Cold Civil War?

September 2, 2020

“In the Spring of 2011, Donald Trump was booked on the Today Show, The View, CNN, Fox, etc. to discuss his “theory” that Barack Obama was not born in America. The US media mainstreamed racist innuendo and made Trump’s political ascent possible. Don’t let it happen again.” -Ben Rhodes, author, ‘The World As It Is’

“The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (ie. the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist.” -Hanna Arendt


We are in a cold civil war

America after the conventions

by, Anand Giridharadas, The.Ink

“On this morning after the end of the party conventions, I woke up with this feeling: This is how it gets right before the end — or before a new beginning.

I had woken up early to make some notes for a television appearance. More notes than usual came out. I thought I would share them, more or less as is:

My sense after watching these two conventions is that we live in two countries impermeable to each other.

We are locked in a cold civil war.

Each country feels the other is an existential threat to America. Each sees itself as the carrier of truth and freedom and righteousness. Each sees itself as honoring the founding values. Each says it will keep you safe. And the problem is that we have become a society where persuasion is nearly impossible, where people live in their own castles of reality.

I watched Fox News a little last night to understand what it looks like from inside the death cult. And it is a complete, coherent, airtight, fascistic world.

I agree with Michael Beschloss, who said on TV last night that we may be a year away from losing our democracy. This is not me saying it or AOC saying it or Joe Biden saying it; it’s Michael Beschloss saying it. A presidential historian. A year away from losing our democracy.

Until lately, I haven’t really thought that Donald Trump would win. But after watching these conventions, I dread that he is indeed going to win — until you hear otherwise.


If this cult is going to be defeated, it is going to take the most heroic effort and focus between now and November.

And that’s hard because a lot of the progressives with real passion don’t feel it for Joe Biden. And, frankly, it’s more his fault than theirs. And the passion and energy that you see in Black Lives Matter don’t necessarily land on Joe Biden’s shoulders, because of his record on criminal justice and mass incarceration.

Plenty of people are lecturing those folks to come into the tent and focus.

But, far more important, I think, is Biden coming to them. To speak to the Black Lives Matter movement folks, to speak to progressives, to make promises that, fair enough, do not hurt him with the broad coalition he feels he needs to build, because this is a work of coalition-building, but that ignites loving fury and passion like we have never seen.

I live in Brooklyn. Half the people on the street in the primaries had a T-shirt of some candidate or other. In the general election, I have seen exactly one Joe Biden T-shirt among thousands of people.

This is not the time to blame the non-T-shirt wearers. Between now and November, Joe Biden needs to do everything in his power to ignite a righteous political fervor like we’ve never seen before.

And, yes, in this many-way marriage, we’re all going to have to give something. The progressives are going to have to shift from negging Biden to pushing and pressuring and summoning him.

These beautiful protests, when they’re at their best, have drastically moved public opinion in their favor. We need public opinion to keep moving that way.


This campaign for the rescue of the American republic needs to fight on two distinct fronts. We need a passionate consolidation and enlivening on the left. And there have been a lot of missteps here — but there is still time to repair it.

And then in terms of outreach to the other side, the approach shouldn’t be the courting of never-Trumpers at the cost of your own party’s soul — but rather a careful study of the right’s ways.

What I saw over four nights of the RNC was a party that is still the most gifted in American politics at reframing increasingly bizarre, dangerous, destructive, nihilistic policies and prescriptions in the gauzy, stirring language of faith, family, heroism, bravery, and liberty.

In modern times, the Republican Party has forced itself into the extraordinary challenge of selling policies that would serve ever fewer people to a majority. So they have learned how to speak to people. This is the moment for the left to really step up on speaking to people.

Speaking to people in a commanding language that is not wonky, that is not hyper-woke, that is not college-sounding, that is not exclusionary and hard to ramp onto, that strums the courts of widely shared values, not ideological stands. Joe Biden is already better at this than many others, but there is much runway still.

It is existential work right now to find the language that will stoke the fire of those who believe most ardently in the cause, and will call in those who believe least in it but patriotically fear the loss of the republic — this language is hungering to be found.

This is how it gets right before the end — or before a new beginning.”


‘The marketplace never tires.’

‘Left alone, capitalism devolves into corruption, bribery & predatory pricing monopolies—capitalism pollutes rivers, damages our health & creates ever greater divides. Capitalism gets us an opioid epidemic, dark patterns of social media & doom scrolling.’

Seth Godin:

The problem: how can we get people what they want and need?

