The political conventions were unusually interesting this year, as insurgents on both the left and the right pitched the two major parties off balance. I covered the Republicans in Cleveland and the Democrats in Philadelphia, and give you my perspective on where both parties are headed in this issue.
Riding back on the subway one night from the convention arena in Philadelphia, I bumped into former Congressman and two-time progressive presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.
“What’s happening in America is that the hold which two-party politics has had on the country is weakening,” Kucinich said. The crack-up is reflected in Donald Trump’s triumph over establishment politicians in the Republican Party, and in the insurgent campaign of Bernie Sanders, who, Kucinich points out, took 46 percent of the delegates “despite the fact that the party’s machinery was trying to block him at every turn.
“We’re at a moment in American history where there’s a shifting of political tectonic plates. And maybe the earthquake will not occur in 2016 that would cause both parties to collapse . . . . But it’s coming!” Kucinich predicts.
Optimist that he is, Kucinich believes a new politics will be born that will be both benign and progressive.
Let’s hope so.
The great essayist Thomas Frank, author of What’s the Matter with Kansas? and, most recently, Listen, Liberal, is less sanguine. Frequent contributor David Barsamian has a terrific interview with Frank this month, in which Frank discusses the habits of the political and economic elite, and offers some bracing observations on how the rich continue to rule us and why it makes sense that working people are getting behind Donald Trump, “the great human middle finger raised at those they think have ruined their lives.”
For more insight on conservative, working-class America and its discontents, check out Arlie Russell Hochschild’s deep reporting, in an excerpt from her forthcoming book, on a small community in Louisiana that has embraced Republican politics, austerity, a corporate jobs strategy, and a fracking industry that is destroying a town’s way of life.
Kirk Carter Nielsen reports on the ground from Miami about that exotic group Latinos for Trump and gauges the possibility of a revolt by young Cuban American voters against their Republican elders.
Barbara Miner travels all the way to Barcelona and files an update on George Orwell’s timeless account of the revolutionary spirit in Spain.
And our two talented summer interns, Tanner Jean-Louis and Haloren Mellendorf, bookend this issue with an On the Line piece by Tanner about the Nuns on the Bus and Haloren’s timely book review on the scapegoating of Muslim Americans.
This month we are breaking our no-satire rule with a column we are calling “Over the Top.” Inspired by the Donald Trump campaign, a work of satire in itself, Matt Biers-Ariel imagines a world of Donald Trumps.
This is our last issue before our annual Fighting Bob Fest here in Madison, Wisconsin. Once again, we welcome a slate of great progressive voices to town, including our wonderful columnists Dave Zirin and Jim Hightower. Come join us for food, fun, and inspiring progressive politics all day Saturday, September 17, at Breese Stevens Field in Madison.
See you there!
Ruth Conniff is editor-in-chief of The Progressive.