Carolyn Bourdeaux Is Running for Congress in One of the South’s Most Diverse Suburbs

Carolyn Bourdeaux is an associate professor of Public Management and Policy at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University in Atlanta.  She has just embarked on an ambitious campaign to unseat four-term Republican incumbent Rob Woodall, in a district that has been held by the GOP since the wave election of 1994.  If Carolyn wins, her predecessors in office would include former Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens and GOP-er-turned-Libertarian Party presidential nominee Bob Barr. If that sounds like tough territory, it's not necessarily.  Republican incumbents have run unopposed or faced only nominal opposition in the past in this district.  Black, Asian, … [Read more...]

Not One of Us: How a North Carolina Election in 1972 Presaged Today’s Politics

Remember the old saw about how history repeats itself, "first as tragedy, then as farce"? The 2012 political spoof The Campaign may be a farce, but it recalls a tragic election that changed the course of politics in America. In the film, Zach Galifianakis plays Marty Huggins, an eccentric upstart who challenges long-term Rep. Cam Brady, who expected to run unopposed. The film, directed by Jay Roach, mastermind of the execrable Meet the Parents series, does not offer sharp political satire, but it’s at least infected with a touch of Tea Party-era lunacy. Zach is not the first Galifianakis to run for office.  Forty-five years ago, his uncle Nick battled conservative commentator Jesse Helms … [Read more...]

Is Marine Le Pen a Jacobin? Globalization, Revolution, and the French Election

The 2017 French presidential election is a referendum on globalization. Immigration and international trade have emerged as central themes, eclipsing the issues and parties that dominated French politics for decades. Previous elections typically pitted an incumbent against a familiar face from the opposition, a candidate from the Socialist Party against a candidate from the post-Gaullist right. This model of alternating between two main political families, however, has long been quietly dying and is now thoroughly dead. In 2002, the Socialist candidate Lionel Jospin failed to make it past the first round of voting (which narrows the field to two presidential candidates), leaving the … [Read more...]

These Are America’s Brezhnev Years

In 1991, plenty of Americans made the somewhat arrogant assumption that the United States had “won” the Cold War. A quarter-century later, with institutions like the EU fragmenting and a Russia-backed president of the United States refusing to guarantee its support to NATO allies, those exultant cries of victory look pretty naïve. Obviously, something was going on in the past two decades that a lot of people missed. During the Dubya presidency I started formulating a theory, which I now find to be vindicated, that America was living in its Brezhnev years. In case you do not know, Brezhnev came for power in the Soviet Union along with Alexei Kosygin in 1964, forcing out Nikita Khrushchev. … [Read more...]

Originalism: The Original Trigger Warning

Neil Gorsuch will soon be an associate justice of the Supreme Court. Barring any eleventh-hour scandal (unlikely, if one is to judge by his haircut), the Senate will confirm him. It will be confirming a young man, in judge years, a reliable conservative in politics and an originalist in legal philosophy. The first two traits are unobjectionable in a judicial nominee—we expect presidents to nominate people with views consummate with their own ideology (or, in Trump’s case, the ideology he promised Christian conservatives he would have at the time of the nomination). There is some opprobrium hanging over the fact that it is a “stolen seat,” but that shame attaches to the Senate, not to Trump … [Read more...]

Sipping on the Indian Haterade: Hindu American Whiteness and Support for Trump

Unlike other communities of color in the United States, it has not been so easy for South Asian Americans to organize and act as one.  The very complexity of South Asia and the myriad of internal politics make mobilization a difficult issue.   Even during my time in Atlanta conducting ethnographic research on the South Asian American sporting community, organizations like South Asians for Unity struggled to collectively engage the heterogeneous ethnic, class, and religious South Asian American community in Atlanta.  Sikh American elders and I (a Christian Tamil) shared a sentiment of feeling minimally included in the discussions about peace on the subcontinent. Thus, even the coming … [Read more...]

Trump, Brexit, and the Abject Poverty of Liberalism

Two seemingly monumental and world-historic events occurred in two of the most powerful imperialist countries this past year. On 23 June, the United Kingdom held a referendum on its membership in the European Union, resulting in a “leave” vote. On the other side of the Atlantic, Donald Trump, the Republican candidate for President of the United States, was victorious in his electoral campaign against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. The Leave Campaign won the “Brexit” referendum with 17.4 million ballots, or 51.9 percent of the votes, whereas Donald Trump won the US presidency with 62.9 million votes, amounting to 46.1 percent of the ballots cast (note that Clinton won the popular vote with … [Read more...]

TV, Blogs, Memes, & Even a Little Hope: The Best of the Rest in 2016

Finally, we wind down our retrospective of the "anus horribilis" with the rest of the responses to our annual survey of contributors: the stuff that moved us, surprised us, made us laugh and (most definitely) made us cry this year. We may have had fascism in 2016, but we also had beans, greens, potatoes, tomatoes... you name it! Best TV Show ASC: Easily Atlanta--wunderkind creator Donald Glover's take on life in the A combined verité realism with the occasional touch of the brilliantly absurd to capture the wonderful weirdness of the city it chronicles.  Like the thinking man's Twin Peaks.  Two other shows also brought a lot of light into 2016, recently available to American audiences via … [Read more...]

Bacon’s Rebellion, Donald Trump, and American Populism

Bacon’s Rebellion of 1676 took place long before Donald Trump’s ascension to the White House, but if we allow for a wide-angle view of history we might trace out some general similarities between these two events. In fact, I am inclined to argue that the American populist tradition has its roots in Bacon’s Rebellion. Following such an argument, Donald Trump can be explained as the latest incarnation of Nathanael Bacon, though contextualized to the early twenty-first century. The key word here is: populism. Populism, Defined or Not First of all, what is populism? The easy answer is: who knows, you decide. “Scholars debate whether it [populism] is a creed, a style, a political strategy, a … [Read more...]

Stiff Upper Lip, Friends

At ToM, we have always loved Max Weber's essay "Politics as a Vocation" -- especially, and always, in times of political despair. The wise old sociologist was speaking amid revolutionary tumult in Germany in 1919, in the wake of the First World War. (And yes, he was speaking, despite the fact that the lecture is extraordinarily long and dense.) Somehow, Weber knew that dark times were ahead -- perhaps even intuiting the rise of Nazism, as you can see in the quotation below.  But he urged his countrymen and comrades to steel themselves for the hard vicissitudes of politics, whatever may come their way. Eric Foner reminded us of this in the darkest days of George W. Bush and the Iraq War, … [Read more...]