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Author: Heather Cox Richardson

When lawmakers fall weirdly out of step with their party’s history and the will of the country

I spent much of April 5 thinking about the Republican Party. Its roots lie in the immediate aftermath of the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in spring 1854, when it became clear that elite southern slaveholders had taken control of the federal government and were using their power to spread their system of human enslavement across the continent. At first, members of the new party knew only what they stood against: an economic system that concentrated wealth upward and made it impossible for ordinary men to prosper. But in 1859, their new spokesman, Illinois lawyer Abraham Lincoln, articulated a...

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A tragic cost of failure: Proof that the federal government has a role in combatting the pandemic

The 1918 influenza pandemic killed at least 50 million people across the world, including about 675,000 people in the United States. And yet, until recently, it has been elusive in our popular memory. America’s curious amnesia about the 1918 pandemic has come to mind lately as the United States appears to be shifting into a post-pandemic era of job growth and optimism. A year ago, I noted that we were approaching 17,000 deaths from Covid-19. Now our official death count is over 560,000. If anyone had told us a year ago that we would lose more than a half...

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From stolen votes to stolen bases: Why our political system does not reflect the will of the majority

The Republican outrage over Major League Baseball moving the All-Star game out of Georgia after the passage of the state’s new voter suppression law reveals a bigger crisis in American democracy: the mechanics of our current system do not reflect the will of the majority. Consumer-driven corporate America is increasingly throwing its weight against the new voter suppression measures across the country. While MLB and Coca-Cola are out front on the new Georgia voting law, American Airlines, Microsoft, and Dell are all opposing the new Texas voter restriction measures. These corporations are focused on those Americans with buying power,...

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Keeping Blacks from the polls: How Republicans adopted the playbook former Confederates used to halt Reconstruction

Since the Civil War, voter suppression in America has had a unique cast. The Civil War brought two great innovations to the United States that would mix together to shape our politics from 1865 onward: First, the Republicans under Abraham Lincoln created our first national system of taxation, including the income tax. For the first time in our history, having a say in society meant having a say in how other people’s money was spent. Second, the Republicans gave Black Americans a say in society. They added the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, outlawing human enslavement except as punishment...

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Galápagos Syndrome: America evolved from its Slavery Era with ancestral racism remaining firmly rooted

“Galápagos syndrome” is a term of Japanese origin used in business studies to refer to the isolated development of a globally available product. As an analogy to a part of Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species,” it has become a generalized expression to the process of isolated social thinking that evolves separately from the main society of a culture. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed his state’s new voter suppression law on March 26 in a carefully staged photo op. As journalist Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Inquirer pointed out, Kemp sat at a polished table, with six white men around...

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For the love of the gun: An irrational American ideology that sees White men as cowboys

Ten more people in Boulder, Colorado, died on March 22, shot by a man with a gun, just days after we lost 8 others in Atlanta, Georgia, shot by a man with a gun. In 2017, after the murder of 58 people in Las Vegas, political personality Bill O’Reilly said that such mass casualties were “the price of freedom.” But his is a very recent interpretation of guns and their meaning in America. The Second Amendment to the Constitution is one simple sentence: “A well regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of...

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