent of The Washington Post recognizes the problem but sees a silver lining:

Red states are sinking deeper into virulent far-right culture-warring — banning books, limiting classroom discussion of race and gender, and prohibiting gender-affirming care for transgender youth. [Republican] legislatures are also finding onerous ways to use power to tamp down on the unexpectedly ferocious dissent their culture war has unleashed among numerical minorities, largely concentrated in cities and suburbs in red states.

As analyst Ron Brownstein argues, this often pits an overwhelmingly White, older, rural and small-town Republican coalition against an increasingly diverse, younger and more urban coalition.

“These Republican legislatures are stacking sandbags against a rising tide,” Brownstein told CNN. Call it the retreat into Fortress MAGA.

This takes many forms. [They] have become particularly aggressive in pushing “preemption” laws restricting cities and counties from making their own rules or policy choices. In some cases, these could functionally block those localities from governing themselves democratically in more socially liberal ways on all kinds of issues.

In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis concocted a phony rationale to fire a local elected prosecutor over his abortion stance. DeSantis is also scrambling to exert power over Disney’s local governance structure to punish it for opposing his “don’t say gay” law, in effect using the state to retaliate against a corporation for responding to a genuine shift in the culture….

Yet this retreat into Fortress MAGA faces a problem: Whenever state-level Republicans undertake another reactionary lurch, it often goes national in a big way. Attention has poured down on everything from insanely broad book bans to shockingly harsh proposed punishments for abortion to anti-transgender crackdowns with truly creepy implications.

If the adage was “all politics is local,” we can now say that “all local politics is in danger of going viral.” And the more onerous the use of state power in these situations, the more attention it gets.

Tennessee illustrates the point: If Republicans hadn’t sought to expel the Tennessee 3, you might never have heard of them. As commentator Charlie Sykes puts it, Republicans both “look horrible” and have turned the Tennessee 3 into national “superstars.”

This sort of thing only perpetuates youthful awareness of — and resistance to — ongoing [right-wing] radicalization. Young voters often get their political news through this sort of viral circulation. All this will surely color their perceptions of the national [Republican Party]. Is this what Republicans want, after losing a Supreme Court race in ultra-divided Wisconsin by a stunning margin, partly because abortion rights drove uncommonly robust youth turnout?

The Republican retreat into Fortress MAGA will continue apace. But how high will Republicans have to build those walls?

And how hard will we have to fight to bring them down?

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