It turns out that the simple short-term answer is the market.

The marketplace makes it possible to buy a nail clipper made of hardened steel for just four dollars, but only when you’re ready. The marketplace offers some people a solid brass set of the cups and balls magic trick and other people a hand-blown glass vase.

The marketplace is hyper-alert and never tires of finding overlooked corners of desire.

But the marketplace is not wise.

It’s blind, short-term and fairly stupid. Because it has no overarching goal. The market is nothing but billions of selfish people, trading this for that, without regard for what’s next.

Left alone, capitalism will devolve into corruption, bribery and predatory pricing leading to monopoly. Left alone, capitalism will pollute rivers, damage our health and create ever greater divides.

Capitalism gets us an opioid epidemic, the dark patterns of social media and doom scrolling.

Because the market isn’t wise. It has no sense of time or proportion.

The only way for the simple answer to solve our complicated problems is for it to have guardrails, boundaries that enable it to function for the long haul.

That’s something we need leadership to get done. And it’s more likely to get done if we acknowledge that we need to do it.

With the current administration depleting and weakening the U.S. postal service in front a national election complicated by a deadly global pandemic, comedian Bill Maher makes a serious suggestion. Get what we need and want now via Amazon, etc., and then stop. Ease the process for postal workers to receive absentee ballots so they can meet deadlines and tallies by election day.

Bill Maher:

“Democracy isn’t a spectator sport, and if DT is going to try to scuttle the Post Office, we need to fight back. It is in our power to give less mail to process. Let this be our October surprise.”

@USPS #FreeUpTheMail



Quakers, Race, and Police Brutality

Friends Committee on National Legislation

Friends across the country are speaking out against racism and police violence. Here, we excerpt some of the minutes and statements that they have shared with us.

A minute from a Quaker meeting or church represents the wording of a decision or agreed-upon action to be taken by the community. Minutes are also powerful advocacy tools to let members of Congress know how their constituents are thinking about and acting on an issue.

As FCNL works for a society free of racism, we affirm the statements collected here from across the breadth of the Religious Society of Friends:

For This Time

Western Yearly Meeting, June 2, 2020

“For God ‘hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth’ (Acts 17:26). Friends believe that any racial discrimination is essentially a violation of God’s law of love, whether by legal enactment or by inequitable practices that interfere with democratic liberties or cultural or economic development.”

A Time for Repentance and Transformation

New England Yearly Meeting, June 5, 2020

“As Friends serving in leadership on behalf of Quaker communities across New England, we join with people around the world to grieve, and to commit to action in opposition to the evils of racism and white supremacy that are again laid bare in our country … We speak to reclaim the symbols of faith from their use to justify the sins of empire. We speak to publicly recommit ourselves to Truth. Black Lives Matter.”

Minute on Responding to the Police Violence Against People of Color

Friends Meeting of Austin, June 7, 2020

“Friends Meeting of Austin … stands with those protesting the continuing police violence against people of color here in Austin and around our country and we affirm that Black Lives Matter … As Quakers, people of faith with a deep commitment to equality, justice, and peace, we commit to continuing our anti-racist work grounded in Spirit through study, prayer, and action, both locally and nationally.”

Statement on Racial Injustice

Evangelical Friends Church International-North America, June 8, 2020

“The global pandemic and widespread economic stress … serve to add weight and a growing awareness to the attitudes and systems of racial injustice and violence that persist in our country. We recognize this as blatant opposition to God’s design and vision for the world … We also recognize our need to redeem individual attitudes, processes, systems, and institutions that perpetuate injustice on the basis of race or ethnic identity.”

Minutes for Black Lives

Sierra-Cascades Yearly Meeting of Friends, June 13, 2020

“Sierra-Cascades Yearly Meeting of Friends witnesses the current people’s uprising for police accountability and for racial justice, and we take a stand for Black lives. We urge all Quakers, in our yearly meeting and beyond, to do the same in word and action. Neutrality is not an option if we are to fully embrace our underlying Truth as Friends: to recognize God in all people.”

A Message Regarding State Sanctioned Violence

Fellowship of Friends of African Descent, June 17, 2020

“Given the continued murder of Black men and women at the hands of police and vigilantes, we feel the Spirit’s urging to return to our minute … that make[s] recommendations for policing … We believe that Friends have much to contribute to the present public discourse on policing and reimagining a system of peacekeeping based on our testimonies of equality and community.”

By Alicia McBride, Friends Committee on National Legislation

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