The Monday Morning Teaser

Lately I’ve felt surrounded by pessimism. Partly it’s the upcoming elections — not just the belief that the Republicans will reclaim the House, but that all the other close elections will go their way as well: Georgia will elect a man who has no business anywhere near the Senate, Wisconsin will re-elect one of the worst MAGA senators, Jon Fetterman will lose to a literal snake-oil salesman because his stroke recovery isn’t going fast enough, and so on.

Polls say all those elections are in doubt, but in the minds of many of the people I talk to they’re already chalked up as losses.

But not just the elections. This week someone disgustedly told me (as if it were already a fact) that Trump is going to get away with it all. Others say that inflation can’t be tamed, a recession is inevitable, and the stock market will never turn back up. And who can predict what mischief the Supreme Court will get up to this year?

In foreign countries, Putin is going to use nuclear weapons and we’ll have to back down to him to avoid armageddon. Bolsonaro may lose his run-off, but it won’t matter because he’ll launch a coup. Xi is strengthening his hold on China. And so on.

I’ve started to wonder if maybe we’re being a little irrational about all this. Maybe there’s more reason to be hopeful than we think.

With that in mind, this week’s featured post is “American Democracy has been in trouble before”. I’m relying on two sources to look at two periods of American history: Rachel Maddow’s “Ultra” podcasts about the fascist plots of the 1940s, and Jon Grinspan’s new book The Age of Acrimony about the corrupt and violent politics of the Gilded Age.

We tend to tell American history as a story of continuous progress. That’s not only false, it serves us badly in times like these, when we really need to know that previous generations have faced similar challenges and survived them.

So that post will be out between 9 and 10 EDT.

The weekly summary will cover the latest January 6 hearing, developments in the election campaigns, some thoughts about nuclear power, the latest in the Ukraine War, and a few other things. It should post a little after noon.

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  • Edward Haines  On October 17, 2022 at 9:46 am

    A week ago, I was feeling pretty optimistic about our nation and the direction in which it seemed to be heading. Over the past week that optimism has rapidly reversed and I feel rather depressed. I agree with you on your above comments.

  • Tom Himmel  On October 17, 2022 at 1:00 pm

    Reading the first part of your Teaser I was thinking “Gee thanks for the uplift, Mr. Pessimism!” – but having read the second part, I will look forward to your later post to remind me that all has been bad before this.

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