A weekly discussion about politics, hosted by The New Yorker's executive editor, Dorothy Wickenden.
Joe Biden Plays Hardball on Social Spending
Joe Biden promised to be the country’s Unifier in Chief, emphasizing his history as a consensus builder. But the first major bill of his Administration, the $1.9-trillion American Rescue Plan, passed with no Republican votes in the House or the Senate. Republicans remain wary of his recently announced $2.3-trillion infrastructure plan. These two bills propose to fundamentally reorder the American economy without substantive participation from Republicans. John Cassidy, a New Yorker staff writer, joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss Biden’s latest economic plan and the real Trojan horse of the Administration.
Jane Mayer on How to Kill a Bill
The investigative reporter Jane Mayer recently received a recording of a meeting attended by conservative power brokers including Grover Norquist, representatives of PACs funded by Charles Koch, and an aide to Senator Mitch McConnell. The subject was the voting-rights bill H.R. 1, and the mood was anxious. The bill (which we discussed in last week’s episode) would broadly make voting more accessible, which tends to benefit Democratic candidates, and it would raise the curtain on “dark money” in elections with stringent disclosure requirements. The problem for this group, a political strategist says, is that the bill is popular among voters of both parties, but H.R. 1, they insist, must die. As we hear the participants tick through options to tarnish the bill’s public appeal, Mayer notes how the political winds have shifted in Washington, leaving the Republican coalition newly fragile.
In Minneapolis and Georgia, the Fight for Racial Justice Continues
This week, testimony began in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer accused of killing George Floyd, in May of 2020. Floyd’s death set off a wave of protests across the country and something like a new reckoning with systemic racism in America. But, while the Chauvin trial gets under way, sweeping new voting policies have been signed into law in Georgia, which critics say are designed to make it hard for people of color to cast their votes. Jelani Cobb joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the response to the killing of George Floyd, and how to think about the current wave of voter-suppression efforts across the country.
Will the Most Important Voting-Rights Bill Since 1965 Die in the Senate?
No sooner had Joe Biden won the Presidential election than Republican state legislatures began introducing measures to make voting more difficult in any number of ways, most of which will suppress Democratic turnout at the polls. Stacey Abrams, of Georgia, has called the measures “Jim Crow in a suit and tie.” Congress has introduced the For the People Act, known as H.R. 1. Jelani Cobb looks at how the bill goes beyond even the 1965 Voting Rights Act in its breadth, and how it will likely fare in the Senate. And Jeannie Suk Gersen speaks with David Remnick about the Supreme Court’s views on voting rights. The Court is currently weighing an Arizona case that will help decide what really counts as discrimination in a voting restriction.
What the Atlanta Shootings Reveal About Racism and Misogyny in the U.S.
On March 16th, a gunman killed eight people—six of them women of Asian descent—in a series of shootings in Atlanta-area spas and massage parlors. Although the shooter has not been charged with committing a hate crime, he told the police that the women were “temptations” that he needed to “eliminate.” Jiayang Fan, a New Yorker staff writer, joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the surge in anti-Asian violence over the past year, and what many of these hate crimes reveal about the commonality between racism and misogyny.
“2034,” a Cautionary Tale of Conflict with China
American naval vessels routinely patrol the South China Sea. It is a shared maritime space, but China claims much of the area as its own. That much is true. What if one of the ships was torpedoed? The retired admiral James Stavridis teamed up with Elliot Ackerman, a journalist and former Marine, to write about how, in the shadow of an increasingly tense relationship between the U.S. and China, such an incident could spiral into catastrophe. The result is “2034: A Novel of the Next World War.” The book is a thriller, and also a cautionary tale; Stavridis cites Nevil Shute’s post-apocalyptic novel “On the Beach” as an inspiration. The writers tell Evan Osnos that they intend to deliver in fiction an ingredient that’s missing in military planning: “We have plenty of intelligence, we have plenty of hardware,” Ackerman notes, but “what we often lack is imagination.”