Did Anyone Else Notice . . . that the wanderings of the word “progressive” today are at once ironic, and kind of hopeful?

Dec. 17, 2020

In 2020, the folks on the left flank of the Democratic Party are called “progressives.” For the progressives of 2020, racial justice is an urgent priority. In the years around 1900, the Progressive Movement rearranged many aspects of American governance and life. New laws regulated many aspects of the economy,...

Did Anyone Else Notice . . . that we would be better off if we had more conspiracy theories?

Oct. 22, 2020

What? We are living in a nation that is chronically unsettled and agitated by the proliferation of the darned things, and I think we should have more of them? Well, yes. But first we have to restore meaning and power to that key word: theory. A real theory is a...

Did Anyone Else Notice . . . that living people recently acquired a license to compete with ghosts?

Oct. 22, 2020

This unexpected development was revealed in the New York Times on September 22, 2020, in a quotation from Jim Manley, who worked as an aide to Senator Harry Reid. Describing the context for the process of appointing Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s successor, Manley declared: “The ghost of Merrick...

Did Anyone Else Notice . . . that the nation’s pollsters may have recovered too fast from their bout with humility?

Oct. 22, 2020

In 2016, just a few days after the November election, I had the wild experience of attending the convention of the International Association of Political Consultants. Nearly every speaker confessed to being freaked out by the election results. (None of them used the term “freaked out,” but every one of...

Did Anyone Else Notice . . .that the failure to recruit hundreds of young historians is a major reason why contact tracing has floundered as a means to limit the spread of Covid-19?

Oct. 20, 2020

Contact tracing—that is, the practice of talking with people who have been diagnosed with the Covid-19 and asking them to identify people who have been in their company—initially seemed very promising. If you could discover a chain of encounters, teams of workers could keep track of exposures and encourage those...

